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Russell Wilson era in Denver hits rock bottom (and it’s not because of Wilson)

No version of Wilson can overcome giving up 70 points like the Broncos defense did.

Denver Broncos v Miami Dolphins Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images

Lest you think this is a “bash Russell Wilson’s struggles in Denver” article, it’s not. Russell Wilson played well, and has generally played well (at least in the 1st half) in his three games under Sean Payton. But on a day when many of Wilson’s former Seahawks teammates were in Seattle to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the legendary Super Bowl winning team, built off one of the greatest defenses of all-time, Russ played with a Denver Broncos defense that may be one of the worst of all-time.

The Miami Dolphins dropped 70 points, SEVENTY points, and it easily could’ve been more. Tua Tagovailoa threw for 309 yards and 4 touchdowns, rookie running back Devon Achane and veteran Raheem Mostert had 4 touchdowns each, and the Dolphins offense finished with 726 yards of total offense. Mike White came in for Tua in the 4th quarter and even he led two touchdown drives, including a 68-yard bomb to Robbie Chosen (formerly Robbie Anderson) on supposedly top-5 cornerback Patrick Surtain II.

And you know what? Despite Denver’s offense stalling out after halftime again, it ain’t on Wilson. He threw for over 300 yards, had a touchdown pass, lost two touchdown passes to penalties on the same player (Brandon Johnson), and only took one sack. Wilson did get picked on a tipped ball at the line but it was already 49-13. Courtland Sutton caught Denver’s only offensive touchdown but he also lost two fumbles, which led to two Miami touchdowns. For some stupid reason, Wilson stayed in the game basically until the end, which is puzzling.

I mean, just look at this! Miami’s offense is elite but this is not serious NFL defense.

Miami broke all sorts of records except the points record, having shown mercy and not kicked a field goal at 70-20.

Sean Payton famously trashed Nathaniel Hackett in public for his shambolic coaching performance that saw him fired mid-season. None of Hackett’s games looked as awful as that one in terms of historic ineptitude on one side of the ball. Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph is probably as good as fired and the season isn’t a month old. Denver has allowed 122 points this month, which is preposterously bad.

Not only is Denver 0-3, but they’re 0-3 without playing great offenses like the Kansas City Chiefs or Buffalo Bills, or even really good defensive sides like the New York Jets and Cleveland Browns who can test the limits of that offense. There is almost no way they’re going to the playoffs this season, and it’s because Sean Payton has rolled back the years by trotting out defenses befitting of the ones that resulted in several 7-9 seasons with prime Drew Brees.

And if nothing else, it is now highly likely that the Seattle Seahawks’ 2024 third-round pick received from Denver will be via the New Orleans Saints. Whichever of the Broncos or Saints finishes with the superior record will determine which pick goes to Seattle, and with the Saints at 2-1 I have a feeling we know which pick it’ll be.

Even though Wilson has been statistically impressive and the Broncos offense is still top-5 in points per possession, it doesn’t matter if the defense is giving up scores almost literally all the time. If Wilson drops off and the defense doesn’t improve? Whoo boy.

The Sean Payton era is off to an even more disastrous start than the Hackett season; at least that team started 2-1 before faltering. Barring the turnaround of all turnarounds, I think by the end of the year we can just about close the chapter on who won the trade.