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A five-step plan for rebooting Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson

The Broncos swapped out a string of first-time head coaches for a Super Bowl champion. They beefed up their offensive line and retooled their roster with dozens of new players. Brought back Vance Joseph as defensive coordinator.

More than all of those changes, however, perhaps the single biggest question mark hovering over Denver this fall is the play of quarterback Russell Wilson.

His first year in the orange and blue was bad. He knows it. Everybody saw it. He’s not that interested in rehashing it.

But for the Broncos to get where they want to go, he has to play much better. So, here’s a five-step plan for rebooting Russ.

None of it’s rocket science. A bad habit to fix here, a change to approach there. All of it geared toward, as coach Sean Payton puts it, keeping Wilson from having to operate from the “high dive” as frequently as he did last year.

He can make life easier for himself. The Broncos should be able to make life easier for him, too. If all of it happens, there’s still no guarantee he bounces back to being an All-Pro, but he’ll have a chance to play much more efficiently.

And that’s a good start for Denver.

Protect, protect, protect

Wilson’s mobility and outside-the-pocket ability has served him well throughout his career, but it’s also meant he’s been prone to getting sacked at a high rate. Even by his standards, however, he got sacked way too often in 2022. His 55 sacks worked out to a 10.2% sack percentage, according to Pro Football Reference data. That’s the second-highest of his career (10.7% in 2018). The Broncos overall had a 9.9% sack rate, the highest mark for the franchise since Dan Reeves’ final year as head coach in 1992.

Conversely, longtime New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees only had a sack rate above 4.7% one time in his 15 years with Payton as his head coach. Career rate in 228 starts for New Orleans: 3.8%. Wilson’s not going to replicate that, but even getting below his career average of 8.5% would be a win for him and the Broncos.

That takes multiple factors clicking. Included, of course, is better play – which also likely requires better health — from Denver’s offensive line.

Said center Lloyd Cushenberry of Wilson, “He’s going to be as good as we let him be up front.”

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