Teddy Bridgewater led the Broncos to a .500 record in the 14 games he started for them in 2021. Through Week 5, new Denver QB Russell Wilson is 2-3.
When the Walton-Penner ownership group bought the Denver Broncos for $4.65 billion in August, co-owner Carrie Walton Penner proudly said, “We are committed to making sure the Denver Broncos are the best team to play for, to work for, and to cheer for.”
Less than a month after purchasing the team, they went out and traded six picks and three role players for nine-time Pro Bowl quarterback Russell Wilson — a player who’s on the books through 2028. The general consensus, specifically after a 7-10 season, was that the Broncos are BACK.
They must’ve figured that Wilson would be a lock. They’ve had 11 different starting quarterbacks since Peyton Manning retired before the 2016 season, which is tied for the most in the NFL over that span.
Fast forward to Thursday Night Football against the Colts at home and the team has been a major disappointment. But this was its chance to get a much-needed win against the NFL’s worst offense. Instead, Denver lost 12-9 in one of the worst games in quite a while, dropping its record to 2-3 on the season.
And while a loss in the game of football can’t be pinned on one person, Wilson certainly didn’t help much. He finished Thursday’s contest completing 21 of his 39 pass attempts for zero touchdowns and two interceptions. To make matters worse, in the game’s final moments, the veteran QB missed a seemingly wide-open KJ Hamler that would’ve pushed Denver to a victory.
But back to Carrie’s point, it’s been hard to play and/or cheer for this team. To this point, no, the Broncos are NOT back. In fact, if you currently believe them to be a laughingstock, there aren’t many who will stand up and tell you you’re wrong.
Week 5 TNF: So bad that it’s good
- This was the first game ever in which each starting QB had four-plus Pro Bowl selections but neither team scored a touchdown.
- Wilson went 0-for-6 on pass attempts in the end zone, including an interception. He’s now 2-for-18 (11%) on pass attempts to the end zone this season — the worst in the NFL.
- The Broncos have scored a TD on just 21.4% of their red-zone possessions. Not only is that a league-worst mark, but it’s the worst by any team through five games since 2010.
For further reference, the worst red-zone mark in 2021 was 44.7% by the New York Giants. The Denver Broncos, led by then-starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, scored touchdowns on 54.7% of their red-zone possessions. Last offseason, Broncos GM George Paton even said the team was interested in re-signing Bridgewater, who led the team to a 7-7 record in the 14 games he started, before trading for Wilson become the superior option, in their eyes.
Now, of course, Bridgewater isn’t the guy you want to build your franchise around. After all, he’s on his fifth different team as a backup in Miami. But at least Bridgewater played better and came at a much cheaper price than Wilson.
Let’s take a look at how the two compare through their respective first five weeks in Denver.
Teddy Bridgewater (2021) vs. Russell Wilson (2022)
|Yards Per Game||236 yards/game||250.8 yards/game|
|QB Completion %||69.8%||59.4%|
|PFF Grade||79.2 (14th)||59.7 (26th)|
|2022 Contract||1 year, $6.5 million||5 years, $245 million|
Putting Bridgewater vs. Wilson aside, if the latter keeps this up, the Seahawks are the real winners. They dodged a major bullet and can prioritize their future — both on the field and how they spend to bring quality football back to Seattle. Wilson was set to count $37 million against Seattle’s salary cap this season, but his trade saved $11 million in 2022 cap space.
So, the Seahawks took on $26 million in dead money by trading Wilson, the second-most dead money a team has ever incurred. The Eagles ate $33.8 million when they got rid of Carson Wentz.
Additionally, Seattle QB Geno Smith has the highest completion percentage among starters in the NFL (77.3%) and the Seahawks are tied for first in the NFC West at 2-2. He’s on a one-year, $3.5 million deal. If he keeps this up, he should be in for a pretty solid payday.
Don’t forget about those draft picks — the worse the Broncos are, the better those picks will be for Seattle.
Can Denver figure it out?
The Broncos play in arguably the toughest division in the NFL (AFC West) with the Chiefs, Chargers, and Raiders. And even in a league that seems to be experiencing more parity than normal this season, the outlook isn’t very good for a team with the second-worst offense in the league — it has the ninth-toughest remaining schedule by opponent win percentage (.500).
Broncos Country, let’s ride … right back home.
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