The 2022 NFL season was an unmitigated disaster for Russell Wilson and the Denver Broncos. But it’s a new year, and the crew now in charge of the team sees a different version of the former star quarterback.
Offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi said that the Broncos are “really happy” with Wilson’s performance this offseason while noting that the veteran signal-caller is still getting acclimated to the new offense.
“[Wilson is] used to doing things a certain way, and we’re presenting a new way of doing things,” Lombardi told The Denver Post. “It’s a new year, new coaching staff and a new scheme. We have a lot of time to figure out the best plan for all these players.”
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The Broncos, who went 5-12 last season and fired Nathaniel Hackett after 15 games, acquired head coach Sean Payton and a 2024 third-round pick from the New Orleans Saints in February for the No. 29 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft and a 2024 second-rounder.
Payton hired Lombardi, who was fired by the Los Angeles Chargers as offensive coordinator after the team blew a 27-0 lead to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC wild-card round last season. Lombardi previously had two offensive coaching stints under Payton with the Saints (2007-13 and 2016-20).
The Broncos traded tight end Noah Fant, defensive lineman Shelby Harris, quarterback Drew Lock, two first- and second-round draft selections and one fifth-rounder to the Seattle Seahawks in March 2022 for Wilson and a fourth-rounder. Wilson proceeded to have the worst season of his 11-year NFL career.
The Super Bowl champion and nine-time Pro Bowl quarterback had 3,524 passing yards, 16 passing touchdowns, 11 interceptions and an 84.4 passer rating, completing 60.5% of his passes across 15 games. Wilson posted career lows in passing touchdowns, passer rating and completion percentage.
In 2022, Denver’s offense collectively averaged 211.3 passing yards (19th in NFL), 113.8 rushing yards (21st), 325.1 total yards (21st) and 16.9 points (last) per game.
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In an attempt to beef up the offense, the Broncos signed offensive linemen Mike McGlinchey and Ben Powers, running back Samaje Perine and wide receiver Marquez Callaway and selected Oklahoma wide receiver Marvin Mims with the No. 63 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, among other moves.
No matter the additions, Lombardi, who said that Wilson is “really fun to work with,” views getting the 34-year-old quarterback back to playing at a high level as the key for Denver’s offense.
“That’s a challenge,” Lombardi said. “No matter where you’re playing, you have to score enough points to win. It’s never easy.”
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