Analysis: Russell Wilson’s trade looks like Herschel Walker’s
DENVER (AP) — The most lopsided trade in NFL history sent Herschel Walker to Minnesota for two handfuls of players and draft picks that served as mainstays of the Dallas Cowboys dynasty of the 1990s.
The Russell Wilson trade isn’t quite as cocky, but eight months seems as one-sided as any deal since the Walker collapse that Jerry Jones immediately dubbed “The Great Train Robbery.”
What Denver is 33 years later could very well become “The Big Bamboozle.”
Walker wasn’t exactly a bust in Minneapolis, scoring 25 touchdowns in 2 1/2 seasons with the Vikings. But he was long gone by the time the trade blossomed for the Cowboys after Jones and Jimmy Johnson drafted Emmitt Smith, Alexander Wright, Russell Maryland, Alvin Harper, Dixon Edwards, Robert Jones, Kevin Smith and Darren Woodson in road to three Super Bowls. parades.
Wilson has nothing to do with the Broncos expected when general manager George Paton sent first- and second-round picks this year and next with three players for the nine-time Pro Bowl quarterback who was supposed to be still at its peak at 33.
The $245 million extension he gave Wilson before the season only adds to the angst of Broncos fans who have seen a string of quarterbacks fail since Peyton Manning left to do game shows. and commercials with his brothers after winning Super Bowl 50.
The Seahawks selected tackle Charles Cross in the first round and rusher Boye Mafe in the second with the premium picks they got from Denver. As it stands, they’ll have the No. 6 overall selection in the 2023 draft thanks to Wilson’s debacle on his Denver debut.
Not only that, but Geno Smith, Wilson’s successor in Seattle, is having the kind of season everyone outside of Washington thought Wilson would have in the Rockies this year.
Smith has the surprising Seahawks tied with the 49ers atop the NFC West at 6-4. He completes a league high with 72.8% of his passes and has 17 touchdown throws and four interceptions in his first year as a starter since 2014.
With six losses in nine starts, Wilson is completing a career-worst 59.5% of his passes, is on pace for a career-high 57 sacks and has thrown just seven touchdowns to go along with five interceptions.
The Broncos are 3-7 and sit in the AFC West basement after being swept by the lowly Raiders and coach Josh McDaniels on Sunday.
The Seahawks are averaging 25.7 points per game with Smith at quarterback, just a tick higher than the 25.3 they averaged during Wilson’s tenure in Seattle.
Wilson’s incredibly poor play in Denver prompted a reporter to ask him Sunday after the 22-16 overtime loss to the Raiders if the Broncos just aren’t good enough to win those kinds of games.
Fans are starting to wonder if it’s Wilson who isn’t good enough anymore because the Broncos are down six games by one score and nullify Denver’s dominant defense averaging just 14.7 points.
They would be a better 9-1 in the NFL right now if only they averaged in regulation the 19.7 points per game they did last year with Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Lock at quarterback.
Or the 20.2 they averaged the year before when Lock led the league with 15 interceptions.
Or the 20.6 they averaged with Case Keenum in 2018.
Or the 19.3 they averaged in 2016 with Trevor Siemian, like in 2011 with Tim Tebow.
Wilson did not meddle with rookie head coach Nathaniel Hackett, who has now hired someone to help run the games and appointed another member of his staff to call the plays.
After stubbornly refusing for weeks to give up call-to-play duties, Hackett relented and handed them over to Klint Kubiak, his QBs coach and passing game coordinator.
The change paid immediate dividends when Wilson scored his first opening touchdown for the Broncos, a 92-yard beauty that was followed by nine drives that either went empty or ended in field goals. .
Hackett recently added 7-on-7 drills to practice after dropping most of training camp last summer, depriving Wilson of hundreds, if not thousands, of pitches to develop rapport and rhythm with his receivers.
Now many of them are injured along with several offensive linemen. But that’s not all that plagues Denver’s spray offense.
Wilson made bad calls and bad pitches in critical time that cost the Broncos losses to the Colts, Chargers, Jets, Titans and now, the Raiders.
He continues to miss open receivers with his eyes or arm and only showed flashes of the vintage Russell Wilson the Broncos thought they would get last spring.
The Broncos have had just four touchdowns at home so far, the fewest at home in 63-year franchise history.
They are 0-3 in overtime, including Sunday’s game when Wilson couldn’t even touch the ball in extra time after making a crucial error just after the 2-minute warning in the fourth quarter when the Raiders no longer had a timeout.
He pitched incomplete on third and 10 rather than slipping and taking the bag which would have burned 40 more seconds on the clock. That left Derek Carr with 1:43 to put the Raiders within goal range to tie.
“I think we’re about to learn how to get back to winning ways,” Wilson said. “Sometimes it’s a trip; sometimes it’s ugly, sometimes it’s hard. What probably hurts more than anything else is that these games were close, one-score games. We have to be able to find ways to earn them.
Then Wilson said something interesting.
“It’s never good to lose,” he said, “but it’s almost like, man, at least someone would kick our ass.”
Wilson may well get his wish.
The Broncos have two more games to play against Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs, who have beaten them 13 straight and are scoring 30 points per game, more than double Denver’s average production.
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Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson walks off the field after an NFL football game against the Las Vegas Raiders in Denver on Sunday, Nov. 20, 2022. The Raiders won 22-16 in overtime. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith wears an FC Bayern Munich scarf as he answers questions during a press conference after a training session in Munich, Germany, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are scheduled to face the Seattle Seahawks in an NFL game at the Allianz Arena in Munich on Sunday. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith (7) catches a ball during a practice session in Munich, Germany, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are scheduled to face the Seattle Seahawks in an NFL game at the Allianz Arena in Munich on Sunday. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)