May 25, 2024

Analyst explains Russell Wilson’s struggles with Broncos

The Pittsburgh Steelers made seismic waves in the NFL world with their announcement of the signing of veteran quarterback Russell Wilson to a one-year deal. Wilson’s journey leading up to this moment was rife with twists and turns. Initially traded to the Denver Broncos in the early stages of 2022, Wilson inked a mammoth five-year contract worth $245 million, with lofty expectations of propelling his new team to Super Bowl glory.

However, reality failed to align with those lofty aspirations, as Wilson and the Broncos struggled to find their footing on the field. Despite his elite status, Wilson endured a rapid descent from grace, becoming the subject of internet memes and criticism as the team stumbled to an 11-19 record under his leadership. Now, in a stunning turn of events, Wilson finds himself donning the black and gold of the Steelers, poised for redemption and a shot at regaining glory in the Steel City. 

As analysts and fans alike dissect the offseason moves across the AFC North, CBS Sports analyst Aditi Kinkhabwala weighed in during her appearance on “The Ultimate Cleveland Sports Show.” She shed light on the Steelers’ bold acquisition of Wilson and its potential implications for their division rivals, including the Cleveland Browns.

“He was constantly climbing out of the back of the pocket. He struggled with snap counts. He couldn’t manage or handle the play-calling,” Kinkhabwala said. “They went from putting a wristband on [him] to by the end of the season, all the play calls had to be two words and everybody else was required to know what the play calls were.”

Kinkhabwala underscored the significance of Sean Payton’s decision to part ways with Wilson by highlighting the head coach’s track record of success with various quarterbacks. Wilson’s coaches’ readiness to invest considerable resources to ensure his departure speaks volumes about how negatively he was perceived in Payton’s eyes.

“There is a very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very valid reason that Sean Payton, who is one of the best quarterback coaches and best offensive minds in our game… is saying I’m going to pay this guy millions upon millions of dollars to be nowhere near my locker room.”

The reports of Wilson struggling with calling plays are indeed concerning, if accurate. However, there’s optimism that the offensive scheme in Pittsburgh, under new offensive coordinator Arthur Smith, will better align with Wilson’s strengths. Smith’s playbook mirrors the style Wilson thrived in during his days with the Seattle Seahawks, emphasizing play action — a familiarity that could potentially reignite Wilson’s prowess on the field.

While it may be tempting for Cleveland media to dismiss Wilson’s signing and feel unthreatened by him, it’s important to consider their own quarterback situation. Despite the hefty investment in Deshaun Watson, the returns haven’t been stellar, leaving the Browns facing a similar dilemma to the Steelers. The key difference lies in the contract terms: The Steelers have only committed a little over $1 million to Wilson for the short term, while the Browns are locked into a long-term deal with Watson, highlighting the contrasting risks and potential outcomes for both teams.

Wilson eager to prove he’s still elite

Despite his struggles to secure wins in Denver, Wilson’s statistical performance paints a more nuanced picture of his abilities. With a completion rate of 66.4%, he amassed 3,070 passing yards, 26 touchdowns and eight interceptions in 2023. While these figures may not rank among the league’s elite, they represent a significant improvement over the Steelers’ quarterback situation in 2023.

While the Broncos swiftly moved on from Wilson, the Steelers saw potential in him, despite valid concerns about his ability to adapt to their offensive system. However, it’s worth noting Wilson’s impressive track record, including a Super Bowl victory and nine Pro Bowl appearances. His past successes demonstrate his capability to manage complex playbooks, and at 35 years old, he remains motivated and committed to proving his elite status in the league.

With a chip on his shoulder and a relentless work ethic, Wilson is poised to silence his critics and thrive in the Steel City. The Steelers are optimistic that he can rise to the occasion and excel, elevating their team to new heights and cementing his legacy as a premier quarterback in the NFL.