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How Russell Wilson Changed the Broncos’ Culture and Raised Expectations

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Here is a list of players who have played quarterback for the Denver Broncos since Peyton Manning retired six years ago:

  • Trevor Simian
  • Brock Osweiler
  • Paxton Lynch
  • Case Keenum
  • Teddy Bridgewater
  • Joe Flacco
  • Brandon Allen
  • Brett Ripin
  • Drew Lock
  • Kendall Hinton (who is a wide receiver!)
  • Jeff Driskel
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Denver is a city of defenders, which makes the above list all the more tragic. Mile High City was corrupted by John Elway and then corrupted again when Elway hired Peyton Manning to end his career in blue and orange. But ever since Manning and his noodle hand retired, the team has been throwing quarterbacks at the wall and seeing who stays. Nobody got stuck, but it stank a lot. In addition, the Broncos lost five consecutive seasons for the first time in half a century. To stop the bleeding, Denver stopped fixing the position of the quarterback with band-aids and underwent surgery.

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In March of this year, Denver gave the Seahawks two first-round picks, two cornermen, three players and change to Super Bowl-winning quarterback Russell Wilson. The Broncos are hoping Wilson can get them through the AFC West—arguably the toughest division in NFL history—and lead them to a Super Bowl victory. The Broncos are counting on Wilson to be the third quarterback saver in franchise history, so it seems fitting that Wilson didn’t wear it. 3 in my entire career.

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Wilson is obviously a million times better than the post-Peyton Broncos QB who preceded him. But while spending time at the Broncos training camp, Russ differs from his predecessors not only in hand talent. He brings it factor.

it The Factor is a cliché, but next to Wilson you can neither get tired nor avoid the cliché. If mitochondria are the powerhouse of the cell, then Wilson’s mitochondria are fueled by cliches. Talk to Wilson and in a few seconds he will start using phrases like “Always believe”, “Why not you?” and “Let’s be the best of us.” He is a reasonable motivational Instagram account. But he has a resume that confirms these clichés. So, with Wilson, Denver is not only getting a major upgrade as a quarterback, but also a massive improvement in team culture. If the attitude reflects leadership, then the Broncos’ attitude will reflect Russ and all the details that Russ is obsessed with.

“I’m just trying to raise their expectations and raise ours,” Wilson said in a post-workout interview on Wednesday. “Our expectations must be higher than anyone else’s. People will doubt us all season long, people will praise us all season long, people will say this and that. But our process of who we are and who we’re trying to be, and how we’re going to learn and be the best version of ourselves, that’s all that matters.”

Every Wilson quote could be a line to read Jason Sudeikis in Ted Lasso. But that’s because Wilson is always focused, teammates say.

“We will only be here to get through,” said Broncos 22-year-old Javonte Williams. “And someone from behind will laugh. Russ will say, “Shut up, shut up, it’s really important!” And we’re like, “Damn, Russ, we’re just passing through.”

In a meta moment, Williams laughs and then closes off.

“But I understand where he came from,” Williams said. “This year he has a lot of work on his shoulders. He doesn’t miss anything.”

One of the benefits of growing up is knowing what you want and how you want it. The old quarterbacks do the same. Wilson knows exactly how he wants his teammates to do their job and very much intentionally and specifically about it. He can tell a receiver on one route that he wants him to take exactly four steps, because the fifth step might mess up his timing. In a certain situation, he will want them to change direction, placing the outside foot instead of the inside. And when he says cut at the white 30 at the 30 yard line, he wants them to cut at the 30 yard line. lower out of “30” because directly attacking “30” would not create a proper shot window.

“I always joke and say he’s playing the game in his head,” wide receiver Cortland Sutton said. “He sees the stands, the fans, he sees the defense movement, although there is no one there. In his mind, he knows exactly where he wants us to be because he sees it. I think that’s what makes it great.”

Wilson really sees what is not there. He is a preacher of visualizing success before it happens. Before Sunday Night Football In last year’s game, Wilson took the field and completed a two-minute drill during the warm-up before the game, despite the fact that:

A. He was ruled out while recovering from middle finger surgery, and…

B. He was alone with no teammates or defenders on the field.

He not only trained by himself, but also talked to himself. Wilson called for games, barked out loud, and inspired the real world of teammates in his head.

Just days after joining the Broncos in March, Wilson spent a week of practice with quarterbacks and wide receivers in San Diego to set Denver’s offense (the fact that Wilson essentially set the offense himself shows how new attacking Denver would be beneficial). show favorite parts of Wilson’s system that he ran in Seattle). The players on the trip joked that it was a miniature training camp because Wilson planned every minute and there was no dead time. Buses come to this is time, practice what time, weightlifting hereconference rooms there. Even dinner was planned to the smallest detail. Wilson chose a restaurant (obviously), but no waiter came to take his order. Instead, they were served a special menu that Wilson had already prepared. Reserve quarterback Josh Johnson, one of the most traveled quarterbacks in the NFL, said Wilson’s consistency and premeditation is his superpower.

“Details are everything,” says Johnson. “That’s what separates good teams from bad ones — teams that make details second nature. So when you get to December, January and February, you’re rolling.”

Lately, Broncos left tackle Garett Bolles’ days have been frequently interrupted by FaceTime from Russ. Every time Wilson has a question, he turns to Bolles via FaceTime. It could be tic-tac-toe, like how he wants Bolles to defend his blind side in a certain game. But it could also be because he wants Bolles to take the lead and instill maturity in the offensive line, or even just to discuss their life as fathers. And since Wilson questions Bolles all the time, Bolles said he feels entitled to question Russ when he has a question too.

“I blocked a lot of quarterbacks,” said Balls, who joined the team in 2017 and is Denver’s longest-serving forward. “The presence of a guy like that changes everyone’s behavior.”

Asked if he’s ever been around someone like Wilson, Bolles shakes his head and starts listing names.

“Michael Jordan, Kobe, Steph Curry, LeBron James, Serena Williams, Simone Biles,” Bolles says. “[Wilson’s] the mindset is the same as that of all these people.”

On Tuesday, several thousand fans gathered at the Broncos’ training camp to sit on a hillside (without shade) and watch the team practice. It was 92 degrees. After a two-hour practice, at least 300 fans were stuck around the yellow rope separating them from the field, waiting for Wilson to pass. The rope stretched 100 yards from one end zone to the other, and the fans were packed so tightly it looked like a giant Red Rover game. Wilson, methodically as always, started all the way to the left of the VIP area in the corner of the end zone, then signed his way 100 yards to the other side of the field. It took him over half an hour to get through it all. On the opposite side, Wilson’s wife Ciara lingered in the shadows until her husband had finished. He does a 100 yard signing session every day. Wilson ended Denver’s long line of quarterbacks and replaced it with a much longer line of fans.

After practice on Wednesday, after the marathon signing session, and after he played with his three kids on the field, Wilson wandered into the corner of the end zone for an interview in the Denver sun. During a conversation with a journalist, he noticed that something was wrong. At the opposite corner of the opposite end zone—easily 130 yards—Wilson noticed that the Broncos’ choke points were coming out of the Denver fieldhouse rather than their main building. Schedule violation. Russ was worried.

“Hi, Patrick,” Russ said to Patrick Smith, director of communications. Why are they coming out of there?

“Yoga,” Smith said evenly.

“Ah, I understand,” Wilson said with relief. He returned to the conversation he had. “I’m sorry. I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss anything.”


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