ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – Eight games at quarterback Russell Wilsonwith the Denver Broncos, his team has three wins, he threw six touchdown passes and he was the subject of countless social media posts.
In short, he’s the face that’s kicked off thousands of memes, with a digital target on almost every word he says or incompleteness he throws.
“Look, you’re conscious just because of the way the world works,” Wilson said recently. But that’s as close as Wilson has come, at least publicly, to acknowledging the hurricane of words that seems to have followed him since the “Let’s ride” video started it all in August.
“I think more than anything else I tried to stay focused on our team and improve as a group and not worry about outside noise,” Wilson said. “The thing is, we control the outside by the way we play. It’s for everyone. It starts with me and starts with the whole team and our coaches.
The Broncos went goodbye this week with the advantage of a game-winning drive in the final minutes of a win over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday at Wembley Stadium. But the Broncos still have the second-worst offense in the NFL (behind only the Pittsburgh Steelers and rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett), the worst red-zone offense and the second-worst third-down offense.
Wilson, who signed a $245 million contract just before the start of the regular season, is squarely in the midst of a constant barrage of criticism, analysis and, well, mockery.
And when asked about the flight to England last week, his airplane routine became the latest.
“What was it? Eight hours to fly here,” Wilson said. “The first two hours I was watching a movie, I was watching all the cuts and everything. For the next four hours, I was doing treatment on the plane. I was going up and down the aisles. Everyone else was I was doing high knees, working on my legs and everything, and making sure I’m ready to rock.”
Broncos general manager George Paton called the simultaneous whirlwind around his first-year head coach Nathaniel Hackett and Wilson “unprecedented” in some ways given the Broncos played four prime time games. tuned to accompany the stand-alone London match on the first eight weeks of the season.
“He’s an amazing human being from that perspective,” Hackett said when asked how Wilson handled the noise around the team. “Everyone says what they want. They say what they want. It’s part of this game. It comes with the territory. As a head coach, as a quarterback, you’ll always get that, especially if you don’t win, especially if the attack doesn’t look good, like it isn’t.
But given that Wilson has made no secret of his desire to win “multiple Super Bowls” in Denver, all eyes remain on him.
“My goal is to play 10 or 12 more years and hopefully win three or four more Super Bowls. That’s the plan. That’s the mindset. That’s why I came here, so I can hopefully finish my career here and end up on top as a champion and do it multiple times,” he said during his first presentation in Denver.
Hackett said in recent weeks “you love everything about this guy, his leadership, his work ethic, his tenacity, we’re going to understand him and put him in the best positions to succeed and do the things he’s most at home with.” ‘ease.’
Hackett and Wilson publicly supported each other as Paton, even though he traded outside linebacker Bradley Chubb Tuesday said he believes in Hackett, the coaching staff and what the team can do in its nine games after the exemption.
“We’re here for the long haul with Russ,” Paton said in London.
There was also a moment on Sunday, just after Wilson threw his fourth interception of the season on his second pass attempt of the game, when Hackett quickly walked over to his sidelined quarterback and told him to “breathe, breathe”.
“I agree to some extent with Russell that he’s not necessarily pushy, but he’s still trying to make a play,” Hackett said Tuesday when asked about the sideline discussion. “It’s his mentality and it’s the big ones” [mentality] — guys who have played a long time in this league and thrown a lot of yards. They are always on the hunt for those big games. As we work together, I learn more when he tries to find them, what he can do to get them, and I try to create them for him.
Teeth in the schedule remain, however, including two games against a team they haven’t beaten since 2015 – the Kansas City Chiefs – to go along with road games against the Tennessee Titans, Baltimore Ravens and Los Angeles Rams. Wilson’s mantras of “steadfast belief” and “storms don’t last” will be tested in every way.
“It hasn’t materialized yet the way we wanted it to as a collective band,” Wilson said. “Like I said, it starts one day at a time. You can’t build everything in one day.”