Commentary

Broncos Fans Crush Russell Wilson After Agonizing Loss to Colts

Russell Wilson remained in uniform while addressing the media after the Broncos' 12-9 overtime loss to the Indianapolis Colts.
Russell Wilson remained in uniform while addressing the media after the Broncos' 12-9 overtime loss to the Indianapolis Colts. Denver Broncos via YouTube
The Denver Broncos' blockbuster trade for quarterback Russell Wilson during the off-season, as well as his signing of a contract valued at $245 million (with $165 million guaranteed), was supposed to usher in a new golden era for the franchise. But the season to date has been more of a golden shower — and after the team's utterly humiliating 12-9 overtime home loss to the pathetic Indianapolis Colts on the October 6 edition of Thursday Night Football, fans on Twitter are unleashing their wrath.

Who can blame them? Veteran emcee Al Michaels, who teamed with Kirk Herbstreit on the broadcast, spent more time bemoaning how terrible both teams were than describing the action — though he did seem to take some satisfaction in counting the number of punts (seven for the Colts, five for the Broncos). And cutaways to attendees in the stands at Empower Field caught most of them booing, shaking their heads or simply looking shell-shocked by how offensive each team's offenses were.

Sitting through this catastrophe was about as exciting as watching Jell-O set, with occasional interruptions to be kicked in the stomach.

Shockingly, running back Melvin Gordon, who was pressed into action after starter Javonte Williams tore his ACL in last Sunday's defeat to the Las Vegas Raiders, didn't fumble...officially; the one time he spilled the pill, his knee was down. But the Broncos' running game was inefficient at best for much of the contest, and Wilson's throwing was erratic, as he regularly missed open receivers. Meanwhile, the play-calling was unimaginative and self-defeating, since it focused on straight drop-backs that frequently put Wilson directly in the path of the Colts' pass rush rather than rolling him out and allowing him to improvise — the method at which he most excels.

Is Hackett, who previously worked with the Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers, a very different kind of quarterback, to blame for not adapting his approach to fit Wilson? Or is Wilson the driving force behind the stylistic disconnect because he thinks diminishing the "run" portion of the run-pass option will lengthen his career? There's no telling at this point, but one thing's clear: The current tactics are utter failures.

Despite their missteps, the Broncos still should have won the game, but Wilson threw it away, tossing two unconscionable second-half interceptions that gave the seemingly comatose Colts life — and veteran QB Matt Ryan had enough juice left to lead his squad down the field for a tying field goal before the end of regulation, and another successful kick in OT. And while Wilson directed the Broncos inside the five-yard line in the waning moments, he once again proved incapable of producing a touchdown in the red zone. The incomplete, fourth-and-one pass that ended this debacle found Wilson once again trying to play the hero but winding up as a zero.

Even before this pathetic conclusion, people were making jokes on social media to distract themselves from the awfulness they were witnessing: Former Broncos coach Wade Phillips tweeted, "I think both teams should consider punting on 1st down," and Colorado Public Radio's Vic Vela sent out a photo of President Joe Biden at his desk supposedly signing "an executive order banning the Broncos from ever appearing on national TV again." But Broncos Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe didn't find anything funny about the results. "It's looking more and more likely the Broncos purchased [insert lemon emoji]," he tweeted. "Russ has been AWFUL so far this season. We're not riding anywhere with him like this."

This last line resonated when Wilson ended his post-game press appearance with his catchphrase "Let's ride" — an incredibly tone-deaf decision that set off the haters again. "Seeing tons of mean chatter about Russell Wilson on social," journalist Josina Anderson tweeted. "It’s fair to critique his performance and debate what’s going on in Denver. But why so many people reveling in his current struggles? Money? Beautiful wife?"

For answers to these questions, see our picks for the most memorable tweets about no longer trusting Russ.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts

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