Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer on what a successful season would look like for Russell Wilson and the Broncos’ 2022 outlook

Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer on what a successful season would look like for Russell Wilson and the Broncos’ 2022 outlook


For you, what would constitute a good season for Russell Wilson?

“[A] Pro Bowl’s kind of arbitrary. … I think getting the Broncos into the playoffs. And I think getting the most out of the young players around him. I think so much of what he wanted was to have an offense that was built around him and that was going to allow him to sort of test some stuff, like, ‘How much more can I do than I’ve already been?’ I think a lot of it’s going to come down to, obviously Tim Patrick’s hurt now, but what does Courtland Sutton look like? What does Jerry Jeudy look like? What does KJ Hamler look like? To me, those things are really important.

“It’s almost like when Peyton [Manning] got here in 2012, and I was here for a lot of that. I can remember how Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker were one thing before that, and then you saw a whole different level in those guys once Peyton got here. I think a lot of it’s going to be based on a) making the playoffs, and b) how much more you’re getting out of the young receivers that you have around you.”

What do you think Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett brings to this organization?

“A lot of juice. Having known him for a while, I just think there’s such a great passion for football there. It’s sort of cliché to say a lot of teams are trying to be the Microsoft of football, or the Apple of football, but I do think there’s going to be an open flow of ideas here. [Offensive Coordinator Justin] Outten to come with him from Green Bay was big, and getting [Defensive Coordinator] ejiro [Evero], because you’ve got a lot of symmetry on the staff, guys that know each other. I think that’s going to help create what [Hackett’s] looking to create here, which is just an open flow of ideas, and I think what should become a pretty innovative place.”

Guys like Pat Surtain II and Justin Simmons had great years last year, Bradley Chubb is healthy again. How good do you think the defense can be this year?

“My question with the defense is really based on losing [former head coach] Vic [Fangio]. [Evero’s] very well thought of across the NFL, but there aren’t three or four defensive coaches in football that are more well-respected for what they do to get the most out of the players they have, and put together a really productive, hard- to-play-against unit. You talk to offensive coaches, it is the most challenging scheme to go against. [Evero] is going to bring some of that because he was with [former Rams defensive coordinator and current Chargers head coach Brandon] Staley and learned from him in LA, but I think there’s that natural question: Were some guys playing a little over their heads because [Fangio] is such a good defensive coach? I think that’s where the question’s going to be. You have talent there, no question. Dog [Evero] get as much out of it as [Fangio] was able to, because [Fangio’s] track record is obviously very strong.”

Are there any guys on the team you’re expecting breakout seasons from?

“It’s sort of a simple answer, but [I’m] falling back on the young receivers, Jeudy and Hamler. I certainly think [Wilson’s] ability to get the ball downfield should help someone like Hamler. And then Javonte Williams. I don’t want to put this on him, but I actually predicted last year that [Colts running back] Jonathan Taylor was going to win the rushing title. It was because you saw a little of what he could be as a rookie, and there was so much more out there for him. I’m not going to sit here and tell you Javonte Williams can win the rushing title, but I think he’s got a shot to become a top-10 running back this year. So he’d be another name to watch. Everybody sees all the freaky stuff that Pat Surtain can do, and I’d hesitate to even call him a breakout guy because I think everybody already knows how good he is.”

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