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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Never mind the chatter and drama surrounding Russell Wilson’s return to Seattle for the game Monday night.
There is no way Russell Wilson should lose to Geno Smith.
Wilson was the Seahawks’ starting quarterback from the time he was a third-round rookie in 2012 until he was traded in March to Denver in exchange for two first-round draft picks, two second-round picks, starting defensive lineman Shelby Harris, starting tight end Noah Fant and backup quarterback Drew Lock.
Smith was Wilson’s backup quarterback the previous three years. A highly touted quarterback at West Virginia a decade ago, Smith beat out former Bronco first-round pick Paxton Lynch for the backup job in 2019 (but never took a snap) and beat out Lock for the starting job this summer.
Besides the quarterback advantage the Broncos will have in this game, they can fly home early Tuesday morning victorious if they follow these 5 keys:
Multiple reports out of Seattle this week went to great lengths to explain why the Seahawks had little choice but to trade away Wilson after 10 years. Some of the anonymous accusations against Wilson were hard to believe and the quarterback was no doubt hurt when his former coach Pete Carroll all but encouraged his fan base to boo its former star.
If the Seahawk fans do reign boos upon Wilson as he runs out on the field and gets ready to take his first snap, it should motivate his new teammates to rally around their leader.
There is concern after the defending-champion Rams performed poorly in their opener Thursday against the Bills that the Broncos also won’t be ready for the physicality of a regular-season game. The Broncos under new head coach Nathaniel Hackett, like Rams’ coach Sean McVay, didn’t play his first string in the preseason and training camp featured a light jog-through every third day.
But Hackett had his team in full pads for practice Friday which meant things got physical.
“At practice, we always want to preach that physicality,’’ Hackett said prior to his padded practice Friday. “I don’t think you can ever simulate anything until you get into a game. And again, it goes back to that risk-reward. You look at just across the league—sometimes you don’t have a great opener, sometimes you do.
“In the end, those guys have played a lot of football, and we’ve had a lot of guys that have played football. They know they’re going to be able to be physical right away. We have to be great at that. We have to challenge them for that. There’s going to be some ups and downs, but that’s part of it.”
Stopping the run without inside linebacker Josey Jewell — who may not play because of a late-week calf injury — won’t be easy but it’s imperative the Denver D put Smith in third-and-long situations.
Know this: The Rams went up against Josh Allen. The Broncos are not.
Tyler Lockett is a good receiver. Noah Fant is a good tight end. Running back Rashaad Penny is good. But Metcalf is special. Metcalf is capable of making one or two big plays a game that can lift Geno Smith from longtime backup to legit starter.
After an impressive rookie season, second-round running back Javonte Williams should be ready to run up a level in season 2. He averaged 12 carries and 2.5 catches a game last season. As the starter ahead of veteran Melvin Gordon III this year, Williams should be ready for 16 carries and 3.5 catches a game this season. If Williams can approach 85-90 yards rushing, Wilson’s play-action passing should be near impossible to defend.
It’s never been easy for Broncos’ special teams to win on the road in part Brandon McManus can’t automatically boot his kickoffs into the end zone. Disciplined coverage will be a must. New punter Corliss Waitman can punt them long and high, but he must avoid punting them long down the middle.
Meanwhile, the Broncos have a great chance to introduce rookie returner Montrell Washington to a primetime viewing audience.
Denver Broncos headlines, game previews and interviews with our 9NEWS insider Mike Klis.
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