Broncos’ defense bracing for dual threat posed by Wilson
Russell Wilson, a second-year quarterback one win away from a championship, has flown somewhat under the radar during Super Bowl Week. But if Wilson isn’t demanding all the headlines, he certainly hasn’t gone unnoticed this week by the Denver Broncos.
Seattle Times staff reporter
JERSEY CITY, N.J. – What did Richard Sherman say? Did Marshawn Lynch say anything? Is there anything more Peyton Manning can say?
Amid the frenzied, sometimes-sensational coverage of Super Bowl XLVIII, it might seem like Russell Wilson, the always-collected, never-controversial Seahawks quarterback, has flown somewhat under the radar for a second-year quarterback one win away from a championship.
But if Wilson isn’t demanding all the headlines, he certainly hasn’t gone unnoticed this week by the Denver Broncos.
“He came into a situation where he didn’t have to do too much and he was mature enough to come in and just do what he was supposed to do,” said defensive tackle Terrance Knighton. “With a year under his belt ... he’s taken this team to the next level.
“Each week, he’s getting better and better.”
The athletic Wilson is certainly a different quarterback than the Broncos have faced in the playoffs — traditional pocket-passers in San Diego’s Phillip Rivers and New England’s Tom Brady.
To defend Wilson’s dynamism, defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio said the team will have to “dust off” game plans from the first half of the season. Denver has faced only one quarterback who would be deemed “mobile” since the team’s Week 9 bye — Oakland’s Terrelle Pryor, in what was essentially a no-contest regular-season finale.
Veteran cornerback Champ Bailey, when asked how best to defend Wilson’s dual threat, said: “It’s tough. I don’t know if I prefer him to run it or throw it because he is dangerous both ways.”
Linebacker Shaun Phillips added: “You don’t stop a guy like that. You go out and play your game, and we have to let him do his thing.”
Admiration extends beyond those Broncos specifically assigned to defend Wilson. Offensive coordinator Adam Gase offered some of the highest praise for the Seahawks’ signal caller, noting some traits Wilson shares with his Sunday counterpart, Peyton Manning.
“They both have different styles,” Gase said, “but mentally, it sounds like Russell’s kind of heading in that direction of what Peyton’s done with his career, as far as being a very intelligent quarterback and using the tools of his game to his advantage.”
Perhaps part of the reason Wilson hasn’t been the center of attention this week is his, and the team’s, production on offense over the past two months. In that six-game span, Wilson is averaging 167 yards passing and less than one touchdown.
The Broncos, though, might remember how things were different in the exhibition season. Certain caveats apply in an exhibition, of course, but Wilson went 8 for 12 passing in that 40-10 rout at CenturyLink Field. He had 127 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions and a 141.3 quarterback rating.
“I wouldn’t say their offense fell off at all,” said Denver safety Mike Adams of Seattle’s final fourth of the season. “He’s an excellent quarterback ... and I think he’s done a tremendous job.
“I’ve been watching a lot of film on these guys, and I don’t see where they’ve missed a step at all.”
The next step, though, doesn’t get any bigger.
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @joshuamayers.