Russell Wilson’s struggles with Broncos one of NFL’s big mysteries

The biggest move of the NFL offseason has become the league’s biggest mystery.

It’s a throw dunnite. Where have you gone Russell Wilson?

The Denver Broncos didn’t expect that when they pawned their future for Seattle’s nine-time Pro Bowl quarterback.

It turns out that Wilson is so elusive that not even his own team can find him.

The Broncos came into Monday night’s game against the Chargers averaging just 15 points per game. The good news is they topped that by a point and lost 19-16 in overtime.

It was a huge division win for the Chargers, who have three straight wins and are in a four-way tie for the AFC’s longest winning streak. The only time they led all night was in the last game when Dustin Hopkins’ game-winning kick sailed through the post.

Every time there’s been a Hollywood moment when the Broncos had their backs to the wall and old Wilson might have reappeared, it just didn’t happen. A sack. A short-armed throw. Another missed opportunity.

“It’s very disappointing,” said Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett, speaking generally about the loss. “We need a lot more urgency overall.”

The Chargers have done this before. They’re 3-0 against Wilson, the first two games he played for the Seahawks.

Wilson is always optimistic, that part hasn’t changed, so after the game he sounded like a motivational speaker.

The Chargers' Justin Herbert (10) turns a pass to Austin Ekeler (30) when he is tackled late in the game against the Broncos.

Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) turns a pass to Austin Ekeler (30) when he is tackled late in the game against the Broncos.

(Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)

“It’s a good football team out there but we feel like we’re just as good if not better,” he said. “We have to take the call. Adversity is definitely challenging us these days. But the only way I know through all of this is to keep working hard and keep believing.”

This one started with such a promise for the Broncos. Wilson was 10 for 10 in the first quarter for 116 yards and a 39-yard touchdown against Greg Dulcich. It was the first career touchdown for the former UCLA tight end, who played Flintridge at St. Francis High in La Cañada.

It looked like the Wilson we all know had resurfaced, especially how he set up that touchdown with a 37-yard completion for Jerry Jeudy.

Who knew he’d be making five of 18 passes for 72 yards in more than three quarters after that flawless start?

At his best, Wilson is like the Sundance Kid. He’s better when he’s moving. That happened in the first quarter as he rolled left and right and made plays on the run. Throughout his career, he has made stretching out plays an art form. As longtime quarterback pundit Rick Neuheisel puts it, asking Wilson to stay put is like asking Rembrandt to paint between the lines.

That’s what Hackett seemed to do with Wilson up to that point, keeping him in the bag to go over his progress and make those anticipatory throws. It did not work. He came on Monday with four touchdown passes, the fewest in five games of his career.

Then came the opening quarter and flashbacks to all the successes Wilson had in Seattle as his 113 wins in the first decade of his career set an NFL record.

That quarter turned out to be a hoax as the Chargers’ defense swarmed him, capping his receivers and choking Denver’s offensive production.

“They certainly started putting the pressure on in the second half,” Broncos running back Latavius ​​Murray said. “We need to find a way to maintain drives and figure it out.”

The Broncos led 13-10 after two quarters but couldn’t break away in the second half. Their possession after halftime ended like this: punt, punt, punt, field goal, punt, punt, punt.

Since coming into the league, Wilson has had 34 career wins in the fourth quarter or overtime. That’s the second in that span after Matthew Stafford’s 36. They’re clutch quarterbacks.

So it was a made for TV moment, with 21/2 minutes left on the game, the score and Wilson moving from his 43 to third and sixth. It was his moment to shine.

He took the shotgun snap… and was immediately dismissed by linebacker Drue Tranquill, who blitzed down the middle. It was Tranquill’s second sack of the night – you could say Denver’s offense was appeased – and the Chargers’ fourth.

The Broncos fell to 2-4 and have lost three straight games. More importantly, they still haven’t found the quarterback they thought they knew. Russell Wilson’s struggles with Broncos one of NFL’s big mysteries

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