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Mile High Morning: Why the Broncos' run game could help Russell Wilson have a career year


The Lead

In a little less than a month, when the Broncos take on the Cowboys in the preseason opener, we may get our first in-game look at Russell Wilson in a Broncos uniform and how Denver's new offense operates with him under center.

Until then, how exactly the team plans to balance its ground and aerial attacks is a matter of possibility and potential. The "Let Russ Cook" slogan puts the primary responsibilities on Wilson's shoulders, but as The Athletic’s Nick Kosmider writes, having an effective ground game will likely open Wilson up to play at his best.

"During each of Wilson's three most efficient seasons, as measured by ESPN's Total QBR, the Seahawks produced a top-10 running game in terms of expected points added (EPA)," Kosmider wrote. "That includes 2019, when Seattle was eighth in rushing efficiency and Wilson posted the second-best QBR mark (71.5) of his career. By contrast, during three of the four lowest-ranked QBR seasons of Wilson's career, the Seahawks finished outside the top 10 in rushing efficiency."

With Melvin Gordon III entering his eighth season and Javonte Williams entering his second, the Broncos appear poised to give Wilson that kind of successful ground game.

"To have the kind of offense the Broncos want, one that gives Wilson every chance to maximize his elite talent, the Broncos will need significant contributions from both running backs — and hopefully with more of a sprinkling from reserve Mike Boone than the change-of-pace back provided during his first year in Denver," Kosmider writes.

Below the Fold

Kosmider also recently provided an interesting look at Denver’s schedule by identifying the toughest opponents in particular categories, like toughest pass rush, toughest secondary and more. The one that must have been the most challenging to pick was probably the toughest pass game to defend.

"This is a tough call with Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs popping up twice on the schedule, but the Chargers are poised to become arguably the NFL's most potent passing attack in 2022 as Justin Herbert enters his third year surrounded by playmakers and an improving offensive line," Kosmider writes. "Los Angeles finished fifth in passing EPA and third in EPA per dropback in 2021, according to TruMedia, and there are a handful of signs that point toward an even bigger season for Herbert, the No. 6 pick in 2020, most notably another season of continuity with head coach Brandon Staley and his staff."

The Unclassifieds

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