DENVER — When the Broncos return to the field in September, they'll have a new head coach and should regain a number of critical players who missed a large portion of the 2022 season due to injury.
As Denver aims to end its seven-year playoff drought, both of those elements should boost the Broncos' chances in 2023.
The Broncos, though, will also need to improve at the game's most important position — and quarterback Russell Wilson is dedicated to making that happen.
"I know that I feel like I fell short of my own standards and my own level of expectations, what I know how to do and how I love to do it," Wilson said after a season-ending win over the Chargers. "I just want to recapture that."
Wilson said his expectations for himself have not changed, and his goal remains to win and to compete and capture world championships.
"My motivation is winning," Wilson said. "My motivation is helping this football team win. That is what I came here to do: to help the Denver Broncos win. We are going to do that. We are going to turn this thing around."
In recent weeks, Wilson has demonstrated his ability to still play at the highest level.
In a Week 17 loss to the Chiefs, Wilson threw for 222 yards and a touchdown and also added two rushing touchdowns in the Broncos' three-point road loss.
Then, in Sunday's win, Wilson posted his second game this season with three passing touchdowns and completed three passes of at least 50 yards. Wilson recorded three total touchdowns in three of his final four games of the season.
The Broncos' focus on Wilson's deep-passing ability and threat as a runner has seemingly helped the Broncos' signal-caller return to his previous form.
As the Broncos move forward, Wilson's teammates expect that strong play to continue.
"The way Russ prepares and the way that he gets himself and the team ready to go out and play, it's second to none," Courtland Sutton said. "Jerry [Jeudy] and KJ [Hamler] both said it best, saying that Russ brings the best out of everybody. He demands guys' best just by the way he carries himself, the way he prepares, the way that he shows up and goes to work every single day. He's the same guy every day, and guys know who they're going to get whenever he comes into that building and when he steps onto the field for game day. The guy is prepared, he makes sure the guys around him are prepared.
"He's doing everything he possibly can, and I have no hesitation to think that Russell won't come back and have a Pro Bowl or All-Pro season next year. Yeah, things didn't go the way we wanted this year, and guys are going to point fingers and try to say this and that all offseason because we can't technically defend ourselves. What we put on film is what we put on film, and that is what we got to hold on to. However, we know what he does, we know the preparation he puts in, we know how much he cares about this game and how much he cares about the guys around him. There's nothing in my body that questions if he's going to be able to come back and be All-Pro and a Pro Bowl caliber quarterback next year for us."
The work must continue into 2023 — and Wilson expects his offseason work will begin immediately, as he aims to recapture the level of play that helped him earn nine Pro Bowl bids in his first 10 seasons.
"This is coming up on Year 12, and I believe in consistency, being consistent in your habits and work ethic, in what you do," Wilson said. "Every day is thought out, planned out, every day, the diligence of that. Every year you always evolve, and you're always trying to learn different things."
As Wilson and the Broncos head into a new season, though, they likely both hope that a new year can bring familiar results for Wilson.
"Hopefully, a lot of wins and get back to what we know how to do," Wilson said of future expectations. "I think that what I'm excited about is what I came here to do, [which] is to win championships. This year didn't happen and every year you go into hoping that's the case. I've been fortunate to be at the highest level sometimes but sometimes you go through tough times, too. I know that with the diligence [we have] that we're going to put into it together, what I'm going to give to this every single day, and then the excitement of it all here and with new changes and everything else, we're going to continue to grow together."