Heading into training camp, Russell Wilson and the Denver Broncos will fight to win the AFC West — and more. What history must they avoid?
It seems like no coincidence that Russell Wilson’s illustrious NFL career began back in 2012, the same year Peyton Manning came to the Denver Broncos as a free agent.
The Seahawks‘ addition of Wilson and the Broncos’ addition of Manning changed the fortunes of those two franchises for the better, with each team winning a title within their first four years of joining the team.
Although the Broncos and Wilson have experienced significantly different levels of success since Peyton Manning retired, neither have hoisted the Lombardi since that time.
Now, just like Manning did in 2012 for the Broncos, Russell Wilson is hoping he can be the catalyst for significant change in the Mile High City. Unlike that 2012 team, Wilson must help the Denver Broncos avoid a dreaded label.
Everyone expects the Broncos to be much better in 2022 than they were in 2021 or any of the years since Peyton Manning retired.
It’s not just about being better, though. It’s about being the best.
Russell Wilson must prevent Denver Broncos history from repeating
When Peyton Manning signed with the Denver Broncos in 2012, expectations were all over the place. Nobody knew whether or not it was going to go well for Denver because Manning, at the time, was coming off of five neck procedures.
Would his arrival in Denver just be another Jerry Rice or Simeon Rice kind of thing? Or would it actually work?
Through the first five-and-a-half weeks of the season, it looked like Manning in Denver might be a complete disappointment.
The Broncos were 2-3 and went into halftime against the San Diego Chargers trailing 24-0. It looked like they were headed to a 2-4 record with the bye week looming, and almost halfway through the way into the season, that was unacceptable.
At halftime of that Chargers game, though, something clicked.
Not only did the Denver Broncos come back to win the game, but they won in impressive fashion, scoring 35 unanswered points in a dominating second half.
And that half of football would set the tone for the remainder of the season.
Starting with that game against the Chargers, the Broncos didn’t lose a single game the rest of the season.
Heading into the playoffs with a bye week, Peyton Manning’s arrival had turned out to be everything everyone had hoped for, and then some.
He was playing at an MVP level. The Broncos’ defense and special teams were both playing well. From top to bottom, this was a team that had no real weaknesses even if the roster didn’t look perfect on paper.
Everything was laid out for the Broncos to be Super Bowl champions in Peyton Manning’s first year with the team.
- Team playing complete football in all three phases
- Healthy going into the playoffs
- Home field advantage
It was all there.
Unfortunately, in a fateful matchup at home against the Baltimore Ravens in the playoffs, the 2012 Denver Broncos became something that Russell Wilson must prevent now in 2022.
They became the best Denver Broncos team to not win a Super Bowl.
They became the franchise’s biggest “What If?” of all time.
Is that a lot of pressure to put on Wilson’s shoulders? Absolutely.
Is he worthy of carrying that mantle? Absolutely.
The 2022 Denver Broncos have plenty of new pieces and moving parts. Is this a perfect roster on paper? No, it isn’t but is it a roster that can win a Super Bowl?
Yes, it 100 percent is.