Denver Broncos: Are Russell Wilson’s legs are the missing ingredient?

Denver Broncos, Nathaniel Hackett, Russell Wilson - Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Denver Broncos, Nathaniel Hackett, Russell Wilson - Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

One thing that might not solve every issue, but it would help for the Denver Broncos, is Russell Wilson being more willing to use his legs. In the 20 regular season games that Russell Wilson has run for a touchdown, the Seattle Seahawks were 15-5.

His most efficient rushing season was in 2014, he ran for 849 rushing yards on 118 attempts with six touchdowns. That is asking for way too much, but something along the lines of his 2019 season where he ran the ball 75 times for 342 yards and three touchdowns would certainly help the team in short yardage situation.

Russell Wilson has had a couple of multi-rushing touchdown games, but the last time it happened was in 2019. His touchdown runs have all been split, for the most part, seven from three or fewer yards, seven from 4-9 yards, and six from 10-19 and the rest were 20+.

In his career, he has run for 23 total touchdowns.

Outside of the Buffalo Bills game in his rookie season, 87 percent of his touchdown runs fell under nine yards. Goal-to-go situations begin at the 10-yard line. What does that tell me? Russell Wilson has produced the majority of his touchdown runs in the red zone, where the Denver Broncos need the help the most right now.

There have been plenty of opportunities in this short season already for Russell Wilson to take advantage of the opposing defense with his legs, he just hasn’t. He has just three carries for five yards this season.

While the last thing the Denver Broncos want is Russell Wilson to lead them in rushing like he did the Seattle Seahawks in 2017, it is fair to hope his legs can at least be a threat like they have been for most of his career.

Outside of the strange season Wilson had in 2021 and 2016, Wilson has averaged at least 21 yards per game per season, getting as high as 53 rushing yards per game in 2014. Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon are here for the Denver Broncos, that will not happen this season, but Russell Wilson could be the difference maker in the red zone for a struggling group.

In 2021, Wilson averages just three rushes per game, the lowest output of his career. In fact, there have only been three other seasons where he has averaged less than five carries per game, and those were a solid four carries per game.

Another interesting stat is every rushing touchdown that Russell Wilson has had dating back to 2015 has been when his team was either tied or losing. Outside of his rookie season, only four of his rushing touchdowns in totality have been when his team had the lead. Does this give us some insight on when Russell Wilson is looking to use his legs? Is it only in do-or-die moments?

The fact of the matter is, that Russell Wilson is not looking to run at this point in his career and the Denver Broncos should not force this upon him. However, he was brought into this organization as someone who was considered to have this tool in his bag.

If Wilson does not want to run outside of the red zone, fine. But when it comes down to the nitty gritty, and Russell Wilson passing up a clear running lane to the endzone, I do have an issue with that. Just two weeks in, the Denver Broncos are 0-6 in the red zone. That is abysmal. There have been plenty of points left on the board, not from just missed opportunities, but turnovers and penalties as well.

On a team with growth needed, communication lacking, having something a defense can not account for in Russell Wilson’s legs might be in the team’s best interest. Russell Wilson’s running ability would add another dimension that is hard to prepare for by an opposing defense.