Alarming stat proves why Broncos moved on from Russell Wilson in 2024

This is horrific.
Denver Broncos, Russell Wilson
Denver Broncos, Russell Wilson / Ethan Miller/GettyImages

Over the course of an NFL season, you simply can't sustain success offensively if you can't get the job done on third down. The Denver Broncos were models of that in 2023, converting just 36.8 percent of their third-down attempts into first downs overall as a team. Where the Broncos really struggled on third down was in the passing game.

A statistic recently posted by Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) on Twitter/X reveals just how brutal the Broncos had it last year with Russell Wilson at the helm in terms of converting both third-down and fourth-down plays into first-downs.

Since that post requires you to click on the "Show more", Russell Wilson is ranked 30th on that list overall. What is that list showing? It's showing the 1st-down conversion rate of quarterbacks in the 2023 season on 3rd and 4th down attempts only. There were 38 starting quarterbacks ranked on that list, or quarterbacks who started a significant enough chunk of games last year to qualify.

With 48 passing first downs on third-down attempts, the Denver Broncos ranked 4th-worst in the entire league last season. Fourth-down pass attempts converted into first downs feel a bit inconsequential in the grand scheme of things, but the Broncos were one of only seven NFL teams last season with three or fewer fourth-down passes converted to first downs.

Both of those numbers do include Jarrett Stidham's two starts with the Broncos, but the picture is effectively painted, isn't it?

To Russell Wilson's credit, he had a QB rating over 108 on third down plays and nine passing touchdowns on third downs, which was a top-10 mark in the league overall. But even if you add the touchdowns into the mix, the Broncos were still one of the worst passing attacks on third down plays all of last season. They were also 30th last season in second-down passing plays that resulted in a first down.

When you break down some of the numbers from last year, they help paint a picture of what we all saw last year in terms of the offense just not operating cleanly. Nobody is trying to drag Russell Wilson at this point, but people seem to think that the Broncos made the most egregious decision ever by getting rid of Russell Wilson based on his stats last year.

Wilson did help the Broncos win a number of games. And as the quarterback of the team, he's also got to fall on the sword for some of the late-game debacles last year like we saw against the Jets, Texans, and Patriots. The Broncos relied heavily on turnovers and additional opportunities for the offense throughout their winning streak last season. They relied heavily on late-game heroics. It wouldn't have been necessary if the team had been more efficient at moving the chains within the structure of the offense.

A major part of the problem, as has been continually outlined, was the fact that Wilson took way too many unnecessary sacks on third down. Russell Wilson was sacked 45 times last season and Pro Football Focus credited the Denver offensive line with 16 sacks allowed. You can do the math on that one.

The grass isn't always greener on the other side, but the Denver Broncos are eating a lot of cash and dead cap space this year (almost $38 million cash, $53 million in dead cap) to move on from Russell Wilson. No matter if you look at the film or the stats, the reasons why are becoming more and more abundantly obvious.