Russell Wilson putting historic record to the test with Steelers

The unstoppable force is about to meet the immovable object...

Russell Wilson
Russell Wilson / Perry Knotts/GettyImages
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The unstoppable force is about to meet the immovable object with Russell Wilson heading off to the Pittsburgh Steelers in NFL Free Agency.

Wilson announced the deal on his personal Twitter account, and it's been reported that the contract will be worth $1.21 million for the 2024 season.

What does that mean for the Denver Broncos financially? Well, it means that you can deduct $1.21 million from the $39 million they owe Wilson for the 2024 season. The Broncos will pay Russell Wilson $37.79 million to play for the Steelers this year. It's truly an unprecedented situation.

But that's not what we're here to discuss today. What we're here to discuss is the unstoppable force that is the decline of Russell Wilson's career about to collide with the immovable object that is Mike Tomlin's record of 17 straight non-losing seasons as the Pittsburgh Steelers' head coach. Mike Tomlin doesn't even know what it feels like to have a losing season at this point. For as long as a generation of NFL fans have been alive, Tomlin has been .500 or better as a head coach.

This is truly the best possible situation for Russell Wilson to land in. The Pittsburgh Steelers have the right infrastructure seemingly every single year to find their way to the postseason. If they are able to make it with Kenny Pickett, Mitch Trubisky, and Mason Rudolph rotating at QB, then certainly they are going to be able to make it with Wilson, right?

It's not going to be as simple as that, to be certain. As you watch shows like Good Morning Football the day after Wilson's decision to sign with Pittsburgh, you see them blasting his stats from 2023 (completion rate, touchdown/interception ratio, QB rating) and making it seem like Russ is going to be a massive upgrade for them.

And he very well may turn out to be.

But much of Wilson's success in Denver came last season in 2-minute situations at the end of either the first or second half. It isn't like Wilson was this model of efficiency under Sean Payton and had the offense humming. If that was the case, we wouldn't be talking about Russell Wilson as the QB of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The reality is, the Steelers are getting a quarterback whose best came outside of structure. Russell Wilson was vastly improved under Sean Payton in terms of taking care of the ball, but that's largely because the Broncos didn't throw the ball anywhere near the middle of the field, and so many of Russ's passes were at or behind the line of scrimmage.

The lack of ability to push the ball to every level of the field caused the Broncos to face a ton of loaded boxes as well, and they didn't run the ball particularly well or efficiently last season. The Steelers are getting a much better player than Kenny Pickett (in my opinion), but how much is the combination of Russell Wilson and offensive coordinator Arthur Smith going to upgrade that Steelers offensive operation?

The conditions need to be right for Russ to have success. He's like the Kyle Korver of the NFL. You've got an all-time great three-point shooter and a guy who can hit his free-throws. He's proven he can be an effective piece on even great teams throughout the course of his career. But you can't put too much of the burden on his shoulders. "Letting Russ Cook" for the Steelers is going to mean everything else around Russ will have to go right.

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Will the inevitable Mike Tomlin be inevitable with Russell Wilson as his starting QB? It's going to be fascinating to watch.

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