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Restoring Russell Wilson

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  • Restoring Russell Wilson

    I'll say this. If Russ doesn't have a big rebound year it won't be for lack of trying, planning, and brain power from Penner, Payton, and Webb. Webb seems like a future coaching star.

    "Webb had no coaching experience at any level, though the Bills had reportedly wanted to make him their QB coach after his playing contract with Buffalo expired following the 2021 season. Still, Payton had no previous relationship with the 28-year-old. But after Payton called Eli Manning -- Webb was Manning's third-round rookie backup with the Giants in 2017 -- the two-time Super Bowl champion vouched for his former teammate and good friend, and the interview was set up. With a few days to prepare, Webb -- who describes himself as "a big PowerPoint guy" -- put together a 30-page presentation for Payton, the offensive coaching staff and Broncos general manager George Paton.

    I did a ton of film watching of Russ, but I had also done it last year, so I kind of just looked at my notes, too. I just watch QBs around the league to stay up to date," Webb told me while the two of us sat on a bench outside the Broncos' practice facility near the end of training camp. "I ended up calling a couple of buddies that were also mutual friends with Russ to try and gather as much information as I could about him to walk in there and be prepared. Those first five slides were dedicated just for Russ because I saw a lot of great things from last year that nobody is talking about. And the way that he finished, in particular."

    Webb left the interview and headed to the airport. But Payton was so inspired by Webb's plan for Wilson -- and how he'd coach the quarterback room as a whole -- that the head coach called the driver who was taking Webb to the airport and told him to turn around. Webb walked back into the Broncos' facility and Payton hired him on the spot. That same day, Webb dove in headfirst on building a relationship with Wilson. The two FaceTimed as Webb's plane was about to take off, with flight attendants eventually forcing an end to the call. But during their conversation, Webb delivered a message built on honesty and truth, a message that he rehashed to me:

    "I retired to come and hang out and coach you. Because I believe in you. If I didn't, I'd be a free agent, and God knows where I'd be. You came here for a reason, and we have a new common goal. We're here together and this is a brand new year for all of us. Because I don't know what happened last year -- and frankly, I don't care."
    Webb was essentially a player/coach over his last four seasons in the NFL with the Bills and Giants. He'd have his own meetings with the quarterbacks throughout the week, wide receivers twice a week and rookies three times a week. He'd present his notes from the week to both the offensive and defensive coaches. Webb jokes that he's coaching because he's been around so many great quarterbacks that he rarely had a chance to get on the field. But being college/pro teammates with signal-callers like Patrick Mahomes, Baker Mayfield, Josh Allen, Josh McCown, Sam Darnold, Tyrod Taylor, Manning and Jones also allows a man who has been taking notes and building his coaching portfolio for the last six years to develop a blueprint on how he wants things to be done.

    "One of the things that has always bothered me so much over the years, that I've seen or been with, is that there is so much copy and paste," Webb said of NFL coaching. "As opposed to looking at your player as an individual, and making your practice plan and drill tape and the way you do meetings dedicated to that individual. And not many people do that, sadly. And so that's all I think about, to be honest with you. What's the best way to reach him to allow him to play fast and react quickly?"
    One thing that was noticeable at Denver's training camp this year: Wilson is playing in a similar style to what we saw in his Seattle days, when he earned nine Pro Bowl bids and went to two Super Bowls, winning one. The plan from Payton, Webb and the offensive staff is to lean on the stuff Wilson is comfortable with -- what he has a history with -- and avoid everything else.

    "If it doesn't look good and he doesn't feel good about it, it ain't worth it. It's gone," Webb said of the process of creating the playbook. "He's the one with the ball in his hands. That's what I believe in most of all -- and that might be the former player in me talking. If a quarterback doesn't have conviction on a play, the play isn't as good on the field as it is on the board."

    Russ is also roughly 15 pounds lighter than he was last year. Wilson and this coaching staff have been very open about how often they expect his legs to be utilized this season, an aspect of the QB's game that wasn't always on display in 2022.

    "He's top three greatest dual threats of all time, depending on how you look at it, three or five," Webb said. "He's a special player."

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    • #3
      So what I gather from that is more or less what I think most folks thought when Payton came in....and that was Russ was going to be put in an offense much more like what they run in Seattle. And the offseason signings reflected that as well. Russ wanted to be this guy who throws it all over the yard, get accolades for himself and cement his case as an all time great. He tarnished his legacy some trying to do that, and now he has coaches, and roster moves that are all about putting russ back into a run heavy offense that he is expected to operate efficiently and surely will have him tossing some PA moon shots. Frankly it's the best plan for him.