The Dolphins are 2-0 with two road wins. The Broncos are looking for their first win of the season after two losses in the Mile High City.
But this has all the trappings of a trap game — and there’s one major reason why:
Russell Wilson no longer stinks.
Miami Dolphins To Face Revitalized Russell Wilson
Wilson and the Broncos have scored 49 points in their first two games and were an uncalled defensive pass interference away from forcing overtime in Week 2 despite trailing 35-24 at the two-minute warning.
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) September 19, 2023
The Broncos are 0-2 with a point differential of -3. The Dolphins are 2-0 with a point differential of +9. That’s how small the margin of error is in the NFL.
And if Wilson continues to play like he has so far under Sean Payton, they should be in almost every game they play.
“His résumé speaks for itself and the things he’s been able to do in this league,” said Dolphins defensive tackle Christian Wilkins. “He presents a lot of challenges, just being able to obviously be great in the pocket, run when he needs to, a great leader and things like that.”
“I’ve gotten to play him once in my career, and he was able to do some pretty impressive things throwing the ball, running, launching it down the field, and different things like that,” Wilkins added. “I’m excited for the challenge that he brings and looking forward to it, always.”
This is just the fourth time the Dolphins have faced Wilson and the first since 2020.
Wilson has won two of the three previous meetings with Miami, completing 69.2% of his passes for five touchdowns, two interceptions, a passer rating of 101.5, and an 8.1 yards-per-attempt average.
But in 2022, his first year in Denver, Wilson looked nothing like a quarterback capable of putting up those stats.
The marriage of Wilson and Nathaniel Hackett was doomed for the start, and his career bottomed out as a result.
Wilson ranked outside the top 10 in any major passing category and was 27th in QBR (38.7) and passer rating (83.9), 31st in completion percentage (60.5), 35th in adjusted EPA/play (.01), and 38th in completion percentage over expectation (-1.1).
It was so bad that it was almost inexplicable. But there might be an explanation:
The coaching he got was brutal.
Enter Payton, the longtime Saints coach who is back in the NFL after taking the 2022 season off.
The change has done Wilson good (at least so far):
- Third in TDs (5) and CPOE (9.3)
- Fourth in passer rating (108.5)
- Seventh in adjusted EPA/play (.22)
- 10th in YPA(7.3)
- 11th in QBR (61.5)
- 12th in completion percentage (68.2)
As a result, he has the full attention of a Dolphins locker room that, aside from a couple of greybeards, grew up watching Wilson do magical things on the football field.
“Russell Wilson is a household name,” said Dolphins safety Jevon Holland. “He’s one of the best. My mom loves the Seahawks, and I grew up watching the Seahawks, and now he’s on the Broncos, and I get to play him. For me, it’s cool I get to study a quarterback of that caliber.
“The same as studying Aaron Rodgers like I did and Tom Brady like I did. I’m excited for the game. Each team has different challenges, and I know the Broncos have a hell of a team. I’m excited to play them. I got friends on that team. I’m looking forward to it.”
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