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Russell Wilson
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Some people are fans of the Denver Broncos. But many, many more people are NOT fans of the Denver Broncos. This 2022 Defector NFL team preview is for those in the latter group. Read all the previews so far here.

Your team: Denver Broncos.

Your 2021 record: A respectable 7-10. There were worse seven-win teams out there last season (the Falcons), so really I don’t know how you can call the 2021 Broncos anything other than a success. YOU try winning seven games when you have Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Lock as your quarterbacks. If I had been coaching this team with those two at the helm, you guys would have been good and fucked.

Not that these Broncos were all that FUN. You just had your fifth losing season in a row. You lost a Thursday Night game to Case Keenum. You went 1-5 in the division. You blew a 3-0 start out of the gate. You closed the season with four straight losses. You haven’t had a running back crack 1,200 yards since 2004 (Reuben Droughns!). You traded Von Miller midseason after he demanded his teammates chip in for a Halloween party he threw at his house (Miller would go on to win a Super Bowl). And also this happened:

Let’s see what Drew Lock had to say about that sequence!

"I should've handed that thing off to Javonte. But also, if I run that thing into the end zone, make the defensive end miss, who knows what's being said right now?"

The man makes a solid point. What if, instead of having the ball ripped clean out of his hands by a fat guy, Lock had instead acquired the powers of Nightcrawler and simply teleported into the end zone? I bet you’d have been pretty impressed if THAT had happened. And what if Drew Lock urinates 100-percent potable Country Time lemonade? Think of what people would say THEN? So you see, this play was merely a cosmic fluke that played out only in this universe and not in the other 72 universes that exist. You’d be a fool to draw conclusions from it.

Anyway, the Broncos responded to all of this by making Vic Fangio the first head coach to be fired on Black Monday (congrats, Vic!). In his place you now have …

Your coach: This guy.

Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images
ENGLEWOOD, CO - MARCH 16: Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett of the Denver Broncos looks on as Quarterback Russell Wilson of the Denver Broncos address the media at UCHealth Training Center on March 16, 2022 in Englewood, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

Somehow the man you see in the above photo is Paul Hackett’s son and not Paul Hackett’s father. Perhaps in another, better universe, Nathaniel Hackett is a 42-year-old who actually looks like he’s 42 and not like the last living Dixiecrat still serving in Congress. If you’re younger than I am, you can at least have the goddamn courtesy to look the part instead looking like you drink baby blood to stay alive. Hackett comes to Denver after serving as offensive coordinator for the Packers, which only sounds impressive if no one told you that Hackett, prior to his arrival in Green Bay, was the preferred offensive coordinator for Doug Marrone. That’s right: we’re talking about a guy who presided over the vaunted offenses of both the Bortles Jaguars and the Kyle Orton Bills. If you thought this offense needed a laxative a season ago, you ain’t seen shit. Literally.

Hackett was hired, ostensibly, to lure a disgruntled Aaron Rodgers from the Packers out west. Broncos fans didn’t just hope for this, they actively assumed it would come to pass. We’re the Broncos! they told everyone. Who doesn’t want to play in Nicer Kansas for a team whose owner died three years ago? Well, apparently y’all were just a little TOO vaccinated for Rodgers’s taste, so he stayed put in the wasteland while you guys desperately attempted to save face by trading the world for… Kyler Murray? ‘Fraid not.

Your quarterback: Broncos Country, LET’S RIDE!

That’s Russell Wilson, who’ll be good for two more wins and at least 200 more “look how hard I work” Instagram posts. Wilson hasn’t won a Super Bowl in eight years and hasn’t been tolerable for his entire lifetime. He had the worst QBR of his career a season ago. He posted the first losing record of his career last year as well. All of his teammates hated him. And before you say to me, Yeah but Drew Russ only struggled last year because his finger pulled a Brian Baldinger, I’d like you to remember that Wilson exacerbated his stigmata injury by coming back a week too soon and crediting his speedy recovery to maintaining Ray Ratto’s sleep schedule.

Nineteen hours a day. Sure, buddy. And you’ve had sex with your wife, too. Likely stories all around.

To acquire Wilson, the Broncos traded away two first-round picks, two second-round picks, tight end Noah Fant, and defensive tackle Shelby Harris. I just spent the past five years watching this man ply his trade from inside an empty cupboard. What in the living FUCK do the Broncos think is gonna be any different with this sorry-ass roster around him? What, you think the son of one of the worst playcallers in NFL history is gonna magically de-age Wilson’s finger, or instantly fix a defense that promises to be one of the NFL’s worst? If you guys don’t think you’re gonna see the immortal Brett Rypien get emergency playing time this coming season, well then I want directions to the dispensary you just visited. Every game Wilson plays this year will unfold like that one game where Peyton Manning got benched.

What’s new that sucks: Congratulations! You have a new owner. One who looks younger than your new head coach!

Photo by Rick T. Wilking/Getty Images
FAYETTEVILLE, AR - JUNE 1: Rob Walton speaks during the annual Walmart shareholders meeting event on June 1, 2018 in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The shareholders week brings thousands of shareholders and associates from around the world to meet at the company's global headquarters. (Photo by Rick T. Wilking/Getty Images)

When Rob Walton isn’t busy paying his employees exclusively in sugar packets, he’s DRIVIN’ FAST CARS VROOM VROOM.

While Mr. Walton has not personally contributed to the Walton Family Foundation, he has spent tens of millions of dollars collecting vintage sports cars. Rob Walton’s car collection reportedly includes a Ferrari 250 GTO (which sell for $35 to $52 Million), a 1965 Shelby Cobra (valued at $820 Thousand), a 1964 Ferrari 250 LM (valued at $14.6 Million), a 1960 Maserati T60, a 1958 Scarab MKI, a 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB (valued at up to $4.1 Million), a 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa (purchased by Rob for $12.1 Million; one recently sold for $39.8 Million).

Credit to Rob: at least he didn’t buy a fucking pickup truck with all that loot. Rob also brought Condi Rice aboard as a showy part owner. Condi Rice thinks that liking football makes her more relatable than your average war criminal. Fuck Condi Rice with a SCUD missile.

On the field, the Broncos signed another Green Bay import in guard Billy Turner. No matter how well Turner plays in pass protection, Wilson will still run around in the backfield like there’s an incoming nuclear attack. To bolster their pass rush, they also signed away Randy Gregory from Dallas. He’ll be suspended by the time you read this. Also new to the D-line are former Niner DJ Jones and actual-draft-pick-you-had-this-year Nik Bonitto. Nik Bonitto sounds like the name of Chicago’s most vicious bootlegger. Instead he’s just some dickhead from Florida. With the departure of corner Bryce Callahan, the Broncos elevated Ronald Darby to take his spot. That’s right: Ronald Darby is still in the NFL! Remarkable. But hey, who needs promising defensive talent when THIS man is your senior defensive assistant!

[George Michael voice] I've waited so long baby
Now that we're friends
Every man's got his patience
And here's where mine ends
(Photo by NFL via Getty Images)
GREEN BAY, WI - CIRCA 2010: In this photo provided by the NFL, Dom Capers of the Green Bay Packers poses for his 2010 NFL headshot circa 2010 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by NFL via Getty Images)

[Wooderson voice] That’s what I love about Dom Capers. He gets older, his hair stays the same age. NFL teams now pass Dom Capers along to one another on an annual basis, like he’s a fucking tiki idol they can’t keep in the house for very long or else someone in the family will die in a car accident. How about you guys hire literally anyone else?

Russell Wilson introduced a new energy drink that’s “NFT-powered,” which presumably means it takes 58 metric tons of coal to produce one bottle. Tim Patrick just tore his ACL. Jerry Jeudy had misdemeanor charges against him dropped this offseason. Given his style of play, I’m surprised Jeudy wasn’t able to drop the charge himself.

Everyone in the front office is still an alcoholic.

What has always sucked: Despite having three Super Bowl wins since 1997, these fans act like the Broncos have done nothing for them. These people are never, ever satisfied. I’ve dated more reasonable people. Now their team’s got an aging quarterback playing in what is by far the toughest division in football, and these fans not only think that they have a shot, but that the playoffs are a lock. A kindergartener has more realistic expectations. Meanwhile, Denver is a traffic jam and the rest of Colorado is an Evangelical sect that makes Fred Phelps look like a reasonable person.

Ratto says: Rob Walton has enough money to buy every NFL team ranked 14 to 31 in net worth, which means that he is as powerful as he wants to be despite being the newest kid in the room. Normally you have to be a proven reptilian like Jerry Jones, Bob Kraft or Stan Kroenke, but since Walton is the richest guy not only in the NFL but in a Walton clan that includes Kroenke, Walton will be fast-tracked to Roger Goodell's hotline, if that's his idea of a good time, which it almost surely cannot be.

What might not suck: Look how fast Russ can push an empty cart!

Watch out, fellow King Soopers customers!



I’ve never seen a team so fundamentally cowardly in its construction.


I live near Walmart HQ. When Rob Walton bought the Broncos, my parents asked, in all seriousness, if they were moving to Bentonville. I had to take a beat before I answered "No, come on." I may still end up being wrong.


Denver is just Phoenix with a scarier airport.


The Broncos are really trying to say that the allegations in Brian Flores’ lawsuit aren’t true? John Elway only interviewing Flores because of the Rooney Rule and then showing up to the interview drunk as fuck tracks with ALL of his past behavior.


Russell Wilson is a dork and I can't believe I'm going to be stuck rooting for him for the next decade. Everyone wants to act like Wilson is the one missing piece Denver needs when, in reality, we've gone from worst team in the AFC West to the second worst team in the AFC West. 

We finally got rid of the fucking trust for Bowlen's idiot children just to replace them with a Walton. That sound you're hearing is Mile High Stadium turning 21 and Rob Walton wondering how much money he can suck out of Denver for some new digs that will certainly be in a way worse location. 


Do you guys like the current movie culture where almost everything is a rehash of something awesome from 20, 10, or even just five years ago? Do you like how that movie is never very good but still makes a quadrillion dollars and dominates casual conversation? Well do I have a team for you.  

After half a decade of the blandest sub-500 football I've ever witnessed; the Broncos have said fuck it, we're doing a soft reboot. Sell the rights to a mega-corp that doesn't give a shit about the product (Wal-Mart). Find a brand-bot star who kind of resembles the guys who came before (Wilson). And put a promising young director in charge who will certainly be kneecapped by fan expectations (Hackett). Presto! Now the losing will at least be big and loud and the only thing fans want to talk about. 

If we lose to the Chiefs only by single digits the whole state will be anointing the team as a contender and will give Wilson a dorky western nickname like "The Deputy.”


I was sick of Russell Wilson before training camp started. He rolled into town immediately after the ink was dry and started forcing his squeaky clean, goody two-shoes schtick on us. He visited the children's hospital, threw out the first pitch at a Rockies game, and somehow tried to take credit for the Avs winning the Stanley Cup. I don't trust any of it. Plus, we gave up way too much for a QB clearly past his prime.

The sad part is, he's probably a legitimately good guy that these psychotic hill people need. I'm just so paranoid after years of letdown that I don't trust anyone with a last name that isn't Elway or Manning. I'm clearly the dick here.

Fuck Josh McDaniels with his own visor.


Look at the Broncos faithful at any sunny Sunday afternoon game in the Mile High city. Sure, you’ll see your Manning jerseys and some Elway throwbacks. A Von Miller here, a knockoff Atwater there, and I’m sure they’ve sold a ton of Wilson jerseys. But ya know what you’re gonna see a bunch of? Tebow jerseys. 


I have so thoroughly given myself over to the cult of our new, goofy, concussion water-promoting quarterback that there are days where I forget that he was one of the key figures in the worst Broncos humiliation of my lifetime. Let's Ride. 


Russell Wilson is trying so damn hard to make "Let's Ride" happen. With the power of Wal-Mart behind him, the merch will soon be unavoidable.


Now the franchise has been bought by Walmart heirs, there will be 100-year-old greeters at the turnstiles, second-tier discounted soft goods, and players will have to shave 5% off their contracts annually. 


It's a 50/50 call whether our fanbase will embrace Russell Wilson because of his Tebow-esque commitment to bland Christian platitudes, or run him out of town because he's black. 

Drew (not me):

We wasted the rest of Von Miller's time in Denver for him to get traded to LA and win a Super Bowl for Stan Kroenke. Fuck Stan Kroenke and his mange-ridden ferret of a toupee.

Pat Bowlen seemed to be pretty decent for a billionaire. He didn't outright shove five-year-olds into coal mines or foreclose on war widows (as far as I know). Now the Broncos are owned by a fucking Walton because the Bowlen family couldn't play nice and figure out how not to murder the golden goose. Can't wait to see the stadium employees and training staff being fired for mentioning the "union" word in hushed tones.


The most insufferable altar boy in the NFL is the next great hope for Colorado, and now I can't go to the fucking gas station without hearing about how much upside Russell goddamn Wilson brings. They might as well ask me to root for Rod Flanders. Thanks a lot, assholes.


This fanbase considers a 15-yard in pattern from Tebow to DT (RIP) in a divisional playoff game to be the greatest play they've ever seen. ALL of the credit goes to Tebow.


They keep causing me to rewrite my moral boundaries in bigger ways than all football already does.

I am basically as liberal as you can be for someone in a red state out West. I buy local when possible, I support unions, I want bike and pedestrian-friendly cities and all of that lefty namby-pamby. But when the team got bought by one of the Walmart heirs, I said, “at least he’s not the worst of them.” That statement was based on nothing. I did no research, I just know, deep down, that only a good person, or at least not the worst person, could own my favorite team. Then they announced that Condoleezza Rice was joining the ownership group. Well, at least she wasn’t the worst Bush, Jr. cabinet member. Next thing you know they will say that fucking Clarence Thomas has joined as a special advisor and I’ll be posting on here how Alito is definitively worse.

Anyway, I can’t wait to drive down for the game and go to one of Denver’s now-hundreds of lame, corporate, faux-hipster beer bars/coffee shops/restaurants that are cropping up in every western city worth caring about to cater to people who used to summer in Montenegro but are now out here because everywhere else was “too sensitive” about the pandemic. Go Broncos!


The monkey’s paw has fully curled. Morally we have become the most detestable team this side of Dan Snyder. I’m sure our new Walmart failson owner will be taking notes from Washington on how to turn a respectable franchise into a stinking mass of rot. No matter how well 2022’s season goes, the clock is already ticking. Our mighty stallion has a heart full of black mold. The killer is in the house.

Von Miller is gonna get a third ring this year. We sold our souls to still lose to the fucking Chiefs twice every fall.


When I was a wee lad in the 80s, I became an out-of-market Broncos fan because their colors were neat. For New Year's Eve 2006, my wife and I took a flight to Denver to see them play. I'd never been to Colorado. Or an NFL game. This was the treat of a lifetime... and it was a good ol' fashioned week 17 "win (or tie) and you're in" throwdown. The better than average Broncos just needed to beat the shitass 49ers to get that final, succulent, Wild Card spot. They were double-digit favorites. It was a wonderful time to make this first pilgrimage to my personal Football Mecca. Expectations were out of control. I was not mentally prepared for anything bad to happen.San Fran waited until there were two minutes left in OT before kicking the game winning field goal. My wife is a 49ers fan.When our cab driver picked us up the next morning, he told us Darrent Williams was murdered about 1/2 mile from our hotel last night.You know what would have been nice? That exact same little holiday jaunt to Denver, but without the Broncos part.

Submissions for the Defector NFL previews are closed. Next up: Seattle Seahawks.

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