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Russell Wilson

Russell Wilson's new chapter has helped spark Broncos' resurgence from early-season fiasco

The NFL Week 11 notebook takes a look at Russell Wilson's role in the Broncos' resurgence, Steve Wilks' new perspective and more.

Raise your hand if you had Russell Wilson pegged as washed up.

You know who you are. Wilson had the worst season of his career in 2022, his first year with the Denver Broncos, and it was so easy for people to pile on.

No, the football that Wilson produced last season under then-coach Nathaniel Hackett wasn’t pretty.

But look at him now. The reports of his demise were so premature.

Wilson, 34, has been revived along with the team that takes a three-game winning streak into Sunday night’s clash against the Minnesota Vikings.

NFL STATS CENTRAL: . Although he would not reveal how much weight he shed since the 2022 campaign ended (he was still listed at 5-11, 215), there was a noticeable difference, according to long-time camp observers. And Wilson acknowledged that he followed through on his pledge to have the best offseason of his life.

Whatever the methods, it’s working, And not just for Wilson, given the team’s rebound from a 1-5 start. Denver’s 32nd-ranked defense has settled down since the early-season debacle at Miami (70 points and 726 yards allowed). The special teams have had significant impact that includes rookie returner Marvin Mims.

The next steps for the offense, Wilson said, should begin with discipline that reduces penalties.

“This game is hard to play when it’s third-and-15, third-and-17, against really good pass-rushers and everything else,” Wilson said. “I think the best thing we can do is stay on schedule. When we stay on schedule, we give ourselves a great chance.”

 A sentiment that surely applies to the big picture, too.

A better point of view?

Maybe this is a sudden trend in the copycat NFL. A week after Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator/play-caller Matt Canada came out of the booth upstairs and worked from the sidelines – and voila, his unit scored a touchdown on its first possession for the first time this season – San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks made a similar switch.

Wilks called plays from the sidelines last Sunday at Jacksonville and his unit responded with a barrage of big plays – four takeaways, five sacks – as the 49es snapped a three-game losing streak with a 34-3 romp of the Jaguars.

His presence on the sideline made that much of a difference?

“Believe me, that wasn’t nowhere near the reason why,” Wilks reflected on Thursday. “We’ve got good players and me being on the sideline had nothing to do with it.”

Still, it’s tough to argue with the results. And it’s a given that Wilks will be back at field level when the 49ers host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.

Wilks said he enjoyed the interaction with the players during the game.

“It was good to be able to look in their eyes and communicate and create some clarity in my thoughts moving to the next series,” he said.

San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan, who worked from the sideline in eight of nine seasons as a play-caller before becoming a head coach, said the field-level positioning “is one of the most overrated things in the world.”

Maybe so. But after the big win at Jacksonville, at least Shanahan didn’t have any reason to call out Wilks for questionable strategy, as was the case in Week 7 when a “zero blitz” call backfired just before halftime in Minnesota.

Quick slants

Move over, Tyreek Hill and A.J. Brown. For all the record-breaking and record-threatening numbers put up by the star receivers for Miami and Philadelphia, respectively, Dallas Cowboys receiver CeeDee Lamb heads into the game at Carolina with a chance to become the first player in NFL history with four consecutive games of at least 150 receiving yards. The output of Lamb and Dak Prescott – seeking his fourth consecutive 300-yard game – reflects well on Mike McCarthy’s decision to take over the play-calling duties from the departed Kellen Moore. For now. The more defining tests are yet to come….Another measure of the mess that is Buffalo’s quarterback: In losses against the Jets, Patriots and Broncos, Josh Allen has committed nine turnovers.

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