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Matthew Morris Matthew Morris BVM Sports Journalist

Mark Schlereth: Broncos have ‘acquiesced’ to Russell Wilson

DENVER (BVM) – Mark Schlereth was on a recent episode of BVM Sports’ “Simple Question” to talk about his former team: the Denver Broncos. Last Sunday, Denver suffered its eighth loss of the season in Carolina against the Panthers 23-10. The three-time Super Bowl champion had more than a few things to say. 

“You look at the offense they ran last week in Carolina, it looks nothing like that,” Schlereth said about the difference in the offense Denver ran against the Panthers compared to the one it ran week one against the Seattle Seahawks. “It just looks nothing like what we saw week one when they actually had some structure to their offense.” 

The week one loss to Seattle was Russell Wilson’s highest QBR (52.1) and the most passing yards (340) he has had in a game all season. Two goal line fumbles robbed Denver of some great scoring opportunities and since that game, the Broncos’ offense has struggled to score, only surpassing 20 points twice.

Mark Schlereth Denver Broncos Russell Wilson
Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson (3) drops back to pass against the Carolina Panthers during the second half. (Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports)

There have been injuries on the offensive side of the ball, losing both wide receiver Tim Patrick and running back Javonte Williams for the season. However, for a team that at the very least had playoff aspirations and has a playoff caliber defense, the season has been a disaster. 

Denver’s offensive struggles and the changes to how the offense is being run appear to be due to Wilson having a large say in what happens on the offensive side of the ball. 

“My thought process is everyone in that organization has acquiesced to the quarterback,” Schlereth said. “The head coach is no longer calling plays. That offense doesn’t look anything like it did in the beginning of the season and that’s what they wanted to be, like a true west coast offense.” 

The change has not helped the Broncos at all. Carolina did not respect the Denver offense at all, daring Wilson and the Broncos to beat them in press man coverage. 

“We’ve won three freaking games and we have zero respect for you,” Schlereth said of what Carolina’s game plan suggested it thought about the Denver offense. “That’s embarrassing.” 

It has become a problem on multiple fronts. Aside from the team’s struggles, according to NFL Insider Tom Pelissero, Wilson has lost some of the Denver locker room but head Nathaniel Hackett has not. The report came after Broncos defensive tackle Mike Purcell was seen yelling at Wilson on the sidelines during the Carolina game. 

Unfortunately, that doesn’t change the fact that Hackett is likely on the hot seat in his first year as the Broncos head coach. 

“At some point the coach has got to be the coach and the player has got to be the player and to me, it just feels like that’s not the case here,” Schlereth said.

The buck stops with Hackett since he is the head coach. However, it does appear that the organization has, as Schlereth believes, acquiesced to Wilson and not empowered Hackett. When that happens, it’s an uphill battle for any coach, especially one that is in his first year of his first ever head coaching job. 

“Every part of this organization has acquiesced to No. 3,” Schlereth said. “If you haven’t been empowered to coach your team…when those things happen you as a player look at it like, well, that dude’s not in charge anyhow…it’s a problem.” 

Wilson signed a $245 million contract extension with the Broncos that has him with the team through 2028. The earliest Denver could reasonably try to move on from Wilson would come in 2026 and it would still cost them $31 million in dead cap.