The storylines are wild as Russell Wilson leads his new Denver Broncos squad into a Week 1 game against the quarterback’s former Seattle Seahawks team.
Wilson spent a decade in Seattle, leading the Hawks to two NFC Championships and a Super Bowl title in the process. He’s the single-greatest player in franchise history. However, some major issues between Russ and the Seahawks’ brass led to him being traded to the Broncos in a blockbuster this past spring.
It goes without saying that Wilson is one of the players to watch Monday night in Seattle. However, there’s several important cogs on both sides of the ball that you should pay attention to. Here, we look at five players to watch in the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks opening “Monday Night Football” game of the 2022 season.
Jerry Jeudy looking to get his footing for the Denver Broncos
A first-round pick of the Broncos back in 2020, Jeudy’s first two seasons have been met with mixed results. As a rookie, he caught a mere 46% of the passes thrown in his direction while putting up a huge 8.8% drop rate. Last season saw the former Alabama standout miss seven games to a high-ankle injury. Now with Wilson in the mix, the hope is that this electric wide receiver can finally make the impact that most initially expected.
“We all were a little frustrated, especially there at the end (of the season). We’re moving on, the room is fresh and optimistic. Jerry is healthy, whole new deal, whole new mindset, whole new season for everybody.”Denver Broncos wide receivers coach Zach Azzanni leading up to Week 1
Denver will need Jeudy to step up behind No. 1 receiver Courtland Sutton with 2021 breakout performer Tim Patrick lost for the season due to a torn ACL. The good news? He won’t be catching passes from Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Lock. Rather, he’ll be on the receiving end of bombs from a future first ballot Hall of Famer. That could make all the difference in the world.
Charles Cross thrown into the fire for the Seattle Seahawks
In their first post-Wilson regular-season game, the Seahawks are set to rely on two rookie offensive tackles. Interestingly enough, there’s more concern about left tackle Charles Cross than right tackle Abraham Lucas heading into this one. A former star at Mississippi State, Cross was the ninth pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. Lucas went 72nd overall in April’s draft. At issue here are struggles we saw from Cross during the preseason slate.
The youngster will be thrown into the fire protecting Geno Smith’s blindside from a combination of Randy Gregory and Bradley Chubb in this one. It’s not an ideal scenario for Seattle, one that could lead to an ugly offensive showing come Monday night.
Bradley Chubb must find a way to retun to form
Speaking of Chubb, he jumped on to the scene for the Broncos as a rookie after they made him the No. 5 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. The former North Carolina State star recorded 21 QB hits, 14 tackles for loss and 12 sacks en route to finishing third in the Defensive Rookie of the Year voting. Since then, it’s been completely downhill due to myriad injuries.
- Bradley Chubb stats (2019-21): 29 QB hits, 15 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks
Chubb 26, missed the final 12 games of his sophomore campaign after suffering a torn ACL. After earning a Pro Bowl appearance in 2020, he would sit out another 10 games last season due to an ankle injury. Now entering his fifth season in the NFL, Chubb has a new outlook on things.
Chubb has a pretty solid matchup come Week 1 against a makeshift Seattle Seahawks offensive line. The hope is that he can pair with high-priced free-agent signing Randy Gregory to provide Denver with an elite pass-rush tandem this season. It all starts Monday evening in the Pacific Northwest.
Short leash for Seattle Seahawks’ Geno Smith
A journeyman of four teams throughout his nine-year NFL career, Smith got the starting nod for Seattle ahead of Drew Lock. Sure the storylines would have been better if Lock were under center aganist his former team after being acquired in the Wilson blockbuster. But here we are. A career backup set to replace an all-time great on national television in front of a fan base that’s questioning the direction of the organization.
- Geno Smith stats (2013-21): 59% completion, 6,917 yards, 34 TD, 37 INT, 75.7 QB rating
This could potentially have disaster written all over it. Smith having to work behind a makeshift offensive line after accounting for nine passing touchdowns since the end of the 2014 season. He’ll have to do so against Mr. Wilson in a game that could go in a number of different directions. Let’s hope for entertainment purposes that Smith is up to the task.
All eyes on Denver Broncos QB Russell Wilson
How will Wilson be greeted by fans who spent the past decade rooting for him? Will the 12th Man throw boo-birds in the direction of the all-time great quarterback? How will Wilson respond once he’s on the field in an opposing uniform? There’s so many backstories to this “Monday Night Football” game.
“Hopefully, it’ll be positive. Listen, I gave my heart and soul every day. I know they’ll be rowdy. I know they’ll be excited,” Russell Wilson on what he expects from Seattle Seahawks fans Monday night.
Denver finds itself heavily backed heading into this game. But we just don’t know how Wilson is going to respond with 69,000 fans in Seattle rooting against him. There’s going to be some nerves involved. That’s for sure. How quickly the Super Bowl quarterback calms down could dictate the direction of this matchup.