Bolles said after Thursday’s OTA practice that critics of Wilson’s 2022 season and those who believe Wilson won’t recapture his past level of play are going to “eat crow” after the coming season.
“He’s a great dude, he’s the same guy every single day, he works his butt off,” Bolles said. “And I’m ready for that stuff to go away and when it goes, everyone’s going to eat crow.”
The Broncos traded five draft picks, including two first- and two second rounders, as well as three players to the Seattle Seahawks last March to acquire Wilson. The team also signed Wilson to a $245 million contract extension just before the season began.
But it was mostly downhill from there as the Broncos finished last in the league in scoring (16.9 points per game), head coach Nathaniel Hackett was fired with two games left in the season and Wilson finished with a career-low 16 touchdown passes to go with a career-most 55 sacks.
Along the way, as the Broncos’ losses mounted, Wilson took plenty of criticism on a variety of fronts, everything from saying he did “high knees” on the flight to London, to his office in the Broncos’ complex to how many teammates attended his birthday party. All combined with consistent sluggishness in the team’s mismatched, underperforming offense.
Wilson said early in these OTAs his goal was to have “the best offseason of my life” as he showed up much lighter and leaner than last season. Coach Sean Payton, hired in February, has praised Wilson’s work in the offseason so far.
“I think he’s phenomenal,” Bolles said Thursday. “… We knew who he was as a person, we know who is … I love him dearly. I think he’s one of the greatest quarterbacks in the game the last 10 years. Stats don’t lie, just because you have one rough season in the last 10 years you can’t dictate what type of guy, his personality, what he goes through … I was angry [last season] with what came out … I take it very personal.”
Bolles, who spent the last 13 weeks of the season on injured reserve with a fractured lower right leg, was consistently one of Wilson’s most stringent locker room advocates last season. He kept that same momentum Thursday when asked about Wilson’s ability to rebound from last season and his adaptability with the new coaching staff.
“He’s the same guy, he doesn’t change, he’s a leader,” Bolles said. “… He’s one of the winningest quarterbacks [the] last 10 years, you guys know the stats, that’s just who he is … Random rumors and things like that and the fire burns. It’s like a forest fire, you start in one corner and the wind blows and it just burns thousands and thousands of acres and that’s sort of what happened.
“[But] He’s not focused on that, he just wants to win,” Bolles said.
Garett Bolles – Russell Wilson critics to ‘eat crow’ in 2023