Hall Of Fame QB Warren Moon: This Is What Russell Wilson Always Wanted

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Warren Moon took issue with the notion that coaching is the problem for Denver quarterback Russell Wilson.

“Everybody wants to blame the coach,” Moon said, referring to first-year head coach Nathaniel Hackett. “But this is what Russell wanted. He wanted to be a pocket quarterback. That’s what he has always wanted.”

Former NFL quarterback Warren Moon and Broncos QB Russell Wilson. (Getty Images)

Moon, the first black quarterback to be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, knows Wilson well from their days together in Seattle. Wilson was drafted in the third round in 2012. Moon was a radio analyst for the Seahawks at the time and until 2017. Early on, Moon was considered a mentor to Wilson.

Russell Wilson Has Stubborn Desire To Be Pocket Passer

While Moon said he has tremendous respect for Wilson’s ability, he believes that Wilson’s stubborn desire to be primarily pocket passer instead of a quarterback who moves around has been the issue this season. Wilson was traded to Denver in the offseason after making the Pro Bowl in nine of his first 10 years.

The move was considered a blockbuster for Denver, giving it a quarterback that could take it back to the playoffs. Instead, the Broncos are 3-8 and Wilson is having the worst season of his career with a rating of 83.5, nearly 20 points below his career average. Wilson is also on his way to a career-low in TD passes. He has eight in 11 games this season.


The Broncos are also last in scoring with 166 points in 12 games, on the way to the worst offensive performance in team history. The 1966 Broncos scored 196 points in 14 games, an average of 14 points a game.

Even as Wilson helped Seattle win a Super Bowl and appear in another, Moon said there were growing issues between him and the team about exactly how to use him. The Seahawks wanted to continue to have Wilson work on the edges of the defense on a regular basis by using rollouts, play-action, and bootlegs.

‘He Can’t Do That. He’s Too Short’

“(Seattle) wanted to have him in the pocket about 60 percent of the time and then move him around the rest,” Moon said. “All that stuff about, ‘Let Russ cook’ is really him talking about wanting to be in the pocket all the time. He can’t do that. He’s too short. You have to get him out in space a lot of the time to he can see everything.”

Moon said the 5-foot-10 Wilson often talked about how former New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees was one of his favorite quarterbacks. Like Wilson, the 6-foot Brees is on the shorter end of the quarterback spectrum. Still, Brees was an inch and a half taller than Wilson and played every dropback pass on his tippy toes.

“Saints also did a really good job of getting guards and a center who were good and could keep the pocket clean when (Brees) stepped up to throw. Seattle used Russell on read-option plays much of the time to keep Wilson moving aound.

“You have to get Russ moving around so that he can get out into space so he can see things better. You know from watching, He’s not going to be able to see the middle of the field. When you watch him throw deep, it’s rarely deep down the middle. He also doesn’t see it very well and now that he doesn’t move as well as he used to, he doesn’t like going.”

Written by Jason Cole

Jason Cole has covered or written about pro football since 1992. He is one of 49 selectors for the Pro Football Hall of Fame and has served as a selector since 2013. Cole has worked for publications such as Bleacher Report, Yahoo! Sports, The Miami Herald, the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, and started his career with the Peninsula Times-Tribune in Palo Alto. Cole’s five-year investigation of Reggie Bush and the University of Southern California resulted in Bush becoming the only player to ever relinquish his Heisman Trophy and USC losing its 2004 national championship.

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