Is He Really Danger(Russ) for the Vikings?

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports.

For Sunday Night, the NFL decided that the Minnesota Vikings and Denver Broncos remained worthy of a primetime matchup. Despite the early struggles for both teams, that seems to have been a good decision at this point. Is Russell Wilson still dangerous against a Brian Flores defense, though?

Is He Really Danger(Russ) for the Vikings?

A season ago, the Minnesota Vikings employed Ed Donatell as their defensive coordinator, and he presided over one of the worst defenses in football. Rather than overhauling the personnel as a whole, the Vikings found a coach with a substantially stronger track record and have watched Brian Flores raise the talent of everyone involved.

He Really Danger
Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

On Sunday night, against Russell Wilson and the Denver Broncos, Minnesota must keep a once formidable quarterback in check. Although offensive guru Sean Payton is now leading things in the Mile High City, Wilson hasn’t looked like the Seattle Seahawks star he once was for quite some time.

Despite a big win over the Buffalo Bills last week, which got offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey fired, Wilson has largely become a methodical quarterback doing everything to avoid mistakes. His yards per attempt are at the lowest point of his career, and with wideouts like Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy, he has essentially become a checkdown quarterback.

Through the first nine games in 2023, Wilson has a completion percentage just south of 68%. It is the second-highest mark of his career but broadly reflective of the passes he looks to make. At just over 200 yards per game, only in his rookie season has he accounted for less of the total offense for a team. He’s doing a good job avoiding interceptions, with just four on the season, but his 30 sacks tell the tale up front.

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Wilson has scrambled more in 2023, which keeps up his DangeRuss moniker. After rushing 55 times or less each of the past two years, he has already broken the pocket 40 times this season. With more than 25 rushing yards per game, he is at his highest output since 2020 and the second-highest total he has posted since rushing for more than 36 yards per game in 2017.

Thus far, the Vikings have seen a handful of mobile quarterbacks throughout their schedule, and employing Josh Dobbs as the starter gives them that consistent look in practice. Wilson is far from the player he was while quarterbacking the offense opposite the Legion of Boom, but he’s still plenty slippery and will have some tricks up his sleeve. It seems Sean Payton has always ratcheted things up a notch for the Vikings, and he certainly hasn’t forgotten a special touchdown that was scored against his Saints at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports.

Coming in as 2.5-point underdogs, the Vikings can continue to roll with a chip on their shoulder. Even with the Broncos playing more competent football and having a home-field advantage, this seems like it should be a pick ’em at best. If the Vikings are going to keep things rolling, they’ll need a total team effort, and one that includes a running game while forcing Wilson to beat them sounds like a decent blueprint.

The lights are brighter in primetime, and Wilson has been in plenty of big moments. This isn’t the same guy, though, and Minnesota can’t allow him to look like it.

Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.