When the Broncos introduced quarterback Russell Wilson in March, G.M. George Paton said of Wilson, among other things, “he’s a winner.” That’s a term that sets some people off, given the lingering debate over whether wins are relevant to the assessment of quarterbacks.
Paton visited #PFTPM this week. I asked him to explain his position on the connection between quarterbacks and winning, specifically as it relates to the acquisition of Russell Wilson.
“I just think you look at the teams that have won,” Paton said. “And what’s the common trait? Typically, it’s a quarterback. And then you look at Russ’s record. Over the first 10 years he’s won more games than any quarterback I believe in history. That’s a pretty good record of winning. . . . He’s a winner. The proof is in the pudding. Look at his record. He wins games. Now, they had a lot of good players around him, I get it. And we’re gonna need a lot of good players around him. And hopefully we have enough around him where we can take that next step.”
The reality is that some quarterbacks get more from the players around him. From everyone around him.
“There’s something different,” Paton said. “I experienced that for one year, two years actually, when we got [Brett] Favre in Minnesota. I remember that first practice. Really, you knew it. It elevated everyone. And it didn’t just elevate the players. It elevated the people in the building, the work ethic, the accountability. We feel that here with Russ.”
The fact that Paton didn’t experience that same feeling with the arrival of Kirk Cousins in 2018 is relevant to this conversation as well. Cousins is not a winner, at least not consistently and not in big games. And Paton, who was with the Vikings when Cousins arrived, apparently didn’t experience the same feeling when Cousins had his first practice in Minnesota.
This is one of those places where the effort to turn everything about football into a mathematical formula needs to acknowledge the simple human reality that certain personalities can get more from their teammates than others can, whether through words or actions or just merely walking through the door. Anyone who has played football at any level knows that certain people can get players to perform better than they otherwise would perform. The Broncos are banking on Wilson bringing that with him to Denver — like Peyton Manning did a decade ago.