Denver Broncos star Russell Wilson downplayed the significance to what appeared to be a testy moment with teammate Mike Purcell.
Wilson told reporters after a 23-10 defeat to the Carolina Panthers that he and Purcell are "on the same page" and that "there's no animosity there at all."
Troy Renck @TroyRenck
<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Broncos?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Broncos</a> Wilson on sideline exchange with Purcell. Said there is no issue between them <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Denver7?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Denver7</a> <a href="https://t.co/YWgcUMFWBK">pic.twitter.com/YWgcUMFWBK</a>
Purcell and the Broncos defense were coming off the field following a Panthers field goal when he approached Wilson and was very animated. Wilson explained it as the nose tackle saying the Broncos "gotta f'in go."
Purcell addressed the incident as well. He said he was generally frustrated and looking to motivate the offense with the team trailing 20-3.
Wilson's and Purcell's postgame comments offer a plausible narrative. Emotions can boil over when a team is on its way to losing its eighth game, and Purcell may simply have been trying to light a fire under Wilson and a sputtering offense.
For those watching, however, it was a moment that carried a larger significance.
Orlando Franklin @OFranklin74
That locker room is 100% divided, and now we could see it publicly That exchange between Purcell and Wilson will be all over social media and talked about for the next week. If you weren’t gonna fire Hackett before its pretty much impossible not to now after that. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BroncosCountry?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#BroncosCountry</a>
Trading for Wilson and handing him a five-year, $242.6 million extension might work out for Denver, but this year has been an unabashed flop so far.
Entering Sunday, the nine-time Pro Bowler was on pace to set career lows in completion percentage (59.5), passer rating (83.3) and QBR (32.6), per Pro Football Reference.
Because Wilson is misfiring so badly, the efforts of the defense are being wasted. The Broncos were allowing the third-fewest yards (302.1 per game) and second-fewest points (17.1 per game) through 10 games. Football Outsiders ranked them fifth in defensive efficiency.
And what does the defense have to show for all of that? A 3-8 record.
Blaming Wilson alone would be unfair, but he's supposed to be the franchise quarterback who lifts Denver over the top.
More than that, the 33-year-old might not be leading by example. Former offensive lineman Tyler Polumbus reported on Nov. 16 that Wilson wasn't always in agreement with head coach Nathaniel Hackett about the offense's philosophy and play-calling. Polumbus added the signal-caller is also "using audibles from the Seahawks" and "using codewords that guys don't know what the codewords are."
For better or worse, the Broncos are wedded to Wilson for the foreseeable future because of his massive contract. Right now, both sides are probably wishing they could fast-forward to the offseason and start fresh.