Franchise royalty, and former team executive, John Elway watched Russell Wilson and the Denver Broncos put together a miserable 2022 season, resulting in the firing of Nathaniel Hackett after 15 games. With 2022 now in the rearview mirror and Sean Payton in town, Elway feels the Broncos are ready to right the ship.
Talking to ABC 7 DenverElway expressed how Payton is ideal for the Broncos.
“I’m excited. It’s perfect for where we are right now, where the Broncos are right now,” Elway said. “Obviously, he’s got a lot of skin on the wall. He’s won a Super Bowl before and won a bunch of football games. I don’t think he could have been a better fit. I think he’s going to be great.”
“It’s going to take some time with a new system, new coaches, even though the spring was very good. The expectations are up there. But they have calmed the expectations compared to last year, which is good. We have to do it. better with injuries. I hope we can stay healthy.”
Elway also alluded to Payton’s “great feel” for coaching and developing quarterbacks as an asset to Wilson’s and Denver’s offense.
Denver acquired Payton, who took a year off from coaching after the 2021 NFL season and served as an NFL studio analyst for FOX Sports, and a 2024 third-round draft pick from New Orleans. Saints for the 29th pick in the 2023 NFL Draft and his 2024 second-round pick in February.
Through his 15 seasons with the Saints (2006-11, 2013-21), Payton went 152-89 (63.1% winning percentage) as a head coach, highlighted by winning Super Bowl XLIV. During his tenure in New Orleans, Payton coached quarterback Drew Brees, a probable first-ballot Hall of Famer.
Throughout his four seasons as quarterbacks coach/offensive coordinator with the New York Giants (1999-2002), Payton coached Kerry Collins, who helped the team reach Super Bowl XXXV. Payton was then the offensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys from 2003 to 2005, where he was part of a coaching staff that signed future four-time Pro Bowl quarterback Tony Romo as an undrafted free agent while also coaching Drew Bledsoe in 2005.
Denver is coming off a 5-12 season in which Wilson, a Super Bowl champion and nine-time Pro Bowler, put together arguably the worst season of his career.
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Wilson totaled just 3,524 passing yards, 16 passing touchdowns, 11 interceptions and an 84.4 passer rating while completing 60.5% of his passes in 2022. Passing touchdowns, passer rating and completion percentage were career lows for Wilson. Additionally, the Broncos ranked last in the NFL in points per game (16.9).
Denver acquired Wilson and a fourth-round draft pick from the Seattle Seahawks last offseason for two first-round and second-round players, a fourth-round tight end Noah Fant, defensive lineman Shelby Harris and quarterback Drew Lock. The organization then doubled down on Wilson by giving him a five-year, $245 million extension before the 2022 season.
The hope is that Payton is the right man to help revive Wilson’s career.
“Sean has a great sense of the quarterback position,” Elway said. “He’s got a lot of knowledge on the offensive end. I think he knows what Russell will do best. Like any good football team, we have to try to run the game and do it successfully. And if we do that, it gives Russell a much better chance of succeed in the passing game.
“[Wilson] he is such a positive guy. I think he’s excited about it. With what happened last year, a lot of different things, Sean brings a lot of experience. I think Russell is hoping that that coach puts him in the best position to be successful. … It was a tough year for him last year. But it is positive and hard. He’ll bounce back and I think he’ll have a much better year this year.”
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