Sean Payton vows to do what Russell Wilson does well

Denver Broncos Introduce Sean Payton as Head Coach
Getty Images

The jury remains out on whether the difficult 2022 season for Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson happened because Wilson lost his fastball at 33 into 34, or whether former head coach Nathaniel Hackett failed to properly utilize Wilson’s talents.

That question will be conclusively resolved in 2023, because new coach Sean Payton isn’t going to do anything that Wilson can’t do well.

“It wasn’t the type of season he wanted to have,” Payton said Monday when describing Wilson’s 2022 campaign, via the transcript of the introductory press conference provided by the team. “I feel like the last couple of weeks, we saw a little bit more of maybe what we were expecting or accustomed to. I say, ‘We,’ [meaning] you all when you signed them. I think the No. 1 job for us as coaches in evaluating our players [is deciding] what are the things that they do really well? Then, let’s try to put them in those positions. At least that’s the starting point, and I think that it is important to highlight their strengths and minimize maybe any weaknesses.”

It’s basic and it’s simple. But, still, many coaches don’t do it. They are beholden to their systems over their players. They try to jam a square peg into a round role, instead of adapting the offense to the unique abilities and limitations of the players who will be executing the plays.

Also, read that quote again. Near the top. Tucked into Payton’s response is a strong clue that, once Hackett was fired with two games left, interim coach Jerry Rosburg started to bring out some of what Wilson does best. And that’s exactly what Payton will be doing.

“Here’s what I know,” Payton added regarding Wilson. “I know that he’s a hard worker. I know he’s an extremely hard worker, and that’s important. You take that and you understand the skill set. He’s won a lot of games in Seattle. . . . Then you go from there. That’s the same case — although it’s a much more visible position, it’s the same case and the same goal for us with every player on this roster. What do they do well? It’s easy to point out what players don’t do well, and there are certain coaches that tend to look at it that way. I kind of was taught early on, ‘Hey, what is it they do well? Let’s have them do those things.’ None of us want to go — I don’t like singing, period, but none of us want to be at a karaoke bar with a song we don’t know the words to. How do we how do we get them comfortable and highlight their strengths? That’s the process that’s going to begin right now. I’m learning about every one of these players, not just Russell.”

That’s consistent with things Payton said back in October, when asked about how he’d improve Wilson after a rough start to the season.

“I’d want a cut up of all Russell’s pass plays of 30 or more yards from the field, and I’d want to see are there some schemes that he felt very comfortable with,” Payton said at the time. “Like, I know that they did a great job in Seattle of bringing him off of a naked boot[leg] and then pulling up and we all saw that like throw back to [receiver Tyler] Lockett across the field where the ball traveled 60 yards in the air. Then, I’d want to look at another film of his red-zone touchdown passes inside the 20. And so what I’m asking for from assistants, I’m asking for some of his greatest hits and to make sure we have those song lyrics available. And if not, let’s put them in.”

It’s hard to know much about what specifically will happen with the Broncos in 2023. But one thing is clear. A year after being required to figure out the words to Smells Like Teen Spirit on the fly, Wilson will be resorting to the  football versions, for him, of Happy Birthday and Row, Row, Row Your Boat.

62 responses to “Sean Payton vows to do what Russell Wilson does well

  1. Well unless he vows to implement another bounty system, this team isn’t going anywhere.

  2. So he’s going to act entitled, quietly pout and pretend there’s nothing wrong? Because RW does that very well.

  3. Well, then I guess Denver fans are in for a VERY DISAPPOINTING season, as Russell does nothing well anymore!!!!

  4. So the new head coach wants to show up late, and leave early, and then pout when the they play poorly? Gonna be a long year Denver fans

  5. Wasn’t the issue in Seattle that Wilson’s perception of what he was good at different than what Pete Carroll thought his strengths were? If Wilson and Payton aren’t on the same page about that, it will be the same thing. Neither will be happy or effective.

  6. Payton is talking sense.
    We’ll see next season whether Wilson is truly a busted flush or not

  7. Nobody really knows the future…but both Payton and Wilson have had success in the past…Drew Brees also had success and was a short quarterback…Bronco fans should be optimistic….

  8. That’s consistent with things Payton said back in October, when asked about how he’d improve Wilson after a rough start to the season.


    That’s when I knew this was the job he was taking. Former coaches don’t criticize other coaching staffs that specifically, but he did.

  9. I think Jerruh is hearing Sean Payton talk about singing at karaoke bars and thinking, Durn it! I knew I should’ve went after him.

  10. I have to think the biggest obstacle is Russell Wilson winning over that locker room. Good start keeping his personal performance team out of there, but Wilson hasn’t really said much publicly to make you think he realizes he’s the problem.

  11. Wilson played very well that final game of the season and trended upwards in every game after Hackett was fired. Easy to imagine Wilson rebounding while the Jets discover the hard way that Hackett simply cannot call plays.

  12. Let’s be real. Wilson put himself above the team and nobody wanted to play with him or for him. Good luck fixing that. Payton can crack down but he can’t make Wilson behave like one of the guys. Mahomes, Burrow and Allen are all great teammates and don’t see themselves as above anyone else on the team. That’s part of what it takes to be great. They are already compensated financially at a level that makes them special. No need to act like a tool in the locker room.

  13. If Payton can just get Wilson marginally better and run the ball well the Broncos will be much better next year. They lost a lot of close games and the defense is quite good.

  14. flavofaze says:
    February 7, 2023 at 9:45 am
    Nobody really knows the future…but both Payton and Wilson have had success in the past…Drew Brees also had success and was a short quarterback…Bronco fans should be optimistic….


    Brees was an incredible leader and teammate. When have we ever heard one bad thing said about him by anyone. Very different situation Wilson.

    If a receiver has an attitude like Wilson, maybe the coach and QB can placate them and get the most out of them, but a QB has to be the guy people want to play for. The OL can’t get joy out of letting pass rushers hit him.

  15. “Plays, formations, plays.” Good coaches and analysts use that phrase all the time. It starts with the players and what they’re good at. Wilson last two games last year showed that he wasn’t completely cooked, that he still has some strengths Peyton can use. And if a chunk of his ego leaves the building along with Russ’s support staff, there’s no reason Denver can’t be a winning team this year.

  16. Payton just being in the facility is already an improvement. You couldn’t do much worse for a HC than Nathaniel Hackett.

  17. I’ve always liked Sean Payton but as a Chiefs fan I’m wishing him only marginal success. That said, he’s a great coach. If Payton can’t fix Russ, then Russ can’t be fixed.

  18. Payton has already made comments that has “Team 3” bouncing all over the walls in anger. Get ready for a drama filled season in Denver.

  19. I think it is very powerful that a coach says, “I’m going to identify what my player does best and help him do more of it.” It makes so much sense. It strikes me that the most successful coaches do that. I feel like they also are able to clearly communicate what they want their players to do.

    I’ve seen way too many years of my own team (Browns) just seemingly do the opposite.

    Will be interesting to see how this plays out.

  20. O.K. ! High knee airplane workouts(“4 hrs.’) when everyone is trying to rest.Then a totally uncool Taco Bell Chalupa commercial .Did somebody say uncool ? I think Sean and Russell will get along just great.

  21. kcsam76 says:
    February 7, 2023 at 9:11 am

    Seattle and New Orleans fleeced the Donks. Let’s ride!


    Not even close to how bad the Bears and Packers fleeced your Raiders.

  22. “what Russell wilson does well” ….would that be turning the entire organization into a giant soap opera…..sit Russell down and remind him he is a football player not a diva orchestrator of everything Broncos.

  23. “Sean Payton vows to do what Russell Wilson does well”

    So Payton will become a shameless self-promoter?

  24. Payton will be exposed for what he is…a mediocre coach who lucked into an HOF QB and still had to cheat to win big.

  25. For those that think that Sean Payton is some great coach…….he has a record similar to Mike McCarthy, with fewer trips to the post season.

  26. Last I checked, the things that russell does well, self-promotion and branding aren’t skills that help you win football games.

    Russ is losing some of his athleticism as he’s getting older and that affecting other parts of his game. His decision making was just awful as well, I don’t know how you fix that at age 35.

  27. What did Russ do well in our so-called “one year dynasty”… One of the things we all love about football is that it’s a team sport. In Seattle Russell always had a terrific sideline receiver (Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett). Seattle had a physical slot receiver in Golden Tate that got YAC in tough situations. And Russ benefited most greatly from the unstoppable power that was Beast Mode, Marshawn Lynch running over guys and keeping defenses honest. In addition to that, the 2013 Seattle defense was playing, by their own words, career football (they all had career years statistically speaking). So, even at Russell’s best, he had a supporting cast that this current Denver roster just does not have. Jerry Jeudy is good, but outside of the KC game last year, there doesn’t appear to be a good rapport happening between QB and wideout. They picked up Freddy Swain from Seattle, so that helped at the end of the season. Russ NEEDS someone like Lockett or Baldwin on the sidelines. Lockett especially was better than anyone at working with Russ on broken plays to make something out of nothing.

  28. andreboy1 says:
    February 7, 2023 at 10:23 am
    If Payton can just get Wilson marginally better and run the ball well the Broncos will be much better next year. They lost a lot of close games and the defense is quite good.
    And on the flip… all 5 of their wins were close games. Run the ball well? How about having one of the worst completion percentages in the NFL? How about not throwing to WR1 every time, regardless of if that receiver is in tight double coverage. Yeah, just run better!

  29. The problem is he is overweight and old so his skills and plays that were made on the fly or broken plays, are going to be less useful.

  30. Wilson received so much criticism last year I honestly felt bad. I hope he does well but man I do not like Sean Payton at all. Ideally, Wilson redeems himself and the broncos miss the playoffs again.

  31. What Russell Wilson does well: Exciting Chuck it underthrows fishing for DPI, usually down multiple scores (frequently)
    What Russell Wilson does not do well: Run legitimate modern NFL offense

    See also Kyler Murray

  32. Payton is a bright coach and it appears that Russell Wilson has been humbled. Maybe the Broncos can hit the button and start fresh.
    At the very least there should be significant improvement, but at this point it’s hard to say what Wilson’s potential is anymore.

  33. mogogo1 says:
    February 7, 2023 at 10:19 am

    Wilson played very well that final game of the season and trended upwards in every game after Hackett was fired.


    You don’t pay a veteran QB a lucrative contract to only figure out how to play well at the end of the season after the coach is fired and all the stakes are removed.

  34. Broncos are already better than the Raiders.

    Back to the cellar Raiders, hope you enjoyed being in third place again while it lasted.

  35. Another year wealthier, older, slower, heavier, set in his ways and oh yeah. Still short. Should be a recipe for the Super Bowl.

  36. this is going to be the world’s most expensive dumpster fire.
    even as a chiefs fan, im tuning in for bronco games…
    kc had already basically won 13 games next year already anyway

  37. No serious football expert would put Brees anywhere near the level of first ballot HOF QB Russell Wilson.

    With him, even a mediocre Payton has a chance to succeed.

    First they have to fix that leaky defense, the line, the receivers and the running game.

  38. One of the things that made Russ what he was in Seattle was his escapability when scrambling. We all hear he’s a hard worker, but what exactly does he work hard at doing? He’d better start working hard at losing 15 pounds or so. If he can do that, and if he works hard at speed & agility training, he can regain much of the escapability that frustrated defenses when he was a Seahawk.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.