Denver hired Shawn Payton to build a culture, not adapt to it. This meant changes for Russell Wilson and the Broncos.


Three first-round draft picks. Two second-round picks. Two solid NFL rookies (Shelby Harris and Noah Fant), and two contracts drawn up by lawyers. This is the reward it offers Denver Broncos paid for Russell Wilson so is it Newly assumed job resuscitator, Sean Payton.

This represents a losing hand and a double to make up for the losses. Broncos fans should prepare for the white knuckles that come with it.

This is not to conjure up a dark cloud over Denver’s trade for Peyton on Tuesday. It was the best available move made under the less than ideal conditions that required a quarterback. Whether or not Payton was Denver’s first choice belongs in the history books. We’ll probably never really know. All that matters now is that he’s in place and the list of priorities ahead of him is crystal clear: at least for the next three seasons of Wilson’s $242 million contract extension, Payton has to do everything he can to get his (reboot/reprogram/recalibrate) status back. as viable power competitor. In a more subtle sense, Payton has to show the efficiency that helped him mold a pass-heavy offense early in Drew Brees’ career into a more balanced supplemental scheme as Brees progresses out of the league.

Can Peyton do that for Wilson? Definitely. Should there be a reality check about what that means? at all.

DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 20: Coach Nathaniel Hackett of the Denver Broncos speaks with Russell Wilson #3 of the Denver Broncos in the first quarter of the game against the Las Vegas Raiders at Empower Field at Mile High on November 20, 2022 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

The Russell Wilson-Nathaniel Hackett duo did not last a full season. It’s up to Sean Payton to improve the QB coach partnership. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

This will be difficult. This wouldn’t be as simple as turning a switch and expecting everything to turn around overnight. The upside here is that Payton is no Nathaniel Hackett, so he knows what needs to be done to be successful. The downside is that Sean Payton isn’t the Nathaniel Hackett he actually is ready To do whatever it takes in the current roster and organization to make it work.

This means that it will be built and run in its image. And none of us know what that might entail.

If it taught 2022 Broncos fans anything, it’s that expecting big results and seeing them come to fruition is not guaranteed. Five months ago, Denver’s future was hotter than the surface of the sun. Then the regular season started and the sun came out, swallowing the entire season with it. Broncos Country and Wilson rode together off a cliff. It was an ill-fated trip that was blamed largely (and rightly) on the failures of Hackett, who never seemed to have the bandwidth required to be an NFL head coach. Payton has that in spades. This still does not guarantee that this will work.

Every head coach in a franchise comes with a wide variety of ideologies. This ranges from how the front office works and talent acquisition, to what kind of traits the talent should display on a daily basis, to opinions on communication, list building, co-ownership… The “language learning” aspects of this can be encyclopedic. This is no mean feat, especially when it comes to a head coach who has achieved long-standing success on a previous station. This experience tends to make them stubborn about what works and what doesn’t. This is why cultural upheaval often destroys franchises that exchange new coaches every few years. The repercussions are often profound and impulsive in personnel changes. Watch Denver’s recent history. no chance – zero – This is not an adjustment under Payton, who is hired to build the culture he knows and not adapt to the culture he inherited.

Denver’s roster will change. While this happens every season, the hiring of elite coaches usually results in significant changes within the depth charts in the offseason between year one and two. Coaches like Payton know what kind of players they want as leaders. They know what to expect in different skills. They have demands when it comes to attitude, effort, and other intangible things. The result is the change within the depth chart. Major players are losing luck. Draft picks from pre-existing years don’t have the same level of commitment. Suddenly, former free agent signings don’t fit in with the changing landscape design. There will be a turnover. And it will create a revealing dynamic about how Payton and General Manager George Button (and the Button staff) work together.

There will be scheme changes, game rule changes, practice changes – the whole way players learn is now under review. Hackett was praised for having a fun style that was entertaining and connected with his players on a personal level. Payton’s can be fun, but it’s also very expectations-driven and results-oriented when it comes to applause. Players will pay. He will quarrel with them. He will bury them on the bench. And when it comes time for criticism about who makes the cut and who doesn’t, he won’t always be shy about being honest in his assessments with the media.

Sean Payton has the big task of trying to revive the greatness of Russell Wilson and turn the Broncos into a Super Bowl contender.  (Photo by Cooper Neal/Getty Images)

Sean Payton has the big task of trying to revive the greatness of Russell Wilson and turn the Broncos into a Super Bowl contender. (Photo by Cooper Neal/Getty Images)

This would be an important point for Wilson. Whichever way he plays, extending his $242 million contract will be a financial hurdle to negotiate. There’s no realistic exit until after the 2025 season. That means that when it comes to the Super Bowl window – if one can be achieved in the next three seasons – the Broncos are working with a quarterback who’s charging hugely for his salary. This will not be Los Angeles Rams In 2021 b Matthew Stafford. it will not be Philadelphia Eagles In 2017 with Nick Falls On hold and reserve Carson Wentz A newbie deal. There is no business flexibility when it comes to hitting Wilson’s salary cap. So he will either fulfill it and carry the team the way it was projected before 2022, or the law firm will task Payton and Patton with rebuilding a team and a scheme that covers Wilson’s shortcomings long enough to get him out of the world. franchise.

Perhaps the return of a string of injured players in Denver will help smooth that process in 2023. Perhaps Payton’s rebuilding of everything under the hood will help restore Wilson’s Hall of Fame momentum. Or maybe all suggestive possession out of Seattle Seahawks Turns out it was founded in a reality that was hidden beyond Wilson’s trade with the Broncos. Perhaps he really is in irreparable decline and this is all much worse than the Hackett problem.

The answers to those mysteries are forthcoming. Payton’s hiring confirms this a lot. One way or another, something about this franchise and whatever went wrong in 2022 is going to change. But to think this will be an easy process is another mistake. And the Broncos were supposed to learn their lessons about that over the past five months.


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