DROP THE MIKE

Sean Payton is a home run hire to be the Broncos next head coach

Feb 1, 2023, 6:38 AM

I am pumped with the news the Broncos are hiring Sean Payton. Payton was my No. 1 choice when this whole coaching odyssey began. I was mostly amused, but sometimes annoyed, by the criticisms and anti-Payton arguments that were tossed around. So let me debunk the myths surrounding this hiring.

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His record is overrated

Did I enter a parallel universe? I’m in the right place, right? The one where the Broncos have gone 44-70 over the last seven years with zero playoff appearances? Payton coached the Saints for 15 years. He had nine seasons of 10-plus wins. He won a Super Bowl and went to another one. His offenses were ranked in the top five in points nine times. All this and you’re telling me after what you’ve watched over the last seven seasons this somehow isn’t good enough for you? What exactly would make you happy?

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He rode Drew Brees’ coattails

I’ll overlook the fact that many Broncos fans would’ve been delirious if Mike Shanahan came out of retirement to coach his old team. Fair to say The Mastermind may have ridden John Elway’s coattails? Lets get a few facts straight about Brees. He was a good (not great) QB with the Chargers. His last year with the Bolts was 2005. The Chargers thought so much of Brees they drafted Eli Manning and then traded him for Philip Rivers in a swap of first round, top-10 QBs in 2004. So Rivers was a teammate of Brees for two years. There was no evidence Brees was a HOF QB in waiting. Brees became a hall of fame quarterback under the tutelage of Payton.

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He bailed on the Saints

…and left them in salary cap hell. Payton was there 15 years. That’s a heck of a run. I would think he had earned the right to leave for another challenge. I’m sure many of us might be looking for another challenge after 15 years at one job. Besides, he could’ve bailed during or after a three-year span between 2014-16 when the Saints went 7-9, 7-9 and 7-9. Instead, he sucked it up and stuck it out and proceeded to win 11,13,13 and 12 games the next four years. He doesn’t have to explain his loyalty to the Saints to anyone.

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He’s got too much ego and power

Having all that power in New Orleans didn’t seem to affect him or the team too much. He averaged 10 wins per season over the 15 years he coached there. I don’t know Sean Payton, but I trust the opinions of guys like Mark Schlereth and Joel Klatt who have seen Payton work and interact with players and staff behind the scenes, and they rave about his ability to lead and force people to be accountable while also showing a deft touch when it comes to interacting with and truly caring about the people he works with and the players he coaches. That’s good enough for me.

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The Broncos gave up too much to get him

This is the one that annoys me. Thanks to ESPN and the NFL, the draft has become a monster. It has been built up in importance to levels that I believe are overrated. At its core, it remains a 50/50 crapshoot. Draft picks matter but they aren’t that important. Not when you can use them to get a proven coach with a proven track record. The Broncos are giving up a first-round pick they didn’t even have at the beginning of November. C’mon, if I had said you can trade Bradley Chubb and a future second-round pick for Sean Payton, who would’ve turned that down? Okay, so the Broncos don’t have a first-round pick, but they have Payton. I guess you could have a first-round pick with a coach like Vance Joseph (Garett Bolles and Bradley Chubb) or Vic Fangio (Noah Fant and Jerry Jeudy). Having those picks didn’t really matter when the coach was a disaster, right?

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I urge Broncos Country to take the long view here. If Payton is as successful as I believe he’ll be, he’s going to be here a long time, winning a lot of football games, establishing a culture and making everyone quickly forget what it took to get him.

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