BRONCOS

Sean Payton details plan for fixing Russell Wilson in interview

Sep 1, 2023, 3:41 AM

How will Russell Wilson do this year?

Statistical projections propagate through the digital- and social-media spaces. Everyone has a projection. And while Broncos coach Sean Payton doesn’t have a forecast, he does have a general idea.

And it’s not like last year.

“I would say this: He’s going to be a lot closer to those 2021 numbers than the 2022 numbers, just because I’m seeing it,” Payton told NBC Sports’ Peter King on his podcast.

King recorded the interview with Payton on Aug. 25, one day after joint practices with the Rams concluded. And Payton was effusive in his praise for the quarterback he inherited this year.

“Now, we play in a tough division and there’s going to be tough weeks and all sorts of hurdles,” Payton added. “But I understand the question and honestly, I like what I’m seeing a lot and I would say, even, I’ve been pleasantly surprised — like wow, the arm talent in the throws down the field. He’s always thrown a really good deep ball.”

SEAN PAYTON: “I CAN’T TELL YOU IT WASN’T BROKEN” FOR RUSSELL WILSON IN 2022

While Sean Payton reiterated his contrition about his comments regarding former head coach Nathaniel Hackett, he did acknowledge there were other issues beyond Wilson that led to the quarterback’s career-worst season.

“Look, I can’t tell you it wasn’t broken,” Payton told King. “But there were so many things that went into that. And I think the first thing we felt we needed to do was really overhaul and look at the offensive line. And we went out and spent money on (Ben) Powers and (Mike) McGlinchey and we got a young right guard we like (Quinn Meinerz), a center from LSU (Lloyd Cushenberry), the left tackle who’s who’s playing well (Garett Bolles). That position group permeates your building.

“And so, the two greatest allies for good quarterback play are running game and good defense. If you have trouble running the ball and stopping people, that player’s going to be up on the high dive quite a bit.”

That player — Wilson — needs a little help.

But Payton believes that the Wilson of the moment is — physically — the same as he was during his final two seasons in Seattle. However, the perception of a collapse defined the narrative, Payton added.

“And so, I don’t see any physical limitation that’s different from ’20 or even ’21. I see that player,” Payton told King. “And so, not rehashing last season — because clearly, it was different, all of us saw it and it was like it was almost like the weekly update. And I get it, you know, because, look, you and I both know what sells. It’s the fantastic stories, or the ‘Holy cow, what’s going on?’ Everything else in the middle doesn’t do it.”

But the middle ground might be where Wilson lands. But Payton still likes the quarterback’s progress — and his condition.

“Now, we play in a tough division and there’s going to be tough weeks and all sorts of hurdles. But … honestly, I like what I’m seeing a lot and I would say, even, I’ve been pleasantly surprised — like wow, the arm talent in the throws down the field,” Payton said to King.

“He’s always thrown a really good deep ball. But I do think he’s moving a lot better. Peter, I think his weight last year was 10 to 15 pounds heavier and it wasn’t what you were were accustomed accustomed to seeing.”

And then there is the motivation of a quarterback trying to overcome his worst sseason.

“There’s something powerful about a guy with a chip on his shoulder. And I experienced that with my last quarterback when when he injured his shoulder (Drew Brees). He got released from the Chargers. There were two teams really that had interest. One kind of had interest and then we were the one saying, ‘Hey, we’re all in,’ and I think I think that’s a pretty significant motivating factor, and I take that very seriously for him meaning, ‘Hey, let’s go. Let’s go do the things that you do well regularly, and in let’s win.’

“Ultimately, it’s about winning.”

And Payton believes Wilson can do just that.

“And so, Teddy Bridgewater, he finished 22 of 31 and we won by 21 to 18 or whatever in two weeks. It was just a win. And that’s how that’s how we’re all ultimately measured. And I know [Wilson] is a winner.”

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