Fewer pre-snap penalties mean Sean Payton is making an impact
Oct 23, 2023, 10:07 PM | Updated: Oct 24, 2023, 8:41 am
Tangible evidence of progress is essential if Sean Payton is to succeed with the Broncos. And while the win-loss ledger is the primary force, there are other ways that perhaps better show the growth the team needs.
Such as on pre-snap penalties — particularly false starts. They were a problem early in the season. They’re not anymore.
False-start penalties over the last three weeks by the Broncos — after the team committed five such infractions during the Week 4 win at Chicago. Mike McGlinchey’s false-start during Sunday’s 19-17 win over the Packers is the only one for the Broncos in the last three games.
The practice work paid dividends.
“That fine line between being good or not being good is important to study,” Payton said.
He noted a pair of teams — the 2014 Carolina Panthers and 2022 Detroit Lions — as teams that he cited to his teams as those whose growth helped ensure in-season turnarounds. That Carolina team capitalized off of a weak NFC South to sneak into the playoffs at 7-8-1, then won a wild-card game and went to Super Bowl 50 the following year. The ‘22 Lions surged from 1-6 to 9-8, missing the postseason on a tiebreaker; they’re 5-2 now, giving them an overall mark of 13-4 over their last 17 games.
So, what’s next?
“That’s where ours has to start,” Sean Payton said. “We were good [Sunday] with no giveaways, and we had the takeaway late in the game. The other stuff you can do really well, and yet if you give it away—we can come in and look at the red zone and third down stat lines.
“We can look at a lot of things that are positive, but if you give it away, it’s the one thing that can trump everything. Hopefully that can have the same type of effect as the pre-snap stuff when we preach these things, relative to what wins and loses.”
Indeed, the Broncos are 2-1 when they have a positive turnover margin this year — and 0-4 when they don’t.
Touchdown receptions by Courtland Sutton through seven games so far this season.
Not only is this tally one more than Sutton’s combined touchdown total of the previous three seasons — in which he played 33 games — but it is the highest touchdown-catch total for any Broncos receiver through seven games since 2014, when Julius Thomas had 9 touchdown receptions and the late Demaryius Thomas had 6.
With just one more touchdown reception, Sutton will match his career single-season high.
Times in the last five seasons in which the Broncos started a season 2-5. They opened with that mark through seven games in 2022 and 2019 as well — both of which were the first seasons for then-new head coaches Nathaniel Hackett and Vic Fangio.
It’s the 12th time in Broncos history that they’ve opened with a record of 2-5 or worse. Only once in the previous 11 did they rally to make the postseason — in 2011, when they turned a 2-5 start into an 8-8 finish, winning the AFC West in the process.