CBS NFL announcer: For Sean Payton and Broncos, ‘the best is yet to come’

Feb 13, 2024, 2:11 AM | Updated: 2:18 am

LAS VEGAS — The first season of Sean Payton as Broncos head coach saw its highs and lows. And even though CBS’ Kevin Harlan called just five of the 17 games the team played last season, he had a habit of narrating significant moments: the 70-point debacle in Miami, the meltdown in Detroit and three games during the 5-game winning streak — one of which he called on radio — including the Broncos’ first win over Kansas City in eight years.

And through the variance in results, one thing became apparent to Harlan, who has called NFL games since the mid-1980s:

Better days are ahead for Sean Payton and the Bronocs.

“So, I would say that I do believe the best is yet to come,” Harlan said on Super Bowl Radio Row last week in Las Vegas. “I do think he’s the right coach. They’ve got the right people running the organization. I think George Paton is a solid, solid GM. There’s a lot of things I like,” Harlan said. “They’ve got a good core.”

“He’s taking over last year a team that had a lot of the right parts, now bringing them together. And they’ve had a couple of years where they weren’t together. And it takes time.”

Time isn’t something Broncos Country necessarily wants to provide after seven-straight losing seasons. However, it’s probably necessary in this case.

“But it’s going to take another offseason to bring in more like-minded guys in there: Harlan said, “Figure out the quarterback thing — which they will, they’ll get it right — and move forward. And they will.”


Harlan suspected things wouldn’t be altogether smooth for Sean Payton and the 12-year veteran quarterback he inherited.

“The quarterback and him, you knew from the beginning was gonna be an interesting dance,” Harlan said, “and I don’t fault either party. Sean wants different things out of his quarterback.

“ … It just wasn’t gonna fit, and I think they all know it and I think they’re all honest with each other & I think that honesty came through as the season went on.”

But as Harlan saw, the wins came — at least for a 5-week burst in which the Broncos turned a 1-5 start into a winning record entering December, until the Broncos lost three of their next four games to plummet from playoff contention.

And Harlan saw not only Sean Payton bend his scheme to Wilson — but Wilson adjust to Payton, too.

“When you saw them begin to win, you thought, ‘Hmmm, who’s bending a little bit?’ I think both bent,” Harlan said. “I think both leaned over into the other to make it work, and then it kind of got off the rails and the season ended the way it did.”

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