Sean Payton’s confidence is fine; but hubris could be problematic

Mar 4, 2024, 4:00 AM | Updated: 4:52 am

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Confidence is a good thing. Nobody ever accomplished anything of note without first believing that they’re capable of the feat.

Heck, even overconfidence is okay. If no one else believes you can accomplish a feat, then all hope is lost. Believing in one’s self is important, on almost every front.

So it’s not a leap to get on board with what Sean Payton was saying at the NFL Scouting Combine. When the Broncos head coach was preaching his prowess at picking a quarterback, it was tough not to buy into what he was saying.

Payton talked a good game. He sounded like someone who knew what he was doing.

“I think we’ll be really good at this,” Payton said. “And I think to some degree, we’re glad that a lot of people aren’t.”

That’s bold. And he didn’t stop there.

“Well, it’s the most-difficult position in all of sports to play,” Payton added. “Every NFL team is searching for someone who can do it at a high level.”

But the Broncos are going to be better at finding that missing link?

“With quarterbacks, I think one think that’s hard to measure is their ability to multi-task and process and make decisions,” Payton continued. “You can visit with someone, they can be intelligent, but man, how quickly can they deliver the information and how quickly can they get through the progression? Are they accurate?”

That’s where Payton thinks he sees an advantage. That’s where he can spot the difference between the busts and the greats.

“There are some fundamental things that we have to see that are present and so sometimes it’s not as difficult as we make it out to be,” the Broncos HC said. “And sometimes it’s very difficult.”

In other words, Payton thinks he’s smarter than the rest of the NFL. While the league struggles to find an answer at QB, the Broncos head coach believes he’s a step ahead of everyone.

To some extent, that’s a great thing. Who wants someone in charge who doesn’t think they know what they’re doing?

But upon closer exam, Broncos Country needs to hope that Payton can back up his words. And there isn’t a lot of evidence to suggest that he can.

Yes, he turned Drew Brees into a Hall of Fame quarterback. But that came after the QB had five very productive years in San Diego.

Before signing with the Saints as a free agent, Brees posted a 30-28 record with the Chargers, while throwing 80 touchdowns to 52 interceptions.

In other words, he was already a good quarterback. Payton made him better. But he inherited a pretty polished product.

Yes, he made Brees a better player. That’s undeniable. But the Broncos aren’t in that market this year.

Denver won’t be shopping for an under-appreciated veteran in free agency. They simply can’t afford one.

So there won’t be a Brees 2.0 coming to the Broncos. It’s simply not in the cards, given the free-agent crop and Denver’s salary-cap constraints.

That’s far different than drafting a player in the top-12 and turning him into a franchise quarterback. The Broncos head coach has no track record of pulling off that feat.

Payton claims to be ahead of the game on that field when evaluating the rookie market. But there’s no evidence to suggest that he is smarter than the rest of the group. He hasn’t proven that fact.

The Broncos head coach has never developed a rookie quarterback. He’s never drafted a player and turned him into a bonafide star.

But he acts like he has. And that’s concerning.

It’s okay to think that you know more than the next guy. It’s alright to believe you can outsmart the competition.

But to think you can outwit every other football mind in the NFL despite the fact that you’ve never done it is pretty next level. That’s borderline over-confidence. It’s teetering on hubris.

Yes, Payton won with Brees. But that’s the extent of his resume highlights.

He also gave Taysom Hill a $10 million per year contract. He grossly overpaid for a gadget player.

He drafted Garrett Grayson in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft. The former CSU quarterback never played a down in the league.

That’s okay. Everyone misses. But to use that track record as the basis for confidence is concerning.

Could Payton know more than everyone else when it comes to picking a QB? Sure. That’s a possibility.

But he could also be as clueless as everyone else. Teams in the NFL are desperate for a QB, as everyone is searching for a star.

If they find one, they’re set for a decade. If they don’t, they’re on the QB carousel for years to come,

The Broncos voluntarily moved into that territory. When they eventually move on from Russell Wilson, they’ll be grasping at straws, searching for a quarterback, just like everyone else.

Sean Payton thinks he can solve that riddle, however. He believes that he’s cornered the market.

Has he? Only time will tell.

If he has, the Broncos will be fine. There’s certainly evidence to suggest that Payton can coach a QB once he has one.

But if he can’t, Denver will be set back for years to come. The Russell Wilson miss will be evident at every turn, saddling the team with all sorts of salary-cap issues.

Here’s hoping Sean Payton knows what he’s talking about. If so, the Broncos are all good. If not, the misery will continue in Denver.


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Sean Payton’s confidence is fine; but hubris could be problematic