BRONCOS

Sean Payton is ‘real comfortable with the guys this year,’ says Jonas Griffith

Jun 26, 2024, 12:36 AM | Updated: 12:38 am

Sean Payton cut a relaxed profile when he met with media during OTAs and minicamp this spring. His press conferences were lengthy, highlighted by a willingness to linger at the lectern adjacent to the Denver Broncos practice fields, answering a fusillade of questions that combed through league-wide topics, the depth chart and his personal memories of past players. Some of his press conferences stretched for more than a half-hour.

It was a marked change from last year at the same time, when sometimes Payton’s briefings would be cut off after just a handful of queries.

“There is probably [a notion] in the first year where you are pissing on all of the trees, and I’m probably guilty of that,” Payton acknowledged June 12.

But away from the cameras and notepads — and the high pressure of game days, leading to some exchanges captured on-camera — the Sean Payton seen by the Broncos players last year wasn’t grumpy — at least not to linebacker Jonas Griffith.

“Honestly, I think last year he was not grumpy towards the players,” Griffith told Zach Bye and Phillip Lindsay on Tuesday’s edition of The Drive on 104.3 The Fan.

“It was towards the media or whatever it may be — I’m not really sure how that whole aspect went.”

That side of Payton won over much of the team — beyond the players who arrived as part of a New Orleans diaspora that settled into the Broncos locker room. It didn’t hurt, of course, that a 5-game winning streak at midseason provided tangible validation for the radical change in methodology and attention to detail that defined practices in a way that had not been the case before.

“I think that there’s a difference in the Sean Payton that the media gets versus that the players get,” Griffith said.

“I mean, he’s obviously been nothing but great to me. We talk all the time because he’s an Eastern Illinois guy and I’m an Indiana State guy; that’s two big rivals. And we talk every day. Even last year we talked about it.”

BUT THERE IS SOMETHING DIFFERENT ABOUT SEAN PAYTON

And, according to Griffith, it’s in his confidence in the team.

“I think he’s very confident in the team this year,” Griffith said. “We’re going to surprise a lot of people.

“He talks about it a lot to us, too. He’s like, ‘Hey, you know — real comfortable with the guys this year. And we’re ready to go. Got a lot of work to do still, but we’re ready.”

It’s truly Payton’s team now. But in choosing to re-sign inherited players such as Griffith and safety PJ Locke while also keeping others such as left tackle Garett Bolles — who could have been cut to net a $16-million salary-cap savings — making the Broncos his team doesn’t just involve a bunch of free-agent and draft additions with a sprinkling of ex-Saints thrown into the mix. It’s about identifying the players already on hand who fit into the mix going forward.

And Griffith — who missed all of last season with a torn ACL, but returned and saw a full workload during OTAs and minicamp — could be among them.

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