Following an offseason of hype due to the acquisition of Russell Wilson, the Denver Broncos had a year to forget in 2022. They went 5-12 overall and twice had losing streaks of at least four games. Then this offseason, they again made a bold move as they traded for head coach Sean Payton.
Denver sent a first-round pick in 2023 and a second-rounder in 2024 to the New Orleans Saints in exchange for the rights to sign Payton. They also received a third-rounder in 2024 but the Broncos still paid a massive price for the former Saints coach.
His arrival was widely praised and Payton even had some great moments in press conferences — like when he bashed Nathaniel Hackett for the world to hear. He endeared himself to fans quickly with his brash personality and his confidence was supposed to lead to more wins.
Unfortunately, that hasn't been the case. Two games into the Payton era, Denver is now 0-2 and just had an epic meltdown, giving up a 21-3 lead to the Washington Commanders.
Sure, Denver made it close, even pulling to within two on a late Hail Mary. They were even robbed of a potential overtime when a flag wasn't thrown on the two-point conversion. But they never should have been in a position where they needed a two-pointer to tie things up. They should have been able to wrap this game up long before such a play happened.
Sean Payton has surely opened himself up for criticism with his unnecessary criticism of Nathaniel Hackett before the season began. He took aim at the man he replaced and if you're going to do this, you better make sure you back up the talk.
So far, that hasn't happened. Instead, he has them off to a worse start than Hackett did — Denver was 2-1 after three weeks. Now, they're 0-2 and the coach has made several questionable calls.
Sean Payton has been overrated for several years now
It makes sense that the criticism is coming in now but the real question goes back to why Denver thought he was worth a massive draft haul. Sure, Payton is a Super Bowl winning coach but he hasn't won a title since 2009.
In all honesty, he's really just Mike McCarthy with a better PR image.
In 16 years as a head coach, Payton has a record of 152-90 and is 9-8 in the playoffs. His winning percentage in the regular season is 62.8 and 52.9 in the playoffs — with the Super Bowl in 2009.
McCarthy, on the other hand, has been coaching for 17 seasons. He boasts a record of 156-97-2 and is 11-10 in the playoffs. That means he's won 61.6 percent of his games and 52.4 percent in the playoffs — winning the Super Bowl in 2010. And before we say he won his with Aaron Rodgers, remember Payton had Drew Brees, so it wasn't as if he was handcuffed with his signal-caller.
Despite their records being insanely close, the idea of trading a first and second-round pick for McCarthy would be laughable. Just as it should have been when the Broncos did it.
And unless he turns things around quickly, it will be remembered as a massive loss for the franchise.