Broncos player reveals Sean Payton's true thoughts on his roster in 2024

The Broncos are quietly confident
Denver Broncos
Denver Broncos / Dustin Bradford/GettyImages

All offseason long, we've been hearing about how bad the Denver Broncos are/are going to be this coming season. National media pundits have consistently been ranking the Denver Broncos extremely low in their offseason power rankings, the Broncos are typically picking high in the way-too-early 2025 NFL mock drafts, and roster rankings around the internet have painted the Broncos in a dismal light.

As difficult as it is to continually be reading the bad press, you wouldn't have any idea about the national perception of the Broncos based on the way head coach Sean Payton seemed all offseason long. Payton was jovial, talkative, and visibly excited throughout the course of the offseason as he met with the media on a variety of occasions.

The confidence exuded by Payton was notable because there was a stark contrast in the way he approached last offseason. The way Payton put it is that last year, he spent a lot of time "pissing on trees", meaning he had to mark his territory as the new head coach in town. This year, the roster is younger. Payton's "mark" is all over the organization from the front office to the coaching staff to the players on the field.

And although the media pundits don't necessarily see the vision, it's not hard to explain why Payton is excited about the potential of his team in 2024. Although it's not always this simple when it comes to the NFL, the Broncos won eight games last year and they just look like a better all-around roster in 2024. And Payton undoubtedly has a pep in his step thanks to taking Bo Nix 12th overall in the 1st round of the 2024 NFL Draft. Nix is the first first-round quarterback Sean Payton has ever selected.

Now, Denver Broncos linebacker Jonas Griffith has helped shed some new light on Payton's true thoughts about this roster. He gave 104.3 The FAN in Denver a little bit of behind-the-curtain information on what Payton is telling his players.

"I think he’s very confident in the team this year. 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."

Jonas Griffith, LB

There is undoubtedly a lot of work yet to be done, but it's safe to say it's working in the Broncos' favor to be more than underdogs this offseason. They're not just underdogs, they're afterthoughts. The NFL didn't even put the Broncos' matchup with Russell Wilson in a primetime TV slot. The Broncos are consistently playing in the 2:05 PM MT window this year and not the later 2:25 PM MT window which are the games the NFL tries to get more eyes on.

Expectations are extremely low, and the competitor in Sean Payton certainly can't wait to prove people wrong. Even if he's no longer using his middle fingers these days.

"I think that I have two middle fingers. I’ve gotten better with age [at] not using them. (laughs) I think it’s more—and I would say this changed for me—it’s more inward focused relative to our own team and what we’re doing. As you get older in this, you don’t waste the calories on certain things that I might’ve back in 2006, ’07, ’08. I don’t play a lot of video games, but you have ‘X’ amount of battery life and energy, and you try to use it where you think it’s best going to help the team. So you learn over time to not spend as much on the things you can’t control, certainly lists. If that concerned me, we wouldn’t have drafted [QB] Bo Nix where we selected him, if I was paying attention to that. That’s that ‘NFL train’ that no one knows who’s driving, and you have to pay attention to it, but you don’t want to hop on it or you just start making decisions… And we still don’t know who’s driving, it’s just going. Really paying attention to your gut, your experience and what you’re seeing. Those are the things that drive me now."

Sean Payton, via Broncos PR

Payton has been preaching to everyone all offseason not to get on the "NFL train". What he means is simply this -- don't let people who don't know what they are talking about change your gut feeling.

My gut tells me the Broncos are not going to be anywhere near as bad as what some people are projecting. Pro Football Focus says they have the literal worst roster in the NFL. The over/under on wins for this team is 5.5. Many people view the Broncos as being worse now than they were under Nathaniel Hackett in 2022?

I just don't see it. And it seems Sean Payton doesn't either.