Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson had a terrible year under head coach Nathaniel Hackett during the 2022 season. While he did post career lows in passer rating, touchdown passes, and QBR, my hope is that Hackett was the biggest problem of them all.
With Sean Payton as the team’s new head coach, I’m feeling like we could be safe in expectations being greater. I’m hopeful that Payton’s past experience as a head coach will put all of the stuff that we dealt with last season to rest. At the end of the day, nobody knows for sure if Wilson is in fact cooked. But Hackett just did not seem like the head coach type of coach. Pair that with the presence of Justin Outten as offensive coordinator, and it was just a mess. It felt like Outten didn’t do a whole lot and that Hackett did; it just was not a match made in heaven.
While Payton did have a Hall of Fame quarterback for his entire career as head coach of the New Orleans Saints, he was able to utilize a player in Taysom Hill to fit his vast array of abilities. He was innovative. He’s been around. We don’t have to worry about a first-time head coach this time around, unlike the last couple of seasons with Vic Fangio, Vance Joseph, and Hackett.
The Broncos added some help on the offensive side of the ball in wide receivers Marvin Mims and Marquez Callaway and tight end Adam Trautman. While none of those are necessarily household names, you can’t say that the team hasn’t done its part in trying to add playmakers. Oh, and they also have held onto their wide receivers Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy (at least for now) and don’t appear to be interested in trading them away (at least for now).
I think that it is also crucial that the new ownership hired a head coach that has been known to relate to his players. He has experience. I don’t think the Broncos will be making the same mistake again in terms of hiring a first-time head coach when Payton retires. Unless they are certain that that new head coach is the right person for the job. The big difference is that it wasn’t even the Walton-Penners who hired Hackett. Hackett was in Denver prior to the selling of the team.
I understand the hesitancy regarding the Denver Broncos. I understand why people don’t want to say they’ll be in the playoffs in 2023. The thing is, the new ownership made a huge change at head coach, and that could be the ultimate difference-maker going forward.