Sean Payton explains Broncos mistake with Marvin Mims in 2023 season

We now know why Marvin Mims had such a minimal role as a rookie
Denver Broncos
Denver Broncos / Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

There's absolutely no question that the Denver Broncos under-utilized wide receiver Marvin Mims in his rookie season. The fact that Mims's only receiving touchdown in 2023 came in the second week of the season is bordering on criminal.

It looked like Sean Payton and the Broncos' offensive coaches were set to increase Mims's role offensively over the course of the season. There was a clear playmaking ability when Mims was getting opportunities, and unfortunately, he ended his rookie year with more kick and punt returns (34) than receptions (22).

The fact that Mims ended up making the Pro Bowl and was named 2nd-team All-Pro as a return man almost made matters even worse. Why was Mims not more involved in a passing attack that desperately needed the jolt he could provide all offseason?

Broncos head coach Sean Payton explained what I would call a mistake the team made as they navigated through the 2023 season.

"I think one of the challenges is… I’ve said this, and I’ll say it again. We were as much responsible for, I don’t want to say holding him back, but you’re trying to get snaps with [former WR] Jerry Jeudy, with [WR] Courtland [Sutton]. I think we’ll see a lot of growth from Year 1 to Year 2."

Sean Payton (via Broncos PR)

Onlookers of Denver Broncos OTAs (the few sessions that have been available to the media so far) have noted how explosive Mims has been looking. At last week's OTAs session, Mims had one of the biggest plays of the day on a pass thrown by Jarrett Stidham.

Payton's quote seems to allude to the fact that there was no "holding back" happening with Marvin Mims last year. Sometimes there's a school of thought out there that young players are held back simply because they're young, they're not ready, they're not good enough, or some other negative reason. It seems Payton is making it clear that the Broncos weren't holding Mims back, but rather getting as many reps as they could for Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton.

Hopefully there will be a more expanded package of plays in 2024 to involve as many receivers as possible, because as of right now, there are a handful of really good receivers that we all hope to see making plays out there on Sundays this season. Not just Marvin Mims, but Courtland Sutton, Tim Patrick, Josh Reynolds, rookie Troy Franklin, and plenty of others. It's still a bit of a struggle to buy the idea that there simply weren't snaps or touches out there each week for Mims.

From Week 5 to Week 9 of the 2023 season, Mims had one target or fewer. That's egregious. We saw the Broncos try to course correct after that Buffalo game in Week 10, and they did start to try and manufacture some touches for Mims. Unfortunately, a lot of those touches were in the short passing game just trying to get the ball in Mims's hands and let him use his explosiveness, but it didn't work. They tried handing the ball off to him at times as well, but again -- not much was overly successful and it didn't have longevity.

The plan -- the vision -- for Marvin Mims has got to be coming to fruition here in 2024 if he's expected to take as big of a leap as Sean Payton is suggesting.