Never one to shy away from offering his opinion, new Denver coach Sean Payton didn’t hold back while speaking to USA Today about his predecessor Nathaniel Hackett and the way he handled Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson last season. For good measure, Payton also took some shots at the team that is currently employing Hackett as an offensive coordinator, the New York Jets.
A Super Bowl winner while coaching Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints, Payton was hired out of retirement to help right the ship in Denver and help Wilson regain the form he showed in his years with the Seahawks. Payton seems confident in his ability to redeem Wilson and largely blamed his poor play last season (3,524 passing yards, 16 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 15 starts) on Hackett, who was fired by the Broncos 15 games into the season after Denver limped to a 4-11 record.
“Everything I heard about last season, we’re doing the opposite,” Payton told USA Today. “But everybody’s got a little stink on their hands. It’s not just Russell. It was a [poor] offensive line. It might have been one of the worst coaching jobs in the history of the NFL. That’s how bad it was. It doesn’t happen often where an NFL team or organization gets embarrassed. And that happened here. Part of it was their own fault, relative to spending so much [expletive] time trying to win the offseason — the PR, the pomp and circumstance, marching people around and all this stuff.”
$245 Million QB Russell Wilson Facing Make-or-Break Season in DenverThe Broncos can avoid future guarantees by releasing Wilson after the 2023 season
Payton is adamant that the Broncos will be eliminating pomp and circumstance this offseason and then singled out the Jets, who now employ Hackett and lightning-rod quarterback Aaron Rodgers, as a team that is unable to do so.
“We’re not doing any of that,” Payton said. “The Jets did that this year. You watch. Hard Knocks, all of it. I can see it coming. Remember when [former Washington owner] Dan Snyder put that Dream Team together? I was at the Giants (in 2000). I was a young coach. I thought, ‘How are we going to compete with them? Deion’s there now.’ That team won eight games or whatever. So, listen…just put the work in.”
The Jets heard what Payton had to say:
Jets wideout Randall Cobb, who played with Rodgers in Green Bay and may have been on a list of players the ex-Packer requested be brought to New York, also had some choice words for Payton.
Cobb, who played under Hackett when he was the offensive coordinator for the Packers in 2021, also stuck up for his OC.
“I was surprised that they only gave less than a year to put in his pieces,” Cobb said. “That’s this business though. That’s this business and that’s the way that it goes. You got to take it how you take and move forward.”
Based on all the chatter, which hopefully will continue, look forward to Jets-Broncos in Denver in Week 5.