Broncos Offensive Line Coach an ‘Achiever’ According to Sean Payton

Getty Sean Payton called new Broncos offensive line coach Zach Strief an "achiever" during at the annual owners meeting on March 27

First-year Broncos offensive coordinator Zach Strief is an “achiever” according to the man that hired him, first-year Denver head coach Sean Payton — who was his coach during their days together on the Saints from 2006-2011 and 2013-2017 and also had him on his New Orleans staff during Payton’s final season in the Big Easy in 2021.

“There’s certain people you get to come across in your lifetime that you just know are achievers,” Payton said during the annual owners meeting on March 27. “You know whatever it is they don’t know, they’ll figure out quickly and be successful. He’s one of those people.”

Payton said that Strief was always on his radar. “He was a target,” Payton said. “Wherever I went, if I was able to, (I was going to) hire him as the line coach.”

Strief became a long-term starter for the Saints after being taken in the seventh round of the 2006 NFL draft with the No. 210 pick overall. Following his retirement in 2017, Strief became a play-by-play analyst for the Saints radio broadcast team. This will be his first NFL season as a player or coach in which he won’t be in New Orleans.

Sean Payon on Drafting Zach Strief to Saints in 2006

Northwestern’s former head coach Randy Walker allegedly chewed Payton out back in 2006 ahead of the NFL draft for not knowing who Strief was — and not realizing the tackle was an NFL-caliber talent.

“We finished with the quarterback and (Walker) said, ‘What do you think of my right tackle?’ ” Payton said. “I said, ‘Who is your right tackle?’ And he yelled at me like I should’ve known, and I probably should’ve, ‘Zach Strief! This kid can play in your league.'”

Payton viewed that conversation with the late Walker as a game-changer ahead of that year’s draft.

“When I hung up the phone — and I knew, it didn’t come from Randy that often — I walked into the draft room and I saw his name was on the back board with free agents,” Payton said. “I grabbed his magnet and walked it over and put it in the sixth round. That was a good phone conversation.”

Saints General Manager on Zach Strief

The Strief praise didn’t end with Payton. Saints general manager Mickey Loomis, who was there for both Strief’s playing and coaching career in New Orleans, also had high praise for the 39-year-old Broncos offensive line coach at the annual owners meeting.

“I thought the world of him as a player, a teammate, he’s smart,” Loomis said of Strief. “I think he’s gonna skyrocket as a coach,” Loomis said. “So I hate that he’s not with us, and yet I completely understand that he had an opportunity to go there and have his own room.”

Loomis saw Streif’s journey as a “natural progression” from a player to a coach of the same position he played at.

“And that’s the natural progression,” Loomis said. “That’s what coaching is. So I’m happy for him. But yeah, he’s got a bright future as a coach, potentially a head coach, I think.”

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