The newest head coach of the Denver Broncos, Sean Payton, has been in Denver for about a week trying to assemble his coaching staff and research the football team he’s taking over.
On February 6, Payton met with the local media for the first-time since being named the head coach of the Broncos. It didn’t take long for Payton to take a few shots at last year’s head coach, Nathaniel Hackett.
When talking to the media in a scrum after his introductory press conference, Payton was asked what makes him a good game manager.
“There’s certain things you’ll learn from experience. I played quarterback I think that helps, but also I was around some really good people.” Payton continued, “I still want to hear those assistants in my ear always relative to timeout usage in the fourth quarter. I don’t anticipate the crowd having to countdown the 30 second clock.”
These comments came after last season when Hackett struggled managing games late in the fourth quarter.
Things all started in Week 1 when the Broncos had a chance to win the game against the Seahawks with just over four minutes to go. Denver’s offense moved the ball just 34 yards to get it on the Seattle 46-yard line so that kicker Brandon McManus could attempt a 64-yard field goal to win the game.
The decision making was so bad that Peyton Manning and Shannon Sharpe were confused by the decision making.
Later on in the season, the Broncos had many delay of game penalties getting thrown their way on offense because Hackett couldn’t get the plays into Wilson in time before the play clock expired. This caused the Denver crowd at home games to start chanting and counting down the play clock so that the offense knew that they needed to snap the ball.
The game management was so poor that the Broncos went out and hired Jerry Rosburg to help manage the games from the booth.
Payton’s Shot on Hackett’s Offense
When Hackett was hired last season, the hope was that Hackett would bring back the west coast offense that most Broncos fans remember from the Mike Shanahan and Gary Kubiak coaching days.
Instead, Hackett’s offense didn’t look anything like that.
The offense wasn’t built in a way to maximize the talent from the players on offense.
Last season, Denver’s offense ranked dead last in the NFL averaging 16.9 points per game.
Denver’s offense was so bad that Wilson had career lows in wins, total QBR, completion percentage, yards per drop back, and touchdown to interception ratio.
“I did feel like in the last couple of weeks, we saw a little bit more of maybe what we were expecting or accustomed to (in Wilson’s play),” Payton said.
In the first 13 games that Hackett had an impact on the offense, Wilson was averaging 232.2 passing yards per game with a completion percentage of 60.1 percent. Wilson was averaging just 0.9 touchdowns per game as well and had a quarterback rating of 82.6.
In the final two games without Hackett, Wilson was averaging 20 more passing yards per game and increased his completion percentage by nearly three percent. Wilson averaged two passing touchdowns per game and had a quarterback rating of 96.5.
“I kind of was taught early on, what is it they (players) do well and let’s have them do those things. None of us want to be at a karaoke bar with a song we don’t know the words to,” Payton said.
With Payton running the offense, there’s a real chance that we will see the Wilson we’re used to seeing from his Seattle days.
Payton is Symbolic
During Payton’s most recent TV appearance before he was named the head coach of the Denver Broncos, Payton wore an orange tie and quickly said it was for the Bengals when they were taking on the Chiefs in the AFC Championship game.
The internet exploded wondering if Payton wore the tie to send a message that it was for the Broncos and he confirmed it during his press conference.
Later in his presser, Payton explained that he likes being symbolic.
“This pocket tissue I’m wearing right now has an angle going upward and the horse (pin) has an angle going upwards. This morning when I put it on it’s kind of symbolic of the direction we’re heading right now.”