Former Sean Payton Assistant Sends Message on ‘Rejuvenated’ Broncos Coach

Getty Lions head coach Dan Campbell said his former boss during his Saints tenure, Sean Payton, could turn the Broncos around

Sean Payton could be the coach needed to turn the Broncos around — this at least according to his former assistant head coach while with the Saints and current Lions head coach Dan Campbell.

While speaking to in-house reporter Aric DiLalla, Campbell called the 59-year-old ‘rejuvenated’ after a year away from coaching following 24 uninterrupted years at the high school, collegiate, and NFL levels. “I felt like he just needed a breather,” Campbell told DiLalla. “He needed a change of scenery. I had a feeling he would be back. I would say this: He looks rejuvenated. He definitely looks rejuvenated. If anybody can get that thing turned around out there, it’s him.”

In 2022, following his departure from the Saints on January 25, Payton joined FOX Sports as an analyst on FOX NFL Kickoff. He was named head coach of the Broncos by the franchise on February 3.

Sean Payton Wanted to Hire Vic Fangio to Broncos Staff

During a February 28 press conference at the NFL Combine, Payton revealed that he wanted Vic Fangio, the Broncos head coach from 2019-2021 before the failed Nathaniel Hackett experiment last season, to return to Denver as the team’s defensive coordinator. Instead, Fangio went to the Dolphins. Payton joked to reporters that it was their fault Fangio ended up in Miami. “Vic was supposed to be part of the plan and then you guys scared him away,” he joked.

Payton then spoke to Fangio’s influence on modern NFL defenses while praising the 64-year-old and sharing conversations the two have had. “[The Dolphins are] getting a tremendous coach,” Payton said. “You keep hearing everyone’s running Fangio’s defense and then Fangio and I are retired, just sitting out there. I used to give him a hard time. I’m like, ‘God, Vic, half the teams in this league are running your defense and you haven’t met half of those people.’”

Payton admits he would’ve loved having Fangio on his Broncos staff and revealed the extent of their discussions to team up in Denver. “Do I think he would have been a great asset for us?” Payton asked. “Yes. So we were planning in this year away that if the rights scenario came up, that we’d work together. I think this one was just a little unique because it wasn’t too long ago that he was here. Certainly, I tried to talk to him and tried to twist his arm. I’m excited for his opportunity in Miami. I think he’s a talented coach.”

Sean Payton Hired Vance Joseph Over Rex Ryan and Matt Patricia

Several high profile former NFL coaches were passed on by Payton in order for Denver to land on defensive coordinator Vance Joseph — the Broncos head coach in 2017 and 2018. Payton told reporters at the NFL Combine the thinking behind his hiring process.

“Regarding Vance, and Rex, and the other defensive coordinators that we interviewed, we went through the process,” Payton said. “We felt like we were going to be real patient with that hire and try to dig as much as we could relative to the fit and finding the right guy. Rex, Matt, Sean Desai—all those guys—were outstanding. But in the end, there were a few things that I felt that Vance was going to bring—and not necessarily because he had experience in Denver—but really, more what he was able to do, believe it or not, in Arizona. That was a tough job for a number of years. So we’re excited to have him on our defensive staff.”

Joseph has spent the past three seasons serving as Kliff Kingsbury’s defensive coordinator with the Cardinals. The 50-year-old has been working at the collegiate and NFL levels since 1999.