New Research Provides Evidence That Broncos Will Contend in 2023

Sean Payton

Getty Denver Broncos HC Sean Payton speaking to the media at the NFL Scouting Combine.

The Denver Broncos have not appeared in a playoff game since they defeated the Carolina Panthers in the 2016 Super Bowl.

Denver is also the only team in NFL history to win a Super Bowl and miss the playoffs in the following seven straight seasons.

Now that the Broncos traded for head coach Sean Payton, history is showing that Denver could be back in the playoffs sooner than later.

According to NFL Research, Payton is the fifth head coach to be included in a trade for a first-round pick since 1970.

Three of the previous four coaches, per NFL Research, led their new teams to a Super Bowl triumph within three seasons — Don Shula, Bill Belichick, and Jon Gruden.

Shula took over a 3-10-1 team and made them a 10-4 team while Belichick took over an 8-8 Patriots team and led them to a 5-11 record in his first season.

Gruden on the other hand is the only head coach to be traded and win a Super Bowl in his first season with his new team. He took over for Tony Dungy’s 9-7 Buccaneers and turned them into a 12-4 Super Bowl-winning team the following year.

The fourth head coach that was traded was Bill Parcells, who was traded from the Patriots to the Jets, and led New York to a winning record in his first season, but failed to make the playoffs.

The Broncos who have one of the longest playoff droughts in the NFL are in emergency mode under Payton to get back into the playoffs.

Payton’s First Season in New Orleans

In 2006, the Saints hired Payton to be their next head coach after a 3-13 season. New Orleans owned the 31st-ranked scoring offense with Aaron Brooks at quarterback the previous season.

During Payton’s first season, the Saints found their franchise quarterback after they signed free agent Drew Brees to a six-year $60 million deal.

Payton improved the Saints’ offense 26 spots in scoring as they finished fifth and first in yards. The Saints would finish the season with a 10-6 overall record and the division title in the NFC South.

In the Divisional Round of the playoffs, Payton’s Saints took down Andy Reid’s Eagles by a score of 27-24.

In the NFC Championship game, Payton’s Saints met their match as they were dominated by the Chicago Bears 39-14. Chicago, with the third-ranked scoring defense, would advance to the Super Bowl, but ended up losing to Peyton Manning’s Indianapolis Colts.

Russell Wilson Must Play Well for Denver

Last season, Russell Wilson had one of the worst statistical seasons of his career. The former Seattle Seahawks quarterback threw for just 16 touchdowns and completed a career-low 60.5 percent of his passes.

Some of the blame could go on former Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett after he was fired 15 games into his first season, but Wilson had his own struggles.

After the Broncos started off with a 1-1 record, averaging 16 points per game, Payton jumped on “The Herd With Colin Cowherd” in October and explained that Wilson can be fixed.

“You correct flaws immediately, and then we don’t worry about how long the process is going to take,” Payton said. “In other words, I’d want a cut-up today of all of Russell’s pass plays of 30 or more yards from the field and I’d want to see, ‘Are there some schemes that he felt very comfortable with?’”

Payton also mentioned that he would like to see what Wilson did successfully in Seattle.

“I know that they did a great job in Seattle of bringing him off of a naked-boot and then pulling up,” Payton said. “And then we all saw that throwback to [Tyler] Lockett across the field where the ball traveled 60 yards in the air.”

Payton would also want to see the touchdowns that Wilson has thrown in the red zone.

“I’d want to look at another film of his red zone touchdown passes inside the 20,” Payton said. “What I’m asking for from assistants is, I’m asking for some of his greatest hits, and to make sure that we have those song lyrics available, and if not, let’s put them in.”

Evidence shows that if the Broncos are going to contend for a world championship again, everything falls on their new head coach and struggling quarterback.