First-year Denver Broncos coach Sean Payton invited USA Today columnist Jarrett Bell into his office and couldn't wait to ether the previous regime with comments one never, ever hears from someone even if they are inheriting a reclamation project. Long story short: he's going to be pissed off if the Russell Wilson-led side doesn't make the playoffs this year and has a Festivus-length list of things to get off his chest about the way Nathaniel Hackett & Co. ran things last season.
“It doesn’t happen often where an NFL team or organization gets embarrassed,” Payton said. “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.
“We’re not doing any of that. 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 (Sanders) there now.’ That team won eight games or whatever. So, listen…just put the work in.”
Keep in mind that we haven't even seen Hard Knocks yet and that Nathaniel Hackett is actually their offensive coordinator this season. This should make for a spicy matchup when the Jets fly into Denver in Week 5.
Payton was just getting warmed up, diving into how Wilson and the offense was mismanaged and how things are definitely going to be better in 2023.
“Oh, man,” Payton began. “There’s so much dirt around that. There’s 20 dirty hands, for what was allowed, tolerated in the fricking training rooms, the meeting rooms. The offense. I don’t know Hackett. A lot of people had dirt on their hands. It wasn’t just Russell. He didn’t just flip. He still has it. This B.S. that he hit a wall? Shoot, they couldn’t get a play in. They were 29th in the league in pre-snap penalties on both sides of the ball.”
“That wasn’t his fault,” Payton said of Wilson. “That was the parents who allowed it. That’s not an incrimination on him, but an incrimination on the head coach, the GM, the president and everybody else who watched it all happen.
“That was a message,” Payton said. “They can only beat the (expletive) out of you so much. 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.”
Payton let it be known that the Broncos are employing the classic do-the-opposite strategy made famous by George Costanza. And really, that does seem like the way to go. But good Lord, man, be careful with all of that napalm because someone could get hurt. Including the current staff if Wilson is pedestrian and Denver flounders out of the gates in a competitive division and tougher conference. Not that agents of chaos would root for that event horizon, of course.
It would have been awesome to hear Payton say some of this stuff when he was getting paid to comment on the NFL by Fox Sports but better late than never? Or better never than not at all? Time will tell.