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Sean Payton on Broncos first win of the season: ‘We are still not doing well’

The Denver Broncos are officially in the win column, but it took a drastic come-from-behind effort vs. the Chicago Bears to make it happen, and the head coach is not satisfied

NFL: Denver Broncos at Chicago Bears Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos won their first game of the 2023 NFL season Sunday afternoon after a dramatic (more so than it had to be) come-from-behind victory over the Chicago Bears at Solder Field.

For some Broncos fans, it was a game that renewed a sense of pride an optimism. The team, down 28-7 in the third quarter, finally showed some fight and did what they had to do to save the game. It was a game that showed perseverance and a renewed sense of pride, and perhaps that attitude will carry forward in the coming weeks.

For other Broncs fans, well, the team still stinks, the defense still made another mediocre QB look like Patrick Mahomes, and now the team has probably shot themselves in the foot with regards to the race to the number one pick and Caleb Williams.

Fans are gonna fan. It’s in the nature of the fan. What’s more important is what’s being talked about between the walls of the locker room following a game like that. What’s the vibe like? Is the team celebrating a miracle win over another terrible, previously 0-3 team like a Super Bowl? Or are they disappointed the team was once gain so flat early on and had to hope for lucky bounces to get the win?

Head coach Sean Payton, who is accustomed to competing for division and conference championships if not Super Bowls, wasn't exactly blowing confetti in the air following the win.

“I told the players afterwards, look, there is a lot of things that we’re going to have to clean up, and we are still not doing well,” he opened his press conference with to the media. “But the one thing that I was proud of is they hung in there. They fought when it would’ve been real easy not to. We came up with enough plays in the end, but we’re going to have to play a lot better if we think we want to win more games this season.”

Payton credited the win due to the team getting momentum when it mattered, something the group fumbled during the Washington Commanders game but held onto this contest.

“This game is funny,” he said. “They’re momentum plays; the sack fumble touchdown I think is significant...But I think the momentum, there were a couple shifts, us scoring and then getting — that’s a quick 14 points when you look at it, our touchdown and then the recovered fumble for a touchdown. So we hung in and got the win.”

The Broncos defense, though, which had given up an absurd 70 points the week prior to the Miami Dolphins (who struggled to put up points this week vs. the Buffalo Bills), remained a liability, particularly in the first half of the game where Bears QB Justin Fields was near perfect.

The defense did come up huge when it mattered, though, making a crucial stop on fourth-and-one to turn the ball over and downs. However, Payton’s response was less of a coach confident in his defensive unit and more of one just happy to stay alive.

“Yeah, I mean, on the fourth down stop I was a little surprised,” he said. “We knew they were going to go hard count. When they came back out I thought they’re wanting to end the game. I was kind of managing the timeouts with still one left, but a first down there really puts us in a bind just relative to time.”

Payton will take the win, but overall he hopes this puts into effect a drive that gets this team back into a winning mindset, something the team still is struggling to find.

“I think the win is significant,” he said. “Just coming back to work, because there will be some tough tape tomorrow. You know, I don’t want to sugarcoat anything. There are some things — we’re going to play a lot better teams on our schedule, and no disrespect to Chicago and Matt, what they’re trying to do. I’m sure the feeling is the same here.”

The Broncos return home next weekend to welcome the New York Jets and last year’s head coach Nathaniel Hackett.