After the recent controversy surrounding quarterback Russell Wilson, finishing the season strong appears to be more important than ever.
There is little doubt the franchise will be in pursuit of a new signal caller for the offense next season. Whether that is in the draft, free agency, or via trade remains to be seen. Yet there is no doubt Sean Payton is getting a guy in that room he believes can run his system.
After all, new ownership gave Payton a lengthy and large contract. Given the cap restraints and the fact the Broncos are facing a significant $85 million-dollar dead cap hit from moving on from Wilson, I’d bet the draft is the route they go. Regardless, I’m absolutely fascinated to see how that plays out.
Would it really be a Broncos offseason without the added allure of another quarterback pursuit?
Payton's offenses in New Orleans were successful because Drew Brees was one of the best anticipatory throwing QBs in the history of the NFL. He could attack the middle of defenses at will and had an incredible feel for things that Wilson just doesn't. https://t.co/vO50uMBMp9— Christopher Hart (@topherhart) December 29, 2023
But what is critical given the aforementioned is that Payton and the Broncos finish the season strong. Two wins against the Chargers and Raiders likely won’t get them into the playoffs, but ending the season on a high note would go a long way toward forging that winning identity and culture Payton spoke so much of upon being hired. In Payton’s fifteen-year coaching career with the New Orleans Saints, they only had four losing seasons.
Given Payton’s aura and personality, I strongly doubt he wants the team to fizzle out in the final two games—better draft position be damned. He was adamant that the change was made because they are desperately trying to win football games. When he says that, I certainly believe him.
While I agree whole-heartedly with the benching of Wilson, there is little doubt that such a decision adds more fuel to the fire Payton and the Broncos. The idea that his seat is somehow getting hotter in just his first season seems a bit misplaced, but such a move obviously adds more pressure on him.
Russell Wilson's stats in a "no huddle" offense this season: 28/50, 287 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception.— Christopher Hart (@topherhart) December 30, 2023
Russell Wilson's stats in the fourth quarter when behind: 45/80, 532 yards, 5 touchdowns, 2 interceptions. https://t.co/pc34LGEABg
We might not have big expectations for Jarrett Stidham this week in his first start donning orange and blue, it’s self-evident that he needs to come out and play well. If he doesn’t, there will be even more fans and pundits questioning what I thought was a rather obvious decision in the first place. And if he doesn’t look good at all, the Broncos could very well be in a position where they are looking at adding not one, but two quarterbacks this offense.
With that in mind, I’ll certainly be rooting for Stidham and the Broncos to come out hot against the Chargers this weekend and to finally take care of business on the road against the Raiders. A better draft slot would be nice, but two wins are a step forward for Payton in his pursuit of turning the Broncos back to a winning franchise worthy of praise.