The Denver Broncos just made one of the most aggressive, significant trades in recent memory for a Hall-of-Fame caliber individual who is certain to elevate the franchise from mediocrity to annual playoff team.
These words above, in one way or another, seemed to be the mantra for the Broncos in the 2022 offseason when the team traded for superstar QB Russell Wilson. What transpired thereafter turned into perhaps the biggest letdown in the history of the franchise.
Not only did Wilson and the offense underperform, but they were historically inept in just about every category, and the only attention Wilson was able to get for himself was for his cringeworthy “Let’s Ride” overusage and terrible Subway commercials.
This needs to be said, because as a reminder, the greatest movie trailer of all time can still lead to a pretty crappy movie (thanks, “The Last Jedi”). That is what took place for the Broncos 2022 season, and as such, fans should have learned to temper expectations.
None of this is to say Sean Payton’s hiring doesn’t deserve celebration and rejoicing, because it does. Nathaniel Hackett will go down in history as one of the most underqualified failures of a head coach for any franchise ever. Replacing that with an experienced, Super Bowl-winning coach who won 10 or more games in nine of 15 years is like upgrading from an old bubble screen TV with rabbit ears to an 8K high definition 75-inch Samsung.
However, expecting a complete 180-degree turnaround, a worst-to-first scenario, should be approached with caution. See 2022 offseason for example.
This isn’t necessarily saying Wilson and Payton are apples-to-apples additions, as there were murmurs of Wilson slowing down prior to the trade and all sorts of locker room divides in Seattle. Payton, on the other hand, outside of bounty-gate, has only produced positive reviews and always had the Saints ready to compete for a Super Bowl title.
He took a franchise from complete irrelevancy into an annual contender by year one. It would be truly, very nice if he could do the same in Denver.
However, just as the “Was it Pete Carroll or Russell Wilson?” questions were raised this past offseason, the “Was it Sean Payton or Drew Brees?” questions will as well. Yet, he won nine games in his first post-Brees season, and that was featuring three starting quarterbacks in Jameis Winston, Trevor Siemian, and Taysom Hill.
He will most certainly have the offense, including Wilson, playing significantly better, but it may still fall well short of the explosiveness of those Saints offenses. And that’s okay. While it would be tremendous to see him turn around the team in year one like he did with the Saints, it’s important to remember that this team has been infected with a culture of losing, and sometimes that isn’t the easiest fix, no matter how easy Payton made it look in New Orleans.
Broncos Country was burned harshly this past offseason due to expectations that fell wildly short once the season commenced. Just as one might tell a child or friend who suffered a devastating heartbreak and who is now enamored with a new love interest...take it slow.
The Broncos went all in on a QB last season, but they blew it with the coaching hire. They are attempting to remedy it by once again going all in, this time with the coach. Whether or not this match will turn the team around cannot yet be known, and like it or not, patience must be practiced.
The good news is the Broncos new ownership walked the walk and will do it again if necessary. They said they would swing big and hire a great coach and they delivered. If things don’t go as smoothly as they hope in year one, there is no doubt they will make the necessary moves to accelerate the closing of the gap with the Chiefs.
Good things are coming. They just may not happen overnight.
Mile High Morning: A look at the Pro Bowl Games’ week ahead for Pat Surtain II
This year, the league’s annual all-star event enters a new format with no full-contact game.
Mile High Morning: Pat Surtain II to compete in Best Catch competition at Pro Bowl Games
As the new-look Pro Bowl Games begin, Broncos fans will have a chance to watch cornerback Pat Surtain II compete in a pair of challenges.
Drew Brees: Russell Wilson about to enter his 'prime' with Sean Payton as Broncos coach
Payton's former star QB in New Orleans shares his thoughts on what he expects when Wilson and Payton team up
Broncos had a perfect reaction to Tom Brady’s retirement on Twitter
Tom Brady is retiring again, and the Broncos had a perfect response.
Bengals' Joe Mixon faces arrest warrant after allegedly pointing firearm at woman - CBSSports.com
Mixon is reportedly being charged with aggravated menacing
Ten NFL players who have earned big paydays this offseason: Joe Burrow and Nick Bosa poised to set market - CBSSports.com
Breaking down 10 players who could reset their respective markets in the coming months
Agent's Take: Nick Bosa patiently awaits new contract as 49ers star could land deal that resets non-QB market - CBSSports.com
The DPOY frontrunner is very likely to become the NFL's highest-paid non-quarterback
2023 NFL free agency: One player each team should prioritize signing in offseason - CBSSports.com
Tony Pollard to the Broncos? Yes, please. Playing free agency matchmaker before things officially get underway