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Sean Payton not a top-10 coach, per PFF, but should bring out the best in Russell Wilson, also per PFF

Analytics site Pro Football Focus doesn’t think Denver Broncos coach Sean Payton is among the game’s elite, but they also figure Russell Wilson was among the most helped QBs this offseason due to his arrival

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There appears to be a difference of opinion of sorts among the staff at Pro Football Focus regarding certain personnel for the Denver Broncos.

The site posted a list-piece on Tuesday of this week ranking the top 10 coaches in the NFL. At the top were names of little surprise, Andy Reid of the Kansas City Chiefs, Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots, and Mike Tomlin are the top three, and as multiple Super Bowl winners each, their spots are valid. After that, though, it gets a bit sloppy.

The rest of the names, in order, were Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers, John Harbaugh of the Baltimore Ravens, Sean McVay of the LA Rams, Doug Pederson of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Nick Sirianni of the Philadelphia Eagles, Sean McDermott of the Buffalo Bills, and Brian Daboll of the New York Giants.

Out of sight was Payton, the man who has won 161 games (including nine playoff games), a Super Bowl, and his division seven times (and four of his last five years in New Orleans). So he takes a year off and now takes a seat to a guy who went 9-8-1 in his lone season in Daboll, or a guy with one double-digit win season in Pederson? And if taking a year off is punishment, why does a figurative year off (5-12 record) for Sean McVay get a pass?

All are good coaches, but some of the names ahead of a career winner like Payton are...odd. His absence is especially more odd when on the very same site a day later a different writer listed the quarterbacks who got the most help during the offseason. On that list? Russell Wilson. His coach? Sean Payton.

While “help” doesn’t necessarily mean coaching help, as other names like Aaron Rodgers and Lamar Jackson were included due to the skill players surrounding them. And while the writer did mention some of Wilson’s upgrades (Marvin Mims, OL), the primary reason for his inclusion was his new coach.


Wilson didn’t play well last year, let’s be clear, but the offense around him wasn’t good, either. He didn’t mesh with first-year head coach Nathaniel Hackett, who was relieved of his duties after a 4-11 start to the season. Enter Sean Payton, whose offenses ranked in the top 10 in expected points added per play every season between 2006 and 2020. They also added help on the offensive line in Ben Powers, who ranked second among guards with an 86.7 PFF pass-blocking grade last year, and Mike McGlinchey, who has earned PFF grades above 70.0 in four of his five seasons in the league.

The Broncos don’t have terrible playmakers, with Jerry Jeudy coming off the highest-graded season of his three-year career, earning a 77.9 PFF receiving grade, and Courtland Suttonearning a 75.8 PFF receiving grade since entering the league. Denver also added Oklahoma’s Marvin Mims in the second round of the draft, with Mims one of just three college receivers to record 600 or more receiving yards on throws 20-plus yards downfield last year. The combination of that, and the addition of Payton, gives Wilson the best chance possible at bouncing back in 2023.

Listed in bold in that snippet is a pretty impressive coaching statistic. How many coaches on the top-10 coaches list have something they could match with? Certainly not all.

Then again, perhaps PFF would have listed Wilson regardless, for any QB who no longer had to have Nathaniel Hackett in charge of everything certainly would be in line for a turnaround.

Or maybe, during these dog days of summer awaiting training camp, some things are more about clicks than content. Regardless, as Broncos Country are among those waiting until training camp, maybe this can be used as an opportunity to pass the time and curse a website for underselling the new coach.


Is Sean Payton a top-10 coach in the NFL?

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