Sean Payton is respected league-wide as one of the game’s great play callers and offensive minds. It’s one of the major reasons he was hired to turn the tide in the Mile High City. Moreover, it’s a profound a source of optimism for fans hoping Russell Wilson and his teammates can turn it around on that side of the ball this coming season.
Payton’s aerial attack prowess is well-documented, but Broncos Country shouldn’t forget that he did a masterful job coordinating his rushing attacks with the New Orleans Saints. In order for Wilson and the offense to be at their best, the Denver Broncos will need to forge a formidable running game in 2023. That’s something Payton spoke at length about after today’s practice.
“I think it has to be part of our DNA,” remarked Payton. “We felt that way in New Orleans, as well. I think the two greatest allies for a good quarterback player are a running game and good defense.”
The proof is in the pudding. During his career with the New Orleans Saints, he crafted twelve top 10 offenses in points scored. Additionally, there were 11 seasons where his rushing attacks ranked top 10 in total rushing touchdowns and five in total rushing yards. In fact, many of them were top five across all aforementioned categories.
Backs like Alvin Kamara, Mark Ingram, Pierre Thomas, Chris Ivory, and Darren Sproles all flourished in his system. Much like the Mike Shanahan offenses of years past, whoever Payton plugged in at running back seemed to endure success. That should carry over to his new journey in Denver.
He favors utilizing multiple backs with different skill sets, which lines up well with the Broncos’ current crop at the position. A healthy Javonte Williams paired with Samaje Perine should pay big dividends for the Broncos. But it won’t just be on them, expect young players like Tyler Badie and Jaleel McLaughlin to carve themselves a role in that regard as well.
“That’s going to be important to what we do as long as I’m here. I just think it’s that important to winning in our league.”
The Broncos solidified their offensive line bringing in Ben Powers and Mike McGlinchey in free agency. Their additions have added much needed talent to a positional group that has struggled for several years. Another signing that should help propel the Broncos’ rushing attack to greater heights was veteran tight end Chris Manhertz. Payton spoke highly of the long-time pro this afternoon and believes he will be a focal point on in the run game.
“I think in order to run the ball, it’s hard to do without a blocking tight end or someone that can handle the ‘D-gap.’ We found Chris in New Orleans on a free agent tryout with no football experience,” stated Payton.
After spending two years in New Orleans, the Carolina Panthers eventually signed Manhertz from their practice squad and played five seasons for them. He spent the last two years with the Jacksonville Jaguars, before reuniting with Payton in Denver this spring. That’s quite the journey for the former basketball standout from The Bronx who had never played a down of football in his life.
“I would say within the last five years, he has been one of the better run-blocking tight ends,” stated Payton. “You know exactly what you’re getting from him which allows you to gameplan easier on Wednesday and Thursday nights.”
If the Broncos stay true to their historical roots [it’s in their DNA] and if all goes well—they will have one of the most prolific rushing attacks in the National Football League this season.