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Sean Payton on postseason elimination: ‘It is what it is’

Following a W over the LA Chargers, the head coach was asked about postseason disappointment, Jarrett Stidham, and, of course, Russell Wilson.

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Denver Broncos Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

It’s a bittersweet afternoon for Broncos Country. On one hand, we’re celebrating a New Year’s Eve victory over division rival Los Angeles Chargers; on the other, we’ve been eliminated from playoff contention. The latter is not exactly the way you want to start a new year, but we’re doing better this season than last season, or the season before that, or...

You get the idea — the Denver Broncos are making progress, and I think that’s worth quite a bit.

Head coach Sean Payton discussed some of the mixed feelings about the win, saying, “It is what it is. I mean, look, we kind of had that opportunity [to win] a week ago and then ‘ugh’.”

Payton reiterated that making the playoffs is a goal at the beginning of every season, which makes yesterday’s outcome particularly “disappointing,” but that they’re now focusing on getting their ninth win.

“Obviously a good win to get, hard-fought win,” he noted, taking inventory of some of the highlights from yesterday’s game, as well as things they need to work on for January 7th.

“I thought our defense played extremely well. We had one takeaway. We stopped them on a fake punt,” he recalled, “Offensively, we did enough but the penalties—the two false starts on the one-yard line—we can get that cleaned up.”

On Jarrett Stidham’s performance, the coach was complimentary, describing him as “collected, calm,” and “playing with really good poise.”

“He felt experienced relative to a guy who hasn’t had as many minutes maybe as some others,” Payton shared, “You certainly didn’t feel that during the course of the game. I thought he was efficient in and out of the huddle.”

Of course, conversation wasn’t going to stay on just the game. Eventually the questions shifted back to the elephant in the room: Russell Wilson. More specifically, Payton was asked what he thought about Wilson’s comments on Friday.

“You asked that question on Friday,” he reminded them, adding that once the season is over, they’ll be able to ask questions to the people in charge.

The coach also stressed that Russ has been “fantastic” this week. He called out the narrative that there’s tension between himself and the quarterback, saying, “Look, I think this idea that he and I, or we, don’t have a good relationship, or he’s not a fit, all of that stuff comes from people further away from our program.”

Payton insisted that, as expected, Wilson “approached this week like we expected—like a pro.”

I want to give a big Happy New Year! to everyone reading. What are some of your reflections of this past season? What changes do you hope to see the Broncos make as we head into 2024?