Denver Broncos: Skating on thin ice in the AFC West
Best Case: Sean Payton Fixes Russell Wilson
The Broncos doubled down on their blockbuster Russell Wilson trade last offseason by sending multiple picks to New Orleans for head coach Sean Payton. As risky as these investments are, especially when you add up all the assets used to acquire the duo, it will prove to be a worthwhile roll of the dice for Denver.
Wilson suffered the worst season of his career in Year 1 with the Broncos. He often looked lost and lacked his trademark confidence. Nathanial Hackett did little to get his quarterback in advantageous positions, so a large chunk of the blame should be laid at his feet.
After firing Hackett, Wilson is now being guided by one of the most brilliant offensive minds to ever live — Sean Payton. The Super Bowl-winning head coach consistently had the Saints contending for division and conference titles, a stark contrast from the dismal play that plagued the franchise before Payton’s arrival.
Citing his success working with Drew Brees, Payton is ready to build an entire system around Wilson. While the two quarterbacks possess a different skillset, Payton can mimic many of the same philosophies given Wilson’s similar size to Brees.
The two are tied together at the hip heading into 2023. Endless draft capital and hundreds of millions of dollars was the price tag for a Wilson-Payton pairing. If the duo brings a Super Bowl title to Mile High, it will be worth every penny (and pick).
Worst Case: Russell Wilson Is Benched By Season’s End
On the other side of the coin, there is a realistic path toward Russell Wilson floundering in 2023 again. Quarterback is a position that relies heavily on confidence, an area Wilson severely suffered with in Year 1 with Denver.
Payton should, in theory, re-energize Wilson and light a fire under the veteran signal-caller. However, Payton is known for speaking his mind and doing what is best for the team. If he sees Wilson as damaged goods, all it takes is one pull of the plug to send the former Seahawk to the bench.
Valid excuses in 2022 will slowly disintegrate and give way to valid criticisms in 2023. Wilson has defied the odds throughout his career, but Payton benching him would go down as the final nail in his Broncos’ coffin.