Broncos bank on Sean Payton, Russell Wilson in rebound bid

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Broncos bank on Sean Payton, Russell Wilson in rebound bid


August 19, 2023; Santa Clara, California, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson (3) during halftime against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi’s Stadium.
Image: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Denver Broncos

2022 record: 5-12, last AFC West

Playoff picture: The Broncos have missed the playoffs seven straight seasons. Denver hired former Saints coach Sean Payton to put them in contention, but a rapid rebound might be more difficult in the competitive AFC West.

Biggest Week 1 question: A tumultuous 2022 created many questions. But the critical concerns really come down to answering this riddle … “Is Russ Cooked?”

Payton and quarterback Russell Wilson begin their partnership with a home game against the Las Vegas Raiders. Wilson’s debut will be heavily dissected. He flopped badly in his first season in the Mile High City and injuries at the WR position have piled up in August.

What’s new: Payton won a Super Bowl with the Saints and he’s adamant expectations are sky high. Tackle Mike McClinchey and guard Ben Powers were signed to pump up the offensive line, while Frank Clark and Zach Allen were added to improve the pass rush. Linebacker Drew Sanders, chosen in the third round, should contribute as a rookie and with injuries to Tim Patrick and Jerry Jeudy, second-round rookie receiver Marvin Mims Jr. might become vital. Running back Samaje Perine adds depth while Jarrett Stidham was signed to be Wilson’s backup.

They’re gone: Nathaniel Hackett went 4-11 last season before being fired with two games left. Defensive lineman Dre’Mont Jones had 22 sacks in four seasons but departed for the Seattle Seahawks. Guard Billy Turner left for the New York Jets.

On the money: Wilson was supposed to solidify the quarterback position and end the Denver playoff drought. Instead, he was one of the worst QBs in the NFL and the Broncos floundered. He received a five-year, $243 million extension from the Broncos. In short, a lot of money is tied into Wilson.

Get to know: Jeudy is just 24 years and was viewed as a player who could shine in Payton’s system. But a hamstring injury in late August is expected to cause him to miss the start of the season. Denver didn’t place him on short-term injured reserve, which is a clear signal they expect him to play at some point in September.

An ankle injury limited Jeudy to 15 games last season when he established career highs of 67 receptions, 972 yards and six touchdowns. That performance created optimism Jeudy could rise up with an even better campaign. Jeudy’s misfortune comes after Tim Patrick (Achilles) was lost for the season.

Vegas says: BetMGM has the Broncos at +105 to top 8.5 victories. Failure to reach that total will certainly continue the playoff drought.

—Field Level Media



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