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Sean Payton already seems to have a plan to fix Russell Wilson: How Broncos coach plans to improve QB’s game

With Sean Payton now officially heading to Denverthe biggest question revolving around his first season with the Broncos is whether he’ll be able to fix Russell Wilson.

The former Seahawks quarterback was traded to Denver in a blockbuster deal during the 2022 offseason, and although Denver had high hopes for its new franchise quarterback, Wilson didn’t come close to living up to those hopes.

During the 2022 season, Wilson ranked 31st in completion percentage (60%) and 27th in passer rating (84.4) for a Broncos offense that ranked dead last in the league in scoring.

If Payton can figure out how to get Wilson back on the right track, the Broncos could be in for a quick turnaround. Payton was asked about Wilson on Tuesday and said his plan is to try and take some pressure off his new quarterback so that he doesn’t feel like he has to do everything.

“A hard worker and has played at a high level and won a lot of games,” Payton said of Wilson, via “The pressure is on us to put a good running game together and reduce the degree of difficulty in his position. I’m excited about him.”

Payton offered several other details about how he fixed Wilson during an interview a few months ago. Back in October, Payton made an appearance on “The Colin Cowherd Show,” and it’s worth looking back on that interview now that he’s been hired by the Broncos.

During the show, Payton was asked how long it might take to get Wilson back to his old form and how he would fix things if he were coaching the one-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback.

“You correct flaws immediately, and then we don’t worry about how long the process is going to take,” Payton said. “In other words, I’d want a cut-up today of all of Russell’s pass plays of 30 or more yards from the field and I’d want to see, ‘Are there some schemes that he felt very comfortable with?'”

Payton also said he’d take a close look at what made Wilson successful in Seattle.

“I know they did a great job in Seattle of bringing him off of a naked boot and then pulling up,” Payton said. “And then we all saw that throwback to Tyler Lockett across the field where the ball traveled 60 yards in the air.”

It’s unclear which specific throw Payton is referring to, but Wilson did connect with Lockett for a TD pass that traveled roughly 60 yards in the air during Week 1 of the 2021 season.

Of course, you can’t just live on the long ball in the NFL, which is why Payton would also do his homework on Wilson’s red zone abilities.

“I’d like to look at another film of his red zone touchdown passes inside the 20,” Payton said. “What I’m asking for from assistants is, I’m asking for some of his greatest hits, and to make sure that we have those song lyrics available, and if not, let’s put them in.”

With those comments, Payton definitely gives you an idea of ​​how he’ll likely start building his offense in Denver. Essentially, it sounds like Payton plans to look at all of the strengths Wilson has shown over the course of his career and make those part of the offense.

During his time in New Orleans, Payton’s offense thrived thanks to Drew Brees, who made quick decisions while making almost all of his throws from the pocket, which isn’t exactly what Wilson is known for. That being said, a big reason why Payton likely took the job is that he sees a QB in Wilson who can be repaired and molded into a quarterback who can run Payton’s offensive scheme.

The situation Payton has in Denver is actually somewhat similar to what he had during his first year in New Orleans from an on-field perspective. The Saints were coming off a 3-13 record in 2005 when Payton took over. At the time, the Saints took a huge risk by signing Brees, who was coming off a serious shoulder injury that scared several other teams away from trying to sign him that offseason. The gamble paid off, though, as Payton and Brees led the Saints to the NFC Championship game in their first season together.

This time around, Payton is taking over a team that went 5-12 last season that will be quarterbacked by a guy in Wilson who no one seems to believe in anymore. Like Brees, Wilson will likely go into his first season with Payton with a chip on his shoulder to prove that he can still play.

Speaking of Wilson, he seems pretty excited at the possibility of teaming up with Payton.

“I’ve been around Sean, obviously at the Pro Bowl,” Wilson said after Denver’s Week 18 win over the Chargers, via Broncoswire. “I’ve been around him across the league, and I’ve played against them quite a bit. He’s one of the world’s best, obviously, a guy who has coached a Hall of Fame quarterback in Drew Brees, who was one of my closest friends and the guy that got to know across the league and so many other great players.”

Wilson hasn’t done any interviews since Payton was hired, but it’s safe to say that he was probably very much on board with the Broncos’ decision.