Money talks, baby! The mighty Walmart heirs who headline the Denver Broncos' new ownership group clearly spared no expense — including draft capital — to get their guy. After the catastrophic, short-lived tenure of Nathaniel Hackett, Denver desperately needed a credible head coach. You won't find one with more clout than Sean Payton, whose first order of business is to salvage whatever remains of Russell Wilson as a quarterback.
If you can even believe it, Denver was actually zeroed in on 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans on Tuesday before he instead committed to the Texans, leading the Broncos to pivot back to Payton:
Not that Ryans isn't an awesome candidate, but color me shocked at Denver's initial preference — especially given Russ' issues. Houston must've gotten a hell of a get if Ryan made that strong of an impression on Broncos brass.
Anyway, Payton valmorphanized one Short King in Drew Brees into a championship-winning QB for the Saints. Not to take anything away from what Russ accomplished in Seattle, least of which his Lombardi Trophy, but if 2022 was any indication, he ain't that dude anymore.
Either that or Hackett was so submerged in a leachate-flooded bathysphere of his own creation that the stench and liquid waste seeping out of the coach's every pore was overflowing from his office where he drafted up odious game plans and into the private suite DangeRuss hyperbaric chamber naps in at 13655 E Broncos Pkwy.
Yeah, I thought Broncos HQ would have a catchier address to help me land the plane on that train of thought a little sooner. Like 1 Broncos Drive or something. Alas, Google told me it's a five-number behemoth and now I'm wasting words explaining that.
Back to Sean Payton. What a price Denver paid for him and Russ, by the way.
It's no secret Payton has a big ego, but he's earned it. Part of me wonders about a potential power struggle with GM George Paton. Oh well. He's a schematic genius who, lest we forget, scrounged out a 9-8 record in his last season in New Orleans with Jameis Winston, Taysom Hill, Trevor Siemian and even Ian Fucking Book (one start, a guaranteed loss) at quarterback.
Had the Saints managed to construct better defenses for Payton when Brees was in his true prime, they might've won multiple championships together. That's not even to mention the no-call pass interference in the NFC Championship Game several years back and the Minneapolis Miracle at New Orleans' expense.
But WOW, what a fascinating new chapter for Payton. Going to an iconic franchise with an exceptional defense and plenty of skill position talent had to be selling points. The big question mark is Russell Wilson, who shares an AFC West division with Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert and whomever Josh McDaniels deems worthy to be the next Raiders QB of the future.
Mahomes has hosted the AFC Championship Game five years in a row. If the Chargers can stop their incessant Chargering, Herbert should have them legit contending with Mahomes' Chiefs for the division title more often than not.
Since Wilson is a far different QB than Brees, Payton needs to build a scheme that suits his new signal-caller's strengths. Big issue: Wilson doesn't move nearly as dynamically as he once did, and he managed only 16 TD passes to 11 INTs this past year for a quite bad 84.4 passer rating. I'm dubious that Russ has much left in the tank, yet if anyone can pull it out of him — and perhaps get him to be a little less phony and a better leader, etc. — Sean Payton seems like the man for the job.