A lot of these teams have started already going through their process of evaluating players and coaches. They’ve started to look at the teams they’re scheduled to play in 2023 and have an idea of what is going on there. I took a look at the Denver Broncos, and I picked a few things I think can really help them.
Obviously, offensively they struggled a lot this past season. They averaged 16.9 points per game, which was last in the league. They only converted 29.1 percent on third downs. And they gave up 63 sacks, which was also the worst in the league
I think a lot of those things will change when Sean Payton gets in there. He’s not going to let the quarterback get sacked 63 times. He’s going to change it up and do the things that he’s so good at with play-action passes. And you look at Russell Wilson, he’s had so much success in the past when he had a running game with some of those backs they had out there in Seattle. Latavius Murray averaged 4.2 yards per carry last year, but the Broncos just had such a hard time sustaining drives because of the penalties and the sacks.
I know Sean will come in and make them a lot more disciplined in those areas. They’ve got some weapons as well. When I was coaching the Vikings, we played Courtland Sutton. He’s a big, strong, physical receiver who catches the ball great. They’ve got Jerry Jeudy as well and a bunch of guys who have a chance to get down the field. And Sean’s always been a good tight ends coach, even when he was the Giants’ offensive coordinator in the early 2000s. I think he’ll try to do that and shore up the offensive line. That part right there, with the reduction of penalties and sacks, will fix a lot of areas.
Then you look at the Broncos’ special teams, where they struggled a lot. Brandon McManus was 28-of-36 on field goals. He only missed three inside of 50 yards, but he was 8-for-13 from 50-plus, so they’re going to need better efficiency. Denver was also 25th in opponents’ starting position. So with the penalties and the sacks backing them up, then punting the ball poorly down the field, opponents have shorter fields. I think those things will be shored up as well.
Then, on defense, they only had 36 sacks last year. I think they need to get some rushers in there. They’ve got really good corners and a really good safety, Justin Simmons, who had six interceptions last year. I think those things will come forward.
The part that’s going to be a little stretch for Sean is that they don’t have very many anyway, so they’re going to have to a great job in free agency. I think they’re going to have to add some depth to the defense in order to help the special teams out, and then Sean will do the things that he does best to get Wilson to play at a much higher level.”
“I agree with what you’re saying in that with Sean going in there, he’ll show the ability to fix the offense, his ability to help Russell Wilson get back to playing the way he can play, and get back away from the line of scrimmage,” Coach Lewis responded. “Sean did so well with Drew Brees in order to help him be able to have great vision and throws down the field where he had better sight and better vision. So, I agree with that part.
And then the defense, although they had great stats in some areas, when you don’t score a lot on offense, people don’t have to score a lot against you.”
“I actually thought about that a lot too,” Coach Zimmer added. “How much are these stats pumped up because the other team knows they only have to score 20 points?
The other thing about Wilson too is that in his career, he’s always been a really good deep ball thrower and a really good outside the numbers thrower on some of the seven routes, deep overs and things like that. And I do think that Sean, with his play action here — he’s got the gap pass and the counter pass — some of those block ’em up plays that they use and that he’s always done will help that as well. And then if he gets the running game going a little bit better, I think they’ll sustain drives much, much better than they did a year ago.”