Skip to content

Broncos' Payton: 'I'm going to be pissed off if this is not a playoff team'

Matthew Stockman / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton has lofty expectations for his first season in the Mile High City.

"I'm going to be pissed off if this is not a playoff team," Payton said, according to Jarrett Bell of USA TODAY Sports.

The Broncos are coming off a 5-12 campaign - their third season with five or fewer wins since 2017 and sixth consecutive year with a losing record.

"Winning," Payton added. "It's the salve for the whole organization. Makes everyone feel better."

Payton brings a 152-89 record as a head coach and a Super Bowl XLIV ring from his time with the New Orleans Saints.

Atop Payton's to-do list is working with quarterback Russell Wilson, whom the team signed to a five-year, $245-million extension last offseason after trading for the former Seattle Seahawk.

The 34-year-old struggled in his first season with Denver, throwing just 16 touchdowns against 11 interceptions while being sacked a league-high 55 times. Wilson finished with a 4-11 record as a starter with career lows in touchdowns, passer rating, and completion percentage.

Much of that struggle has been attributed to former head coach Nathaniel Hackett. The Broncos let him go after just 15 games.

"Oh, man," Payton said regarding Wilson's struggles. "There's so much dirt around that. There's 20 dirty hands, for what was allowed, tolerated in the fricking training rooms, the meeting rooms. The offense. I don't know Hackett. A lot of people had dirt on their hands. It wasn't just Russell. He didn't just flip. He still has it. This B.S. that he hit a wall? Shoot, they couldn't get a play in. They were 29th in the league in pre-snap penalties on both sides of the ball."

Payton added that "it might have been one of the worst coaching jobs in the history of the NFL. That's how bad it was."

The on-field struggles were exacerbated by the team's marketing and promotional material leading up to the season. The Wilson-promoted "Broncos country, let's ride" slogan turned into a meme shared all over the internet after the team began struggling.

"It doesn't happen often where an NFL team or organization gets embarrassed," Payton said. "And that happened here. Part of it was their own fault, relative to spending so much (expletive) time trying to win the offseason - the PR, the pomp and circumstance, marching people around and all this stuff."

Payton has already made changes to the team in that department. The 59-year-old wants the team to focus on practicing and playing at the highest level.

"Everything I heard about last season, we're doing the opposite," said Payton. "We're not doing any of that. The Jets did that this year. You watch. 'Hard Knocks,' all of it. I can see it coming. Remember when (former Washington owner) Dan Snyder put that Dream Team together? I was at the Giants (in 2000). I was a young coach. I thought, 'How are we going to compete with them? Deion's (Sanders) there now.' That team won eight games or whatever. So, listen...just put the work in."

Daily Newsletter

Get the latest trending sports news daily in your inbox