Skip to main content

Former Broncos GM John Elway believes Sean Payton is 'perfect fit' for Denver

John Elway is no longer officially a part of the Denver Broncos organization. Still, his legendary status as both a quarterback and general manager means his shadow will forever be cast on the Mile High City.

Speaking to Lionel Bienvenu of ABC 7 Denver from the American Century Championship golf tournament in Lake Tahoe, Nevada, Elway glowed about the Broncos' potential under new coach Sean Payton.

"I am excited. He's a perfect fit for where we are right now, where the Broncos are right now. Obviously, he has a lot of skins on the wall," Elway said on Thursday. "He won a Super Bowl before and won a ton of football games. I don't think there could have been a better fit. I think he will be great."

Denver hasn't been to the playoffs since Peyton Manning's final season in 2015 when the Broncos hoisted the franchise's third Lombardi Trophy -- Elway was part of all three. Payton became the Broncos' fourth coach in seven seasons when he was hired this offseason.

"It's going to take some time with a new system, new coaches, even though the spring was very good," Elway noted. "The expectations are up there. But they have calmed the expectations compared to last year, which is good. We have to do better with injuries. Hopefully we can stay healthy."

The biggest piece of the puzzle is Russell Wilson, who struggled mightily in his first season in Denver. The quarterback position was always the trickiest for Elway during his decade-long run managing the Broncos front office (2011-2020). Outside of landing Manning, Elway's Broncos struggled to find consistency under center. Denver started 13 different QBs in Elway's final five seasons as GM.

The hope in Denver is that Payton's arrival will immediately refresh Wilson and get him back to playing at a Pro Bowl level.

"Sean has a great feel for the QB position. He's so knowledgeable on the offensive side. I think he knows what Russell will do the best. Like every good football team, we have to try to run the football and run it successfully. And if we do that, it gives Russell a much better chance to be successful in the passing game," Elway said.

"(Wilson) is such a positive guy. I think he's excited about it. With what was going on last year, a lot of different things, Sean brings in so much experience. I think Russell is looking forward to that coach to put him in the best position to be successful. ... It was a tough year for him last year. But he's positive and tough. He will bounce back, and I think he's going to have a much better year this year."

If Wilson doesn't bounce back, things could quickly get awkward in Denver.

Related Content