Skip to main content

History suggests Sean Payton can revitalize Russell Wilson, Broncos

In oh so many ways, the Denver Broncos' 2022 season was a calamity.

Nathanial Hackett became just the second head coach since 1980 to be fired prior to the end of his first season as the Russell Wilson-quarterbacked offense flopped.

Enter Sean Payton, who arrives in Denver with a Super Bowl victory, nine playoff appearances, seven division titles and 15 seasons of head coaching experience to his resume.

Can Payton revitalize Wilson and the Broncos? History suggests he can.

The Broncos traded a 2023 first-round pick and a 2024 second-round selection to the New Orleans Saints for Payton and a 2024 third-rounder. Payton is the fifth head coach to be included in a trade for a first-round pick since 1970, according to NFL Research.

Three of the previous four coaches, per NFL Research, led their new teams to a Super Bowl triumph within three seasons -- Don Shula (traded from Colts to Dolphins), Bill Belichick (Jets to Patriots) and Jon Gruden (Raiders to Buccaneers).

The fourth was Bill Parcells, who was traded from the Patriots to the Jets, and he led New York to a winning record in his first season, just as Shula and Gruden did for their respective squads. Gruden and Shula took it a step further, guiding their clubs to the postseason in their debut seasons.

Payton's individual coaching chronicle should also whet the optimism of Broncos fans.

In his first season helming the Saints, Payton piloted New Orleans to a 10-6 record, an NFC South Division title, and a trip to the NFC Championship Game. Leading Payton's offense was the 6-foot Drew Brees, who earned All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors that year.

Now Payton has his sights set on revamping the 5-foot-11 Wilson's career.

Another, albeit simple, indicator that Wilson will improve from his 2022 campaign is that he posted career-low marks in an assortment of metrics: 4-11 record, 16.9 points per game, 60.5 completion percentage, 16-11 touchdown-interception ratio, 84.4 pass rating.

Improvement from Wilson and the Broncos should be in the forecast for Denver -- at least, that's what history suggests.

Related Content