Mark Kiszla: How much time does Russell Wilson have to show coach Sean Payton he's the right QB for Broncos?

Mark Kiszla, The Denver Post on

Published in Football

A slimmed-down Russell Wilson might be watching what he eats at the dinner table, but the words that come out of the quarterback’s mouth are still as sweet as sunshine, lollipops and rainbows.

With Sean Payton large and in charge as the Broncos coach, Wilson is no longer the entitled DangerRuss we saw last season, at least not out on the football field during spring practice. He is No. 3 in orange and blue. Wilson is just one of the guys, on a team that has a lot of guys with much to prove.

“I think Sean is one of the best coaches ever to coach this game,” Wilson said Thursday when asked his impression of the new boss. “He’s intense, he’s focused, he’s such a great teacher of the game.”

After observing the old-school way Payton conducts his football business and hanging out with him at a Nuggets game, Wilson’s initial impression of his new coach is as warm as freshly baked cookies.

But is the admiration mutual?

I’m not so certain. My guess: Although Wilson has won more than 100 games as a starting quarterback in the NFL, he must earn Payton’s trust and confidence.


While Payton undoubtedly respects the Super Bowl ring and 308 touchdown passes on Wilson’s resume, this is a curmudgeonly coach who cares only what you’ve done for him lately, as Broncos kicker Brandon McManus rudely found out this week, when the door at the team headquarters hit him in the hindquarters.

Wilson and the guys were out in the sun on a beautiful spring morning, learning the new offense being installed by Payton to replace that hot mess designed by coach Nathaniel Hackett a year ago.

The most direct way back to the playoffs for the Broncos is for Wilson to drive the bandwagon with the firm, guiding hand of his new coach showing the 34-year-old quarterback that his disastrous 2022 season wasn’t the beginning of the end to a beautiful NFL career.

But should Wilson struggle with the new offense or demonstrate recent signs his athleticism has slipped are irreversible? Unlike a year ago, I’m guessing this coach won’t let Wilson ride the Broncos into the ground.


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