It didn’t take long for new Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton to ruffle some feathers. Payton was brought in after the Broncos finished a disappointing 5-12 last season. Nathaniel Hackett was fired in season and was widely criticized for his clock management and coaching style. Payton decided to pile on that narrative recently as he had some choice words to say about Hackett’s coaching job. You could argue that Payton went too far with what he said but he was hired to change the culture in Denver. The Broncos and Russell Wilson are looking to put the 2022 season behind them. Will the change in leadership bring out the best in Wilson? Let’s break that down further as we offer a record prediction for the 2023-2024 season.
Broncos running back Javonte Williams had an impressive rookie season in Denver. Williams piled up 1,219 scrimmage yards and 7 total touchdowns in his first season. He could be seen regularly breaking tackles and proved to be built for the NFL. In fact, Williams had 31 broken tackles his rookie season and was the league leader in broken-plus tackles missed at 17.2%. Big things were expected for Williams in his 2nd season but he unfortunately went down with a serious ACL injury in week 4. Williams now seems to be ahead of schedule as he is already practicing again for the Broncos and could see some pre-season reps. This is great news for Denver fans as new head coach Payton will be able to get the best out of Williams going forward.
As insurance, the Broncos brought in running back Samaje Perine this offseason. If you followed the Cincinnati Bengals closely you know Perine played a pivotal role for them. Now that Williams looks to be healthy, Perine will provide an extra jolt to the running game for Denver. Perine is somewhat similar to Williams in that he rarely goes down on the first touch. He just doesn’t have the breakaway speed that Williams has. Expect the running game to be the strength of the Broncos offense.
There were already questions about the Broncos wide receiver position going into next season. Unfortunately, the group took a big hit to their depth as receivers K.J. Hamler and Tim Patrick are now out indefinitely. The Broncos will now lean heavily on Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton in 2023. Jeudy has shown flashes of greatness but lacks consistency and Sutton hasn’t been the same since his breakout 2019 season. The Broncos also drafted Marvin Mims Jr. from Oklahoma with hopes to bolster the position. With the recent injuries, Mims will now be relied on for a heavy role in Denver.
Sean Payton will have an impact in Denver this season. How much of an impact is yet to be seen but the offense should be vastly improved. The problem for the Broncos is Russell Wilson is not the same player as he was in Seattle. He can no longer rely on his legs to extend plays and this causes more turnovers. The key for him going forward is to learn how to play from the pocket similar to what Drew Brees did in New Orleans. It will be fascinating to watch how this all plays out in 2023.
2023 Record: 8-9 (3rd in the Division)