New Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton said Monday that Russell Wilson’s personal quarterback coach, Jake Heaps, won’t have access to the team’s facility this year.
“That’s foreign to me. That’s not going to take place here. I’m unfamiliar with it,” Payton said at his introductory press conference, according to Albert Breer of MMQB. “Our staff will be here, our players will be here, and that’ll be it.”
Wilson, who’s coming off a disappointing 2022 season, brought Heaps with him after joining Denver in a blockbuster trade from the Seattle Seahawks.
Payton also praised Wilson on Monday, describing him as “an extremely hard worker,” per Zac Stevens of DNVR, and expressing optimism about his performance based on the end of the 2022 campaign.
“Obviously, it wasn’t the type of season he wanted to have,” the coach said, according to Andrew Mason of Denver Sports. “I do feel like the last couple of weeks, we saw more of what we were expecting and accustomed to.”
The 59-year-old coach is also optimistic the Broncos won’t repeat their disaster 2022 season in his first year in charge.
“I think it’s realistic for our fan base to expect a completely different type of culture,” Payton said when asked about the team’s chances of competing in 2023, according to Stevens. “It’s realistic for them to expect us to win.”
Denver entered 2022 with high expectations after hiring Nathaniel Hackett as head coach and acquiring Wilson in a blockbuster trade. However, the season ended in major disappointment. Hackett was fired after 15 games and Wilson posted career lows in wins (four), completion percentage (60.5%), touchdown passes (16), and passer rating (84.4). Denver ended the year 5-12.
Payton spent last season as a studio analyst for Fox after stepping down as the New Orleans Saints’ sideline boss following the 2021 campaign. Because he was still under contract with the Saints, Denver reportedly sent New Orleans a 2023 first-round pick (29th overall) and a 2024 second-round selection in exchange for Payton and a 2024 third-round choice.
He interviewed with multiple clubs with head coaching vacancies, though he noted that ownership was a major factor in his return and praised the Broncos’ brass for their efforts.
“The first day I could be interviewed, Greg (Penner), George (Paton), and (Condoleezza Rice) were there at breakfast time. I knew that meant something,” Payton said.
He added: “What I was looking for, I knew existed in one place.”
Payton is regarded as one of the brightest offensive minds in the NFL. He coached the Saints to a 152-89 record with nine playoff appearances and one Super Bowl victory across 15 seasons.
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