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Mark Schlereth: Broncos big winners of Sean Payton trade

Mike Roberts BVM Sports Journalist
Mike Roberts

DENVER (BVM) – Following a disastrous 2022 campaign by the Denver Broncos, landing sought-after head coach Sean Payton became the sole priority for the organization as the weeks went on. 

With an inability to get former head coach Nathaniel Hackett on the same page as quarterback Russell Wilson throughout the year, the hope is that Payton will be able to bring the best out of one of the league’s most heralded moves from an offseason ago. 

The move, which will cost the Broncos their first-round pick in the upcoming draft and a pick-swap of their second-round pick for the New Orleans Saints’ 2024 third-round pick, comes with some major assets going the other way. While that may look like a lot to give up for a head coach, some around the league believe that the former Saints coach will be worth far more to the franchise.

“Sean [Payton] is going to make sure that Russell [Wilson] is doing the things that Russell can do,” former Broncos Pro Bowl and Super Bowl champion guard Mark Schlereth said. “Sean Payton is worth far more than the 29th overall pick and the swap of a second for a third. I think this is a no-brainer, absolutely, unbelievably great move by the Denver Broncos to get Sean Payton to be their head coach.”

With a five-year contract, Payton will be tasked with bringing a more stable environment back to the Broncos organization after multiple sideline arguments and confrontations could be seen live throughout the season. While getting things in order remains one of the team’s top priorities, getting the best of Wilson still headlines the list.

“One of the reasons I know [Payton will] do well with Russell is because I had this meeting with him and I asked him, ‘How do you go about game-planning and how do you go about attacking a defense’s weakness?’” Schlereth said. “He goes, ‘Well first, I attack a defensive weakness if I see a juicy matchup that I absolutely love. You got to also understand what do I expose by attacking that weakness? The thing you have to understand is the No. 1 priority for any coach, and this is where most young coaches miss it is, you have to mitigate your own weakness. So if I’m attacking a juicy weakness but it leaves the tight end 1-on-1 with a defensive end that you can’t block then I have to get away from it.’ 

“What happens to most young coaches is most young coaches will say, hey, listen, this is such a juicy matchup you just have to hold up on this play. And you know what happens, strip sack, fumble, touchdown the other way. More games are lost than won. So, your No. 1 priority is to mitigate potential weaknesses.”

Payton has been labeled as one of the top offensive minds in the game over his time in the league, leading quarterback Drew Brees and the Saints to a Super Bowl victory in 2010. With the inability last season for Wilson to find any rhythm in Hackett’s offense, Schlereth believes that the incoming coach will be able to install plays and concepts that have worked for the former Seahawks quarterback in the past, resulting in what should be a vastly improved offense in 2023.

“Sean Payton is going to look at Russell Wilson and what he has been successful at… in Seattle and what he didn’t do well this year,” Schlereth said. “And you know what he will do? He’ll pair out the stuff he didn’t do well and he’ll put in the stuff he can do. They’ll live there. They’ll run the same thing over, and over, and over again out of different personnel groupings, out of different motions, out of different formations, and he will beat that stuff to a pulp.”