Sean Payton’s ire with Russell Wilson puts the relationship between coach and goalkeeper back in the spotlight

Sean Payton’s ire with Russell Wilson puts the relationship between coach and goalkeeper back in the spotlight

(Editor’s note: This is an excerpt from Mike Sandow’s Choice VI dated December 18, 2023.)

Sean Payton attacks the middle Russell Wilson, who was on the bench, then suggested he was just annoyed with the conduct of the game, sparked all sorts of speculation.

It’s hard to blame Payton for losing his cool when the officials cleared a Broncos touchdown with an offensive offsides call that seemed untenable. In the words of one former coach, officials were “out of their minds” looking for penalties tied to Philadelphia’s thrilling games.

It’s hard to understand why Payton would direct so much anger toward the quarterback.

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Sean Payton downplays sideline clash with Russell Wilson

The nature of Payton’s relationship with Wilson faded into the background during a five-game winning streak fueled by opponent turnovers. And with Denver losing two of its past three games, including a 42-17 loss to Detroit on Saturday, tensions appear to be heating up again. The topic is captivating because the Broncos must decide after the season whether to fully guarantee another $37 million in Wilson’s contract.

Digging into Payton’s media sessions during the season turned up a couple of somewhat positive statements regarding the quarterback he inherited, but not much. This doesn’t necessarily mean the coach and quarterback are headed toward divorce, but Payton seems good at leaving the audience wondering, which is a departure from the way he handled Drew Brees during his tenure in New Orleans.

Some of this may just be an old school approach to motivation and control. But the disdain Payton showed for Wilson early in the season and again on the sideline Saturday was evident.

While it’s possible Wilson suggested that Payton should have initiated the restart challenge or should have gone for it on fourth down instead of attempting a field goal, which prompted an angry reaction from Payton, two coaches familiar with the period offered… Wilson in Seattle is another possibility. They noted that Wilson changed his plays in Seattle to put himself in rhythm, and that if he had changed Payton’s plays during the drive in question, the coach would have made a strong judgment call.

Another coach said: “I don’t think Sean owes anyone there, so he’ll tell everyone when he’s angry. He wasn’t that angry all the time in New Orleans. They were winning.”

(Photo: RJ Sangusti/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)


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(Tags for translation) Denver Broncos

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