When it comes to experiencing Sean Payton inheriting a football team, no one is more well-versed than former Saints quarterback Drew Brees.
Brees and Payton both arrived in New Orleans in 2006, and they took a squad that went 3-13 the year before to the NFC championship game, where they were beaten by the Bears. In the 2009 season, the Saints won the franchise’s first and only Super Bowl, with Brees and Payton still at the helm.
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The Broncos are looking to replicate that forumla in 2023. They traded for Payton the year after acquiring Russell Wilson. Despite a disastrous first season for Wilson, who was hampered by the poor coaching of Nathaniel Hackett, there is optimism in Denver.
Among the optimists is Brees himself, whom ESPN’s Ed Werder reported is extremely high on Denver’s hire of Payton.
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“He wouldn’t use the term ‘fixing,'” Werder said Thursday on “NFL Live.” “He described it as ‘ongoing skills development and improvement.’ And Brees indicated Wilson has to be willing to be coached hard, and work on his flaws … ‘If Russell goes in with the mindset that he’s learned everything he has to learn, this isn’t going to be a good fit.'”
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Brees also made an extremely bold prediction about Wilson’s future, given how strong his past is.
“Brees said these next seven or eight years are positioned to be the best of Wilson’s career,” Werder said. “And that’s because athletically and physically, Wilson’s as strong as he’s ever been, and he also has 11 years of experience and the mental and emotional benefits of that. To (Brees) . . . This is set up to be Russell Wilson’s prime, especially with Sean Payton going to build a system around him. This is a great opportunity for Russell Wilson.”
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Brees also said he spoke with Wilson before the hire, and said Wilson is excited to “spend the rest of his career with Sean Payton in Denver.”
Here’s my NFL Live report with Drew Brees using his 15 seasons with Sean Payton to provide a sense of what to expect as Payton becomes HC of the #Broncos and begins a partnership with Russell Wilson. Brees is insightful as usual. pic.twitter.com/gRut3pCEzd
— Ed Werder (@WerderEdESPN) February 2, 2023
Brees was 135-75 as a starter with Payton in his Saints career, and he broke multiple NFL passing records along the way. Although Wilson is inheriting Payton at a very different point in his career at 34, Brees still expects prolonged success from the Payton-Wilson duo in Denver, If Wilson allows himself to be coached.