Jul 28, 2023 - Sports

The Broncos' rebuild begins under Sean Payton

Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton after training camp at Centura Health Training Center on July 26 in Centennial. Photo: RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton is setting a clear standard for his new team.

What he's saying: "I'm going to be pissed off if this is not a playoff team," Payton told USA Today this week.

Why it matters: Payton is setting expectations high for his first year as head coach — for him, anything but a postseason berth will mean another losing season.

Reality check: The team hasn't been to the playoffs since the 2015 season, when they capped off the year with the franchise's third Super Bowl win.

State of play: Eight years on, the Broncos couldn't be further from those glory days.

  • As they start their public training camp Friday at Centura Health Training Center in Englewood, players and fans who saw this team put together a forgettable 5-12 record last season are hungry for a bounceback.

Zoom in: Everyone will expect more from superstar quarterback Russell Wilson's second year following a poor start to his career in Denver.

  • The pressure is on after Wilson, 35, faced the first double-digit loss record of his career last season.
  • He will need to gel with Payton to improve an offense that was hard to watch at times.

Threat level: Wins will hinge on Wilson's ability to improve, something insiders say is possible — but it's not a rosy picture.

  • "I expect him to be better than he was in 2022, because I obviously don't think it can get any worse," ESPN's Harry Douglas, a former NFL player, said recently.

The intrigue: Payton, who won a Super Bowl as a head coach of the New Orleans Saints in 2010, told USA Today this week he would do the "opposite" of everything he heard happened last season.

  • Some NFL observers saw that as a shot against former head coach Nathaniel Hackett, who was fired in December.

Between the lines: Running back Javonte Williams looks poised to return much sooner than originally anticipated after suffering a season-ending injury last year, reports DNVR.

Of note: Defensive lineman Eyioma Uwazurike made headlines this week for the wrong reasons, facing an indefinite suspension for violating the league's gambling policy.

  • Uwazurike played in eight games last year and was likely to earn more playing time this season, according to ESPN.

Be smart: The public practices at training camp are free, but for the first time, fans have to get tickets for entry.

What's next: The Broncos' season begins Sept. 10 against archrivals Las Vegas Raiders.

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