Feb 12, 2023; Glendale, Arizona, US; Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton on the sidelines during Super Bowl LVII at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Sean Payton: Broncos, Russell Wilson expect scrutiny after losing season

New Broncos head coach Sean Payton began to put his plans for 2023 on the table over dinner with Russell Wilson.

“There was a group of people at our table, Joe Montana was at our table,” Payton said at the NFL Scouting Combine on Tuesday. “Russell was interested in where we’re going. I was looking forward to hearing from Joe Montana. Certainly for Russell’s standards and for Broncos standards, that wasn’t what was expected. We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us. When our offseason program begins, we’ll get a little bit more involved in how we see these roles developing for coaches, for players.”

Payton said his primary focus since returning to the NFL as a head coach has been on completing his coaching staff. He said Wilson has been in constant contact with former Saints quarterback Drew Brees, hoping to pick his brain about offensive philosophy and how to best focus his offseason training.

“Beyond people, every little detail matters. In an obsessive way,” Payton said of his plan to change the culture in Denver. “That has to exist in every other area of the building — equipment room, training room, cafeteria. Pretty soon then, the entire building moves in concert. And that’s pretty cool when that happens. It requires a little bit of unselfishness from all of us. If we’re all moving in one direction, chances are it’ll benefit all of us that are moving.”

Wilson, 34, was traded to the Broncos from the Seahawks after 10 seasons in Seattle. He signed a five-year, $245 million contract but had his worst statistical season.

The ramifications included Denver firing Nathaniel Hackett before the season ended and the Broncos paying a massive salary plus a first-round pick to the Saints to hire the 59-year-old Payton.

Revelations about Wilson having an office on the second floor of the team facility and using his own personal quarterbacks coach received a thumbs down from Payton upon his arrival. He said his comments have been overblown, but also serve as a reminder that scrutiny follows losing.

The Broncos went 5-12 and Wilson was 4-11 as the starter with 16 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

“That’s what happens when you lose, everything gets looked at closely,” Payton said. “And we’ll have a way of doing things. It’ll be what I’m most familiar with and what’s best for the players.”

–Field Level Media

Sep 12, 2022; Seattle, Washington, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson (3) hugs Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll following a 17-16 Seattle victory at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Russell Wilson denies asking Seahawks to fire Pete Carroll, GM

Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson denied a report that he asked Seattle Seahawks ownership to fire head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider before he was traded to Denver in March 2022.

Wilson said via Twitter on Friday morning that a report from The Athletic detailing an alleged plot of have Carroll and Schneider fired to bring in Sean Payton as head coach wasn’t accurate.

“I love Pete and he was a father figure to me and John believed in me and drafted me as well. I never wanted them fired. All any of us wanted was to win,” Wilson wrote. “l’ll always have respect for them and love for Seattle.”

Wilson and Carroll embraced on the field after Seattle’s 17-16 win on Sept. 12, when the Seahawks edged the Broncos in Wilson’s return.

A lawyer for Wilson sent a letter to The Athletic, saying the report published Friday that the quarterback wanted Carroll and Schneider fired was “entirely fabricated.”

Wilson now plays for Payton, who was hired this month as head coach of the Broncos. He spent last season working for FOX as an NFL studio analyst after stepping away from coaching the New Orleans Saints.

Carroll, 71, has been with the Seahawks since 2010 and was part of the braintrust that drafted Wilson 75th overall in the 2012 NFL Draft. Schneider also was hired in 2010 and signed a contract extension in 2021.

Wilson, 34, spent 10 seasons with the Seahawks and guided the team to a Super Bowl XLVIII win (February 2014) over the Broncos, 43-8. He also threw a goal-line interception in Super Bowl XLIX (February 2015) with 20 seconds remaining in a painful Seattle defeat, 28-24, at the hands of Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.

Denver went 5-12 in Wilson’s first season with the Broncos in 2022, which included the firing of first-year coach Nathaniel Hackett in December.

–Field Level Media

Oct 10, 2021; London, England, United Kingdom; New York Jets owner Woody Johnson reacts during an NFL International Series game against the Atlanta Falcons at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. The Falcons defeated the Jets 27-20. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Jets owner ready to find ‘missing piece’ QB, return to playoffs

Jets head coach Robert Saleh believes purported franchise quarterback Zach Wilson needs a break. The owner of the New York franchise might be more willing to offer a permanent vacation.

Woody Johnson said Thursday that he’s willing to spend big money this offseason to bring in a veteran the owner believes is “kind of the missing piece.”

“We’ve got to get better faster,” Johnson said of the Jets, who fired offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur and could make other changes to reset the offensive side of the roster.

Johnson said “full autonomy” was granted for Saleh and general manager Joe Douglas to make changes. Johnson plans to encourage the team to hold onto Wilson, who was benched after a 10-3 loss to the Patriots sparked the team’s stumble to a 1-7 record in the final eight games.

The Jets were last in the AFC East for the seventh time in nine years. Their last playoff appearance was 2010.

Not developing a quarterback — Mark Sanchez, Geno Smith, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Sam Darnold and Wilson have had multiple seasons at the helm from 2011-22 — continues to concern Johnson.

Johnson said letting Wilson develop behind a veteran starter has been his preference from the time the Jets drafted him No. 2 overall in 2021.

“Zach had a tough year. There’s no denying that,” said Johnson. “I still have confidence that I’ve seen some kernels of real talent there. But the confidence level … whatever it was, went down.”

Wilson had six touchdowns and seven interceptions in his second season as the starter. The Jets averaged 17.4 points and ranked 25th in total offense at 318.2 yards per game.

But New York’s defense — and Saleh’s specialty — brings cause for optimism, Johnson said. The Jets were fourth in total defense and third against the pass in 2022.

Based on the success of the defense, Johnson believes a similar improvement is possible with the right offensive coordinator in place next season. He insisted there was no mandate placed on Douglas or Saleh to be in the playoffs next year, but traced his expectations nonetheless.

“This team is loaded, I think, and ready to go,” Johnson said.

–Field Level Media

Nov 13, 2022; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson (3) after being hit by Tennessee Titans linebacker Rashad Weaver (99) as he attempts a pass during the second half at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Russell Wilson tops deep group of 2023 NFL Comeback POY candidates

As Russell Wilson prepares to close out what many have deemed a disastrous first year in Denver, the Broncos’ embattled quarterback does have support in at least one corner.

Wilson has already been installed as the favorite to win NFL Comeback Player of the Year honors by oddsmakers at SportsBetting.ag.

The Broncos are 4-12 entering Sunday’s season finale at the Los Angeles Chargers. Lose, and Denver could tie for the second worst record in the NFL.

That only drives the stake a bit further into the heart of the 2022 season, however, as the Broncos’ first-round draft pick in April belongs to the Seattle Seahawks courtesy of the blockbuster trade to bring Wilson to the Mile High City.

Wilson, 34, has thrown for 3,241 yards with a career-low 13 touchdowns. He has been sacked a career-high 53 times through 14 games.

In theory, those numbers would make the nine-time Pro Bowl signal-caller ripe for a bounce-back campaign in 2023 under a yet-to-be-hired head coach.

Wilson is the +400 favorite among 23 players being offered by the sportsbook.

He’ll face competition from a stiff group of candidates, the majority of whom are coming off major injuries rather than trying to rebound from a major drop in performance.

Among them:
Breece Hall, RB, Jets (+450)
Hall burst out of the gates as a rookie, rushing for 463 yards and four touchdowns on 80 carries before suffering a torn ACL in a Week 7 win over the Broncos. Hall’s 681 yards from scrimmage were the fourth-most ever by a Jets player through seven games, per ESPN, and he’s still the team’s leading rusher on the season.

Hall is expected to be ready for the start of next season, when he projects as the Jets’ unquestioned lead back.

Trey Lance, RB, 49ers (+700)
Lance has undergone a pair of surgeries since fracturing his fibula and sustained ligament damage during a Week 2 game against the Seahawks. He is expected to be ready to participate in offseason activities, but Lance’s status as the 49ers’ long-term answer at quarterback remains murky.

Rookie Brock Purdy has the offense humming into the postseason, and the return of Jimmy Garoppolo could happen in January. While Purdy’s emergence likely signals the end of Garoppolo’s time with the 49ers this offseason, can the 49ers turn away from Purdy if he leads the team deep into the playoffs – and potentially a Super Bowl title?

Kyler Murray, QB, Cardinals (+750)
Late-season injuries inherently bring an additional layer of uncertainty. Murray underwent ACL reconstruction surgery after going down in a Week 14 loss to New England. He isn’t expected to be ready for Week 1, but how many games Murray misses next season might not be known until sometime in the fall.

He also might be adjusting to a new offensive scheme. The Cardinals were mired in a disappointing season well before Murray was injured and coach Kliff Kingsbury remains the favorite to be the next fired in the NFL.

Javonte Williams, RB, Broncos (+800)
Wilson’s adjustment to a new city and a new offense certainly wasn’t aided by Williams’ torn ACL in Week 4. Williams had emerged as a solid power back and the No. 1 option over fumble-prone Melvin Gordon.

Minus Williams, the Broncos’ ground game hit the skids. Gordon was eventually released and Denver has turned to veteran journeymen including Latavius Murray, Mike Boone, Chase Edmonds and Marlon Mack.

There’s no ready-made replacement on the roster and, like Hall, Williams is positioned for a lead back role entering next season.

Matthew Stafford, QB, Rams (+800)
The tea leaves never read well for Stafford in 2022. That began with an offseason procedure on his elbow and pain that lingered into training camp. Stafford was scuffling through a disappointing season for the Rams as a whole when he suffered a neck injury in Week 11.

That would prove to be the end of his season, which concluded with 2,087 passing yards, 10 touchdowns and eight interceptions in nine games. Stafford, 34, said he has no intention of retiring, and the Rams’ offense will regroup after a season that also saw wide receiver Cooper Kupp lost to an ankle injury and a non-stop turnstile along the offensive line.

Other intriguing names being offered by SportsBetting.ag for the Comeback award next season include Kupp (+1000), Colts quarterback Matt Ryan (+1400), Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (+1600) and Jaguars wide receiver Calvin Ridley (+2000), who was acquired from the Falcons during a one-year gambling-related suspension by the NFL.

–Field Level Media

Dec 22, 2022; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (2) scrambles away from Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Roy Robertson-Harris (95) during the first half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Jets coach insists he won’t quit on beleaguered Zach Wilson

Zach Wilson passed for just 92 yards and guided the New York Jets to three first downs before being pulled Thursday night and was roundly booed by the home fans during their 19-3 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The second overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft didn’t look anywhere near as smooth as the No. 1 pick in that same draft, budding star Trevor Lawrence of the Jaguars.

And the setback was the fourth straight for the Jets (7-8) and second in a row since Wilson regained the starting job after Mike White injured his ribs.

One day later, New York coach Robert Saleh said the organization can’t quit on Wilson and must continue to have his back.

“We’re never going to quit on anybody,” Saleh told reporters on Friday. “I’ve got confidence in all our guys. I don’t know how many years I’ve been in the league now, it’s been a while, but I just feel like every single year there’s a kid who just is struggling and everybody wants to quit on them. And this may not be their year, but it doesn’t mean that next year can’t be their year. And that’s everybody on the roster.

“As long as that person is wearing a Jets uniform, we’re going to do everything we can to pour our hearts and souls into these kids. At the end of the day, the best players will always play, you guys know that, that’s how we stand. But at the same time, as long as they’re here, as long as they’re playing for the Jets, we’re going to pour everything we can to help them be the best version of themselves they can be. And if that best version earns a spot on the field, then that’ll happen.”

Wilson has completed just 54.5 percent of his passes for 1,688 yards, six touchdowns and seven interceptions in nine games (all starts) this season.

He also had accuracy issues as a rookie, hitting just 55.6 percent of his throws while having more interceptions (11) than touchdowns (nine) in 13 starts.

Wilson lost his job earlier this season after a poor effort during a 10-3 loss to the New England Patriots in Week 11. He was 9-of-22 passing for 77 yards in that setback.

Things got worse after the game when he was asked if he let the New York defense down. He had a one-word answer: “No.”

The Jets removed him as starter in favor of White with Saleh saying Wilson needed a reset.

Against the Jaguars, Wilson was replaced by Chris Streveler, who guided the offense to four first downs on his first series.

By playing on Thursday, New York has a long weekend and doesn’t need to make a quarterback situation until early next week. Saleh said he needs further information on White’s progress before he can make a decision.

“Again, we’ve got time,” Saleh said. “I don’t have those answers for you yet.”

It was mentioned to Saleh that going back to Wilson as the starter would be a tough sell after Thursday’s benching.

The coach maintained that Wilson is capable of turning things around despite the shaky performance.

“Confidence is a big deal,” Saleh said. “I do know that he works his tail off and I’m with you, it a tough thing to overcome. But it doesn’t take much to flip confidence. He just needs to get on a little run, just a couple things happen to go his way. …

“We’ve got to help him, we’re not going to quit on him. We’ve got to do our best. And that’s for every player in our locker room, as long as they’re wearing a Jets logo, we’re going to pour our hearts and souls into them and do everything we can to help them.”

–Field Level Media

New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (2) reacts after failing to convert on downs in the second half. The Lions defeat the Jets, 20-17, at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022.

Nfl Ny Jets Vs Detroit Lions Lions At Jets

Jets QB Zach Wilson to start, Mike White not cleared for contact

Zach Wilson will remain the starting quarterback for the New York Jets on Thursday against the visiting Jacksonville Jaguars.

“Mike (White) will not be cleared for contact, so Zach will again be the starter,” Jets head coach Robert Saleh said to open his press conference Tuesday.

Wilson returned to the starting role last week due to White being held out by team doctors with a rib injury. White started the previous three games with Saleh and the Jets determining Wilson needed to reset in the aftermath of a 9-for-22 passing (77 yards) effort against the New England Patriots on Nov. 20.

“He knows to prepare like he’s the No. 1,” Saleh said. “Anything else that happens … for Zach, it’s always helpful to get all the reps. Mike will be limited in practice — obviously you can still practice when not cleared for contact.”

Wilson completed 18 of 35 passes for 317 yards and two touchdowns last week, a 20-17 loss to the Detroit Lions that dropped the Jets to 7-7.

The matchup with the Jaguars (6-8) now brings AFC wild-card ramifications following Jacksonville’s walk-off win over the Dallas Cowboys.

Last season, Wilson led the Jets to a 26-21 win over the Jaguars on Dec. 26 for one of New York’s four victories in 2021. Wilson had a 52-yard touchdown run and 91 total rushing yards along with a TD pass in that game.

He was drafted No. 2 overall in 2021 behind Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence.

–Field Level Media

Oct 23, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Brett Rypien (4) motions at the line of scrimmage in the first quarter against the New York Jets at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Broncos rule out Russell Wilson; Brett Rypien to start vs. Cardinals

Russell Wilson has been ruled out for Sunday’s game against Arizona and Brett Rypien will start at quarterback for Denver.

The Broncos announced Friday that Wilson had cleared concussion protocol but will be given more time to recover.

Denver coach Nathaniel Hackett said Wilson wasn’t happy with that decision.

“He wants to be out there and play. He’s very, very competitive, as we all know and wants to compete for this team and be out there,” Hackett said.

“And we as an organization after discussing and talking throughout this entire week have decided it’s best for our organization. It’s best for Russell. We talked about this from top all the way to the bottom. So we looked at every single thing and just wanted to give him another week to get ready.”

Denver (3-10) has lost five straight and has been eliminated from the AFC playoff picture.

The team is targeting the Christmas Day road game against the Los Angeles Rams for Wilson’s return.

Wilson, 34, sustained a concussion in the fourth quarter of last Sunday’s 34-28 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Wilson has completed a career-low 60.4 percent of his passes for 2,805 yards with 11 touchdowns and six interceptions in 12 games in his first season with the Broncos.

Rypien, 26, relieved Wilson and completed 4 of 8 passes for 16 yards, one touchdown and one interception against the Chiefs in relief of Wilson.

Rypien has made two NFL starts with one coming in Week 7 when Wilson was sidelined with a hamstring injury. Rypien was 24 of 46 for 225 yards and one interception in a 16-9 loss to the New York Jets. His other start came in 2020, a 37-28 win — also against the Jets.

It will be a Week 15 battle of backup quarterbacks with Colt McCoy starting for the visiting Cardinals (4-9) on Sunday in the absence of injured starter Kyler Murray.

–Field Level Media

Dec 11, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones (95) sacks Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson (3) in the second quarter  at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Broncos monitoring status of Russell Wilson (concussion)

Denver Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett plans to see how the week plays out before making a decision on whether quarterback Russell Wilson can play in Sunday’s game against the host Arizona Cardinals.

Wilson sustained a concussion during the fourth quarter of last weekend’s 34-28 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

“We’re taking it day by day,” Hackett told reporters before Wednesday’s practice.

The Broncos listed Wilson as “DNP” — Did Not Practice — on Wednesday but he reportedly took part in some individual drills.

Wilson is in the NFL’s concussion protocol and will have to be cleared by an independent neurologist to play against the Cardinals.

Hackett said Wilson is showing signs of progress.

“We’re just following the protocol exactly how we need to and making sure that we increase his physical activity appropriately as the NFL has listed it out,” Hackett said.

How Denver proceeds this week will be interesting to watch. The Broncos (3-10) have lost five straight games and have been eliminated from AFC playoff consideration.

“In the end, his safety is what matters most to us,” Hackett said. “We want to be sure that we are taking care of him and all of his well-being. We’re doing what’s right for Russell. It always starts right away with the medical department. We have a really good medical department and an independent neurologist (involved in the decision).

“We’re going to be sure that we are in constant communication with them. He’s being monitored by everybody, and we’ll go from there. We’ll talk with him, and it will be an organizational decision.”

Wilson has endured a rough first campaign after being acquired from the Seattle Seahawks in the offseason. He has completed a career-low 60.4 percent of his passes and has thrown a career-low 11 touchdown passes.

Brett Rypien is being prepared to start if Russell isn’t cleared. The fourth-year pro completed 4-of-8 passes for 16 yards, one touchdown and one interception after he replaced Wilson against the Chiefs.

Rypien has made two NFL starts with one coming in Week 7 when Wilson was sidelined with a hamstring injury. Rypien was 24 of 46 for 225 yards and one interception in a 16-9 loss to the New York Jets.

“From an improvement standpoint, let’s get him out in practice and let’s get him back in the groove so that he can go out there and execute,” Hackett said. “He did a good job against the Jets. There are things that he can correct, and he knows that. We’ll see where he goes.”

Also missing practice on Wednesday were receivers Courtland Sutton and Kendall Hinton — both with hamstring injuries — and defensive end Dre’Mont Jones (hip). Sutton was inactive against the Chiefs.

The Broncos also placed linebacker Jacob Martin (knee) on injured reserve.

–Field Level Media

Dec 11, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Darius Harris (47)and cornerback L'Jarius Sneed (38) and defensive tackle Brandon Williams (66) combine for a sack on Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson (3) in the third quarter at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Broncos QB Russell Wilson (concussion) exits vs. Chiefs

Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson departed Sunday’s 34-28 home loss against the Kansas City Chiefs in the fourth quarter due to a concussion.

Wilson was injured while scrambling for 14 yards to the Kansas City 2-yard line and took a hard hit from Chiefs defensive end Frank Clark with just more than 12 minutes remaining in the contest. Denver players immediately signaled for the training staff.

Wilson was initially prone on the turf and later stood up while being examined by team trainers. He walked to the sideline under his own power and eventually headed to the locker room.

Wilson was 23-of-36 passing for 247 yards, three touchdowns and one interceptions before exiting.

Brett Rypien replaced Wilson and completed 4 of 8 passes for 16 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

–Field Level Media

Dolphins general manager Chris Grier and coach Mike McDaniel address reporters Tuesday.

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GM Chris Grier: Dolphins, Bradley Chubb close to contract

Dolphins general manager Chris Grier chuckled at the media suggestion Miami might be a seller approaching the NFL trade deadline on Tuesday.

He was still laughing Wednesday when he met the media to discuss the deals that landed outside linebacker Bradley Chubb from the Denver Broncos and running back Jeff Wilson from the San Francisco 49ers.

“We won’t be satisfied until we win a Super Bowl,” Grier said Wednesday. “We have good players. We have a good scheme. I’m not into predictions but we have a good team with a good chance to win.”

Grier said he pulled the trigger to trade a 2023 first-round pick, a 2024 fourth-round pick and running back Chase Edmonds to the Broncos for Chubb after researching the recovery of pass rushers who’ve had torn ACLs. Chubb, 26, is two years removed from the injury and led the Broncos with 5.5 sacks. The Dolphins are already well down the road with Chubb on a long-term contract.

“We anticipate having something finished up here shortly,” he said.

The deals capitalized on the multiple picks received from the 49ers in 2020 to move up from No. 6 to No. 3 for quarterback Trey Lance. Since making those deals, Grier and the Dolphins used San Francisco’s original ammunition to draft wide receiver Jaylen Waddle, acquire wide receiver Tyreek Hill from the Kansas City Chiefs and finally on Tuesday, land Chubb from Denver.

“”Oh, this is where I found old dealer Chris! I thought you’d be in Vegas dealing!” a jovial Mike McDaniel said Wednesday, storming Grier’s press conference for the start of the coach’s media session. “Did you talk about how well the team is coached?”

Grier and McDaniel pointed to one common reason the Dolphins were able to make the Chubb deal: the play of quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.

Tagovailoa leads the NFL in passer rating (112.7) and yards per attempt (9.02) with Hill leading the NFL in receiving yards (961). Despite a scary head injury and previous durability questions, McDaniel said he and Grier are firmly on the side of the fence that Tagovailoa is the right quarterback for their team.

It eased any worry about parting with 2023 first-round draft picks.

“I fully see Tua as the quarterback for this team and this franchise,” McDaniel said. “He’s a great talent. Since I’ve been here I’ve kind of known.”

–Field Level Media