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Broncos Notebook: HC Sean Payton, QB Russell Wilson calling upon previous experience to rebound from tough start

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — As the Broncos look to rebound from an 0-2 start, both Head Coach Sean Payton and quarterback Russell Wilson have called upon their previous experience in responding to adversity.

In 2017, the Payton-led Saints responded from an 0-2 start to win 11 games and earn a postseason appearance. Wilson, meanwhile, has bounced back from each of his two career 0-2 starts to make the playoffs.

"Yeah, definitely do," said Wilson on Wednesday when asked if he calls upon that experience. "Definitely been to the playoffs before [after having] been down 0-2. The good thing is you've got more pitches coming, more games to play. You don't blink. I think the biggest thing is staying focused on the task and staying focused on progress and staying focused on the journey."

Payton's Saints started the 2017 season with a 10-point road loss to the eventual NFC North champion Minnesota Vikings and 16-point home loss against the eventual AFC champion New England Patriots. The Saints responded to those two losses by posting a 34-13 win over the playoff-bound Panthers to kick-start an eight-game winning streak. New Orleans would earn a playoff win that season before a last-second loss in Minneapolis ended the Saints' season.

"We opened the season at Minnesota, and it also when the Super Bowl was going to be played at Minnesota," Payton said Wednesday. "I remember collectively as a team we wanted to start the season at Minnesota and end it there. Now, I didn't know how correct I'd be."

Wilson and the Seahawks, meanwhile, responded to 0-2 starts in 2015 and 2018 with playoff runs of their own. In 2015, Seattle evened its record at 2-2 before falling again to 2-4. With eight wins in their last 10 games, the Seahawks posted a 10-6 mark and earned a wild-card win over the Vikings.

Three years later, Seattle matched that record after an 0-2 start that included a season-opening loss in Denver. Seattle faced a 4-5 record before winning six of its last seven games to again make the postseason.

As Payton and Wilson both emphasized, those turnarounds don't happen without the necessary work — or by fully turning the page to the next game.

"Listen, you've got to get on to the next game," Payton said. "You've got to make the corrections. You can't just blindly say, 'All right.' You've got to make the corrections, and this will be a good test for us. [It's] a good team we're playing, obviously."

In seven of the last 10 seasons, an 0-2 team has made the postseason. The Broncos will look to take their first step toward that turnaround on Sunday in Miami.


The Broncos will face former head coach Vic Fangio for the first time during Sunday's game, and both Payton and Wilson had high praise for the defensive signal caller.

Wilson called Fangio "one of the all-time greats" as a defensive coach, and Payton acknowledged the difficulty of finding chunk plays against Fangio's defense.

"You have to sustain drives, and it is hard to find big plays based on the structure of his defense," Payton said. "It is easy to say they're very sound. Most defenses are, but it's the technique they play with, and they're well-coached."

Payton said as the Broncos approach the matchup, he's picked the brains of several players and coaches who have played for or worked with Fangio — either directly or last year in a similar system.

"All these guys, we're surrounded in last year's scheme," Paytons said. "We've had a number of discussions [while game-planning] last night where I walked down the hallway, [and said] 'What do you think?'

"I was just talking to Kareem [Jackson] earlier. Right when I walked out to practice, I had a question regarding some red-zone stuff."

Wilson holds a 5-3 record in his career against a Fangio-led defense, while Payton is 3-2 in his head-coaching career when facing Fangio as a defensive coordinator or head coach.


Payton announced the Broncos would travel to Miami on Friday night, which will give the team more time to adapt to a two-hour time change.

"I've never been [coaching out] west," Payton said. "I know what we'd do heading west [from New Orleans]. … For a handful of teams, we'd go Friday night. It would generally be Pacific time-zone teams. … When we put this itinerary together, [I was] comfortable leaving Friday night."

Payton said the team would hold a normal week of practice in Denver and then likely conduct a walkthrough at Hard Rock Stadium on Saturday.

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