ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Jarrett Stidham will remain the Broncos' starting quarterback against the Raiders, and Head Coach Sean Payton said Monday he believes there "were a lot of positives to build off" from Denver's Week 17 win over the Chargers.
Payton credited Stidham's decision-making and ball security, and he said "there were some things I was really encouraged about" from Stidham's performance.
Payton acknowledged the Broncos must score more points and pointed to red-zone efficiency as a key area for improvement after Denver went 0-for-2 in the red zone and settled for three points after a first-and-goal situation at the 1-yard line.
"Certainly, if we're going to measure it week by week, you'd say, 'Man, we scored under 20 points. That wasn't enough,'" Payton said. "We missed out on opportunities in the red zone, but we were safe with the football. Certainly, we look forward to this next game. That was a long stretch of 15 weeks where we'd seen a very similar pattern. I think that'll change. I made the [quarterback] decision with the hope that it will help bring change. There's no guarantee that it does, but in the meantime, it's something that I felt was necessary."
Payton said Stidham's experience in the league helped him in his first start with the Broncos, as he completed 20 of 32 passes for a touchdown, a 93.8 quarterback rating and no turnovers.
"There's [a] confidence about him," Payton said. "He played with that kind of poise, and I think you felt that on the field. I said this yesterday after the game: You didn't feel like you were working with somebody who was a younger player. You felt like you were working with somebody that had experience and was very confident."
One of Stidham's key plays came on the final drive of the first half, as the Broncos regained possession at their own 15-yard line with two timeouts and 24 seconds to play. Payton said the game scenario was a "pickle position" in which he could have either pushed the ball down the field or taken a knee to avoid a negative play. The Broncos opted for the former, and after an 11-yard completion to Samaje Perine, Stidham was able to take a shot down the field. Stidham found Jerry Jeudy coming across the field for a 41-yard catch-and-run, and the Broncos earned a 48-yard field-goal attempt to push their lead to 13 points before the break. Though Wil Lutz's kick drifted wide right, the quick drive was still a positive in Payton's eyes.
"I thought that was significant," Payton said.
As Stidham and the Broncos' offense look to take another step in Week 18, Payton acknowledged Stidham's play could influence his role in 2024.
"That's the case with every player, right?" Payton said. "We are constantly evaluating how they play, and then, it would definitely carry over to how we feel about next year, relative to their role. The answer would be yes. I think these are important snaps and games for him."
Payton announced safety Delarrin Turner-Yell suffered an ACL injury in Sunday's win, and the second-year player will be placed on IR.
Payton said the Broncos are "a lot more optimistic" about tackle Mike McGlinchey, who exited the game with a rib injury. Payton did not speak to McGlinchey's possible Week 18 status.