You can count Shannon Sharpe among the many Broncos fans excited to see what Sean Payton can do in Denver.
As the Broncos' new head coach prepares for the 2023 season, Sharpe was asked to rate his excitement for Payton, and he hardly hesitated.
"Uh, 10," Sharpe told KOA’s Brandon Krisztal. "I'm excited because he knows what it takes to win, and it's about winning. He's going to change [things]. His style of coaching isn't for everyone, but he's the coach and so you're going to have to adapt to what you did in order to fit to what he does. So I'm very excited, because Broncos Country, that's what we deserve. We demand it. What's been transpiring since they last won the Super Bowl — no playoff appearances and the mediocrity and sometimes just the lack of effort, I think, is not acceptable for that region, for us, for guys that played for the Broncos, for the fans that root for the Broncos. That's unacceptable. So hopefully this is a sign of great things to come."
Another former Bronco, Emmanuel Sanders, can speak to Payton's impact with experience, as he played for Payton and the Saints in 2020.
"Me being in the huddle with the Saints, I always felt like he was one or two plays ahead of the defensive coordinator," Sanders told 9NEWS’ Mike Klis. "Where I've been in other huddles where the offensive coordinator is one or two plays behind the defensive coordinator. But it's hard to figure out Sean. And he has Russell Wilson as his quarterback and playmakers like Tim Patrick and Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy, so it's going to be fun."
With his remarkable offensive mind, Payton could help Wilson return to his previous heights as a quarterback. Sanders said what he saw from Wilson in the final games of the season showed the potential Wilson still has in spite of an otherwise up-and-down year.
"The play that I'm thinking about is the last game (against the Chargers) where he hit Jerry Jeudy down the sideline," Sanders said. "I was sitting on my couch and I said, 'That's the Russell Wilson we needed all year.' But I think he learned from that and understands that. I think Russell Wilson is going to be the Comeback Player of the Year. Even though he didn't get hurt, he's going to be one of those kind of players."
Below the Fold
Payton also spoke with media in the days before the Super Bowl, and during a session with some Denver reporters, he shared his favorite story about the Broncos' newest Hall of Famer, DeMarcus Ware.
"I'm with the Saints now, we're playing them on a Saturday night game, and DeMarcus is injured," Payton said. "All week long: nonparticipant, doubtful. So you do your protection plan, third down later in the week, and that involves how we're going to double a certain defensive end, are we going to chip, nudge, bump. And it sure looked like Ware wasn't playing. So the attention shifted elsewhere. And here came pregame … and here comes Ware out of the tunnel in his uniform. I was like, 'You've got to be kidding me.'
Ware had two sacks, two forced fumbles and three quarterback hits in the game.
"It was the year we won the Super Bowl, 2009, I'll never forget it. And from that day on or evening on, it was like, 'We're going to assume that a guy like him is always going to play.' So, two weeks, three weeks later, we're playing the Colts in the Super Bowl and they don't know if Freeney is going to play or not. I'm telling you man, Freeney is playing. And so I got to know [Ware] well and as great a player as he is, he's just as good a guy."