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Sean Payton Gives Frank Review of Russell Wilson's Performance at 0-3

Sean Payton has Russell Wilson performing at a top-10 level, even amid an 0-3 start.

The shockwaves from the Denver Broncos' 50-point loss last week are likely to be felt for a very long time. Thankfully, the salacious Taylor Swift/Travis Kelce rumors have pushed Denver's crushing defeat further down the news cycle.

In that vein, Broncos head coach Sean Payton injected some perspective this week into how the game of football shouldn't always receive top billing in people's lives.

“Every one of us gets inundated with text messages of support," Payton told reporters on Wednesday. "Oftentimes, they’re [from] people that care for you. You read them sometimes and you’re like, ‘Man, this is what we do for a living. No one passed away. We’ll get through it.’”

The Broncos may have taken a collective deep breath, but it will take massive amounts of willpower to turn the 2023 ship around. To that end, Payton's alliance with quarterback Russell Wilson is coming together perhaps as quickly as Kelce and Swift's kiss-and-tell show.

Given Denver's chronic lack of defensive chops, getting into shootouts might be the only course of action Payton has left at his disposal. On that front, Payton gave a largely positive appraisal of Wilson's current level of play, and it's particularly telling that he referenced his quarterback's acumen with the long ball.

“No. 1, he’s moving well, and he’s making good decisions," Payton said of Wilson. "I knew he could throw the deep ball well, but we’re seeing it. I think offensively, one of the keys to victory is [eliminating] some of the self-inflicted [wounds]. Sometimes there are mistakes that can be forced or because of the opponent. Then other times, whether it’s a holding [penalty] or a false start. [It’s about] eliminating and cleaning up some of that."

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Wilson has quarterbacked the Broncos to a No. 8 NFL ranking in passing offense. Meanwhile, the Broncos' QB ranks No. 8 in passing yards, No. 6 in passing touchdowns, and No. 7 in passer rating. Payton is delivering on the Russ promises thus far. 

However, Broncos fans are clamoring for Payton and Wilson to figure out how to translate the offense's early-game production to the second half. Payton hears you. 

"Certainly, our second-half scoring," Payton said. "I think this is a game where our red-zone efficiency is going to be important. I would look at it a little bit more as a team on offense than specific to ‘Russ.' We saw it at the end of training camp, and we’re seeing it now. He’s operating quickly and throwing well.”

Even if the Broncos were to adopt a blatantly one-dimensional offensive approach, it could tap into the emerging core strengths that have been underutilized. 

Rookie wide receiver Marvin Mims Jr. is emerging as a legitimate deep-ball threat. He could lead to explosive results if Payton can work him into the game plan at a rate better than the rookie's current 16-snap-per-game average. 

Payton seems to be figuring that out. 

“He is. It’s a tough challenge each week when you start looking at Mims, [WR Jerry] Jeudy and the other receivers,," Payton said. "He’s someone that we don’t just view as a return specialist. We felt like when we drafted him, he had a really good deep-ball skill set. He can run... With every play that we put in, we talk about primary, secondary and where the touches are coming for [WR] Courtland [Sutton] or Jeudy or Mims or whoever’s in that personnel grouping. I would say a month ago—I don’t want to say we were less certain—it was just a little bit less defined at that time with him [Mims] coming off an injury and then getting back into it. He’s doing well.”

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