Sean Payton rips Nathaniel Hackett to shreds for last season, says he’ll be pissed off if Broncos aren’t playoff team

Brad Sullivan
4 Min Read
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

In the midst of Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton offering his thoughts on the team’s playoff chances, he took time to also criticize his predecessor.

Jarrett Bell of USA Today offered Payton’s thoughts on a variety of topics, with the Broncos’ new head coach seemingly predicting that the team will be a postseason contender.

“I’m going to be pissed off if this is not a playoff team,” Payton told USA TODAY Sports.

One reason for Payton’s confidence stems from his belief that avoiding the mistakes of former Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett is the key to success.

“Everything I heard about last season, we’re doing the opposite,” Payton said.

In an effort to emphasize his point about the Broncos’ disastrous 2022 season, Payton had a video created in which a truck rode off a cliff.

“That was a message,” Payton said. “They can only beat the (expletive) out of you so much. But everybody’s got a little stink on their hands. It’s not just Russell [Wilson]. It was a (poor) offensive line. It might have been one of the worst coaching jobs in the history of the NFL. That’s how bad it was.”

Hackett was hired by the Broncos last year but watched the team fall apart. One day after the Broncos were routed 51-14 by the Los Angeles Rams on Christmas Day, Hackett was fired after just four wins in 15 games.

Wilson’s acquisition from the Seattle Seahawks last year cost the Broncos a boatload of top future assets and resulted in a huge contract extension for the veteran quarterback. Yet, he struggled for most of the season, in part because he was sacked a league-high 55 times.

Payton also pointed to Hackett’s allowance of Wilson to use a personal coach, a practice that Payton has already banned.

Over the previous six seasons, the Broncos have not even played .500 ball, compiling a record of 35-63 during that span. Simply producing a winning season is a worthy enough goal, though Payton is obviously focused on making a much bigger splash.

Payton does have experience making a big impact during his first season as a head coach. During his previous stint with the New Orleans Saints, he led the Saints to the NFC Championship Game in the 2006 season after compiling a 10-6 record during the regular season.

The previous year, the Saints had a disastrous 3-13 season that came in the wake of the disastrous effects of Hurricane Katrina. During that entire season, the team was forced to find other accommodations for its home games.

Such challenges aren’t present this time for Payton, though he does have to contend with being in the same division as the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs. Finding a way to the postseason could be difficult, but it’s clear that Payton isn’t lacking in confidence.

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Brad has written on a variety of both NBA and NFL topics and has worked previously as a sports information director at the collegiate level. A lifetime fan of sports, he's witnessed countless great moments in different sports and understands that stories can be compelling from both the perspective of winners and losers. As a frustrated fan of Cleveland sports, he experienced something unprecedented when the Cavaliers won the city's first championship in 52 years.