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As the Broncos prepare to usher in the Sean Payton era, the new coach already appears to be drawing a clear line in the sand in regard to his stance on Russell Wilson’s use of a personal coach at the team’s facility.
Payton was asked Monday following his introductory press conference about Wilson being allowed to work out with personal quarterback coach Jake Heaps at the UCHealth Training Center during the 2022 season. The topic followed Wilson throughout his first season in Denver, a campaign that saw the veteran QB struggle under first-year coach Nathaniel Hackett.
Initially, Payton moved past the question about his new QB, telling reporters, “Yeah, I’m not too familiar with that.” He then expounded on the idea after he was asked how he felt about any player having personal coaches who have access to team facilities.
“Yeah, that’s foreign to me, that’s not gonna take place here,” Payton continued. “I mean, I’m unfamiliar with it but our staff will be here, our players will be here, and that’ll be it.”
Wilson’s six-year partnership with Heaps, a former Seahawks practice squad QB, was notably a topic of debate heading into the season following the blockbuster trade that ended his 10-year tenure in Seattle. During the first week of training camp in July, Wilson addressed the reasoning behind Heaps’s presence to reporters.
“It’s a 365-day job,” he said. “This isn’t a thing where you are just out here for six months, seven months and just get out here and play games for fun. This is my livelihood. This is everything that I do. I want to become a master of the game every single day. That’s why I have the great team that I do around me, as well, [and], obviously, with this coaching staff, too.”
While it remains to be seen how things will play out, it’ll be interesting to see how Payton and Wilson handle the situation as they continue to build a rapport entering the 2023 season.
The Broncos moved on from Hackett after going 4–11 through 15 weeks and went on to finish 5–12 and out of the playoff picture for a seventh straight year. In his 15 starts, Wilson recorded 3,524 yards, 16 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.