Sean Payton Likens Broncos' QBs to 'Orphan Dogs'

Broncos coach praises QB trio's diverse backgrounds.

by Nouman Rasool
Sean Payton Likens Broncos' QBs to 'Orphan Dogs'
© Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

In a recent press interaction, Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton offered a unique metaphor to describe his quarterback roster, referring to them as "orphaned dogs." This came shortly after the team commenced their organized team activities (OTAs), with Payton expressing a cautiously optimistic view on the progress of his quarterbacks: Bo Nix, Zach Wilson, and Jarrett Stidham.

The Broncos, a team that has struggled with its quarterback lineup since the retirement of Peyton Manning in 2015, seem to be in a perpetual search for their next great leader under center. Manning, a monumental figure in Broncos' history, not only led the team to their last Super Bowl victory but also marked their most recent postseason appearance.

Post-Manning, Denver has seen an unsettling quarterback carousel featuring 14 different starters, including high-profile names like Paxton Lynch, their first-round pick in 2016, and Russell Wilson, who departed after a brief and underwhelming tenure due to a mix of high expectations and organizational turmoil.

Quarterback Diversity Praised

Despite these challenges, Payton, now in his second year with the Broncos, appears satisfied with the current setup. He praised the versatility of his quarterbacks, each bringing a distinct background and experience level to the team.

"One is fresh out of college, another has juggled between multiple NFL systems, and the third has been a part of one particular system," Payton detailed, emphasizing their diverse paths to the Broncos' playbook. The trio under Payton’s scrutiny includes Bo Nix, the team's top pick in the 2024 Draft from the Oregon Ducks; Zach Wilson, who joined the Broncos after three seasons with the New York Jets; and Jarrett Stidham, a journeyman with stints at the New England Patriots and the Las Vegas Raiders, now positioned as Wilson's backup.

Explaining his metaphor, Payton said, "They’ve all come from somewhere different – but they're doing good. It's a healthy, competitive atmosphere here." At 27, Stidham is the most seasoned of the three, positioning him as a potential leader despite the open competition for the starting role.

Payton steered clear of declaring a definitive starter for the upcoming 2024 season, with several stages of pre-season evaluations still to come, including additional OTAs, minicamps, training camps, and preseason games.

Each quarterback, according to Payton, stands on equal footing with a genuine shot at securing the top spot. This approach not only speaks to Payton's fair assessment process but also underscores the team's earnest efforts to stabilize a key position left vacillating since Manning's departure.

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