PHOENIX — Funny what moves the needle of an NFL team's fan base.
Broncos Country was ecstatic about its team's possibilities at this time last year because of the acquisition of quarterback Russell Wilson. Winning ways were here again. Make room, playoffs. Here come the Broncos.
Then came the season and enormous expectations deflated into a 5-12 failure.
This year, the Broncos added head coach Sean Payton, who like Wilson also arrives as a proven winner. It can be argued a head coach is more vital to an NFL team's success than a quarterback, or at least as much. See Belichick and Brady, Brady and Belichick.
Yet there is much more of a let's-wait-and-see vibe with the Broncos' fan base this year.
Which is fine by Sean Payton.
“It’s March. I mean I haven’t met the team,'' Payton said here at the NFL owners meetings at the Arizona Biltmore resort. "We’re not going to make predictions. We’re going to go to work and get ready. We haven’t had our first OTA yet.’’
It was Broncos general manager George Paton who created the positive buzz last year with his acquisition of Wilson. Executives only make transactions, though. It's players who play. Setting expectations after the team's disappointment last year seems silly.
“We’re working really hard,'' said Paton in deflecting the question to what fans should expect of the 2023 Broncos. "We have a process in place and we’re not going to get ahead of ourselves but we feel really good with where we are at right now.”
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