It’s been several weeks since Sean Payton was named head coach of the Denver Broncos. The process of building out a coaching staff has taken some time, but veteran coaches Mike Westhoff and Ben Kotwica are joining Payton’s staff with big roles.

Denver Broncos special teams coordinator set under Sean Payton

The Denver Broncos special teams unit has struggled for several years through the revolving door of coaching changes. Last year, the Broncos hired Dwayne Stukes as their special teams’ coordinator before he was subsequently fired just 15 games into the year.

Now the Broncos have hired 16-year veteran Ben Kotwica as their special teams coordinator going into 2023. Kotwica spent last season as the assistant special teams coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings. He’s held previous coaching roles with the New York Jets (2007-2013), Washington Commanders (2014-2018), Atlanta Falcons (2019-2020), and then Minnesota.

Kotwica will be largely responsible for helping boost the Broncos’ special teams unit who was bottom ten in field goal percentage (28th – 77.8%) and kick return average (32nd – 17.5 yards). Denver had the worst average starting field position in the league last season in comparison to 31 other teams.

One area the Broncos thrived in on special teams was their kick return average against (8th) holding opponents to 21.2 yards per return.

How this coaching change impacts Montrell Washington, Brandon McManus, and Corliss Waitman remains to be seen, but the expectation is that Denver will likely bring in plenty of competition to determine what path they take at kicker, returner, and punter.

Payton tabs Westhoff as assistant head coach, will help with special teams

Payton is bringing in long-time veteran coach Mike Westhoff to serve as his assistant head coach and will oversee special teams alongside Kotwica as first reported by ESPN’s Jeff Legwold. Previously, Westhoff and Kotwica coached together on the New York Jets from 2007 to 2012.

With over 44 years of coaching experience, Westhoff last coached under Payton as his special teams coordinator from 2017-2018. 2023 will mark the coaching return of the widely respected veteran coach who will play a pivotal role for Payton in his first year as the head coach of Broncos.

One thing is very clear; Payton is slowly building a strong staff of coaches he believes will help transform the Denver Broncos back into a potential playoff contender. With the influx of young talent on the roster as is — having an experienced coaching staff could help further player development which could lead to more wins.

Kotwica is the first coordinator hired so far by Payton and the Broncos.