Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton shared his insight into some of the coaching hires that filled out his staff, Russell Wilson, and what it takes to build a winning culture.

Sean Payton shares insight into coaching hires

Sean Payton took center stage in Indianapolis ahead of the start of the NFL Scouting Combine and shared why his process of hiring coaches took as long as it did and why Vance Joseph was his choice for defensive coordinator.

Payton has finalized a large contingent of his staff for the upcoming season, but more importantly, he’s named his coordinators. Joe Lombardi will serve as the offensive coordinator while Payton will call plays, Ben Kotwica will oversee special teams, and Joseph will call the Broncos defense.

Many fans in Broncos Country were surprised with Joseph’s return, but there is a reason he stood out in the eyes of Payton in comparison to other candidates like Sean Desai, Matt Patricia, and Rex Ryan.

“Regarding [Defensive Coordinator] Vance [Joseph], [former NFL Head Coach] Rex [Ryan] and the other defensive coordinators that we interviewed—we went through the process,” Payton said on Tuesday. “It kind of had a couple of steps to it. We felt like we were going to be really patient with that hire and try to dig as much as we could, relative to the fit and finding the right guy. Rex, [Patriots Senior Football Advisor/Offensive Line Coach] Matt [Patricia], [Seahawks Associate Head Coach/Defensive Assistant] Sean Desai and all of those guys were outstanding. In the end, there were a few things that I felt that Vance was going to bring. Not necessarily because he had experience in Denver, but really more what he was able to do—believe it or not—in Arizona. That was a tough job for a number of years. We’re excited to have him on our defensive staff.”

Christian Parker and Marcus Dixon integral part of Denver’s defensive staff
Part of Joseph’s defensive staff includes defensive backs coach Christian Parker, defensive line coach Marcus Dixon, inside linebacker Greg Manusky, and outside linebacker coach Michael Wilhoite.

Payton went to great lengths to talk about why Parker and Dixon remained on staff despite being on former head coach Nathaniel Hackett’s staff last season.

“I had heard a lot of good things prior to when I took the job and prior to getting into the building,” Payton said of Dixon and Parker. “I wanted to visit with those guys. They were real bright when I visited with them. You don’t want to lose good talent, and it’s the same thing with your locker room. You don’t want to lose players that are possibly leaving. [Defensive Backs Coach] Christian [Parker] is well versed and when you listen to him talk about coverage play and how it fits the fronts—those two have been real instrumental in the defensive coordinator interview process. They sat in on the second round of meetings and interviews. [Defensive Line Coach] Marcus [Dixon] is the same way. They are both young and extremely talented coaches that the first impressions were immediate for me. Then knowing about how others in the building felt, all of that helped me make a decision pretty quickly.”

Where Dixon and Parker were noticeably impactful for Denver last season had a lot to do with their development of younger players like Damarri Mathis, Eyioma Uwazurike, Caden Sterns, Ja’Quan McMillian, and Matt Henningsen. They’ll continue in their roles on Payton’s staff in 2023.

Sean Payton shares how he plans to build a winning culture in Denver

It’s been a long time since the words winning culture and the Denver Broncos have been mentioned in the same sentence. The Broncos have had a 44-70 record since they won Super Bowl 50 and many in Broncos Country are hoping that winning football will return this upcoming season.

Winning in the NFL is one of the most difficult aspects for each and every team who have different circumstances, roster personnel, and structural environments.

There is no one-step solution toward building a winning culture, but how Payton and his staff approach this off-season will help build the foundation of returning to their previous ways of winning.

“Beyond people, it’s every detail,” Payton said regarding building a winning culture. “Every little thing matters almost in an obsessive way. All of those details matter inside the framework of the field. We obsess as coaches and teachers on doing the little things well. That has to exist in every area of your building—in your equipment room, in your training room, in your cafeteria. Pretty soon, the building moves in a direction in concert, and it’s pretty cool when that happens. It’s not easy. People talk about it, and they search for it like that Holy Grail. I’ve seen it, I’ve been a part of it. It requires a little unselfishness from all of us in knowing that if we’re all moving in this one direction, chances are it’s going to benefit all of us that are moving.”

It won’t be easy, but Payton is a proven winner as a head coach and a transformer of culture and deserves the benefit of the doubt from Broncos fans.