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#pounditWednesday, October 4, 2023

Russell Wilson’s ex-teammate has big worry about QB’s relationship with Sean Payton

Russell Wilson in practice gear

Jun 13, 2022; Englewood, CO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson (3) during mini camp drills at the UCHealth Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

One of Russell Wilson’s former teammates is skeptical that the quarterback will respond well to new head coach Sean Payton in Denver.

Former linebacker KJ Wright, who spent most of his career playing with Wilson in Seattle, thinks Payton’s coaching style could pose problems for Wilson, who Wright says spent most of his Seahawks career shielded from sharp criticism.

“This is going to be a sight to see because when he was in Seattle for those 10 years, Coach [Pete] Carroll did a good job of, I’m not going to say protecting Russ, but he really just shielded him in a way, like ‘Hey, the defense is going to be the lead dog, you’re going to hand the ball off to [former Seahawks running back] Marshawn Lynch. And when you do mess up, I’m going to address it, but for the most part, defense, it’s all on you guys,'” Wright said of Wilson on NFL Network’s “Good Morning Football.” “For Sean Payton to come in, I’ve heard how he runs his meetings. After a loss, if you play bad, Sean Payton will let you know loud and clear how he feels about you. That’s the question. Can Russ handle the harshness, the ‘Hey, you’ve got to get better and I’m calling you out in front of this entire football team.’ I know he hasn’t had that.”

For what it’s worth, Wright was one of the few to predict that Denver would struggle in 2022, though he did not necessarily expect Wilson to be to blame for it. Admittedly, he also thought Kansas City would finish third in the AFC West.

Wilson was given extensive power when the Broncos acquired him in 2022. Payton is set on scaling some of that back going forward. How Wilson responds after the worst season of his career might determine Denver’s fate, and Wright sounds somewhat skeptical that the quarterback will be up to the challenge.


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