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#pounditSaturday, July 20, 2024

Sean Payton has perfect response for his critics

Sean Payton wearing a headset

Aug 11, 2023; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton looks on against the Arizona Cardinals during the first half at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Does Sean Payton still have what it takes to coach a winner? The question has been asked repeatedly in the last year or so, and Payton has a pretty straightforward response to those questions.

Payton on Tuesday was asked whether he has a chip on his shoulder after going 8-9 in his first season as Denver’s head coach. His response was essentially that he does not spend as much energy on his critics the way he used to, but that doesn’t mean he cannot send a message.

“I think that I have two middle fingers,” Payton said, via Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. “I’ve gotten better with age not using them. I think it’s more — and I would say this changed for me — it’s more inward focused relative to our own team and what we’re doing. As you get older in this, you don’t waste the calories on certain things that I might’ve back in 2006, ’07, ’08.”

Presumably, Payton understands the questions. He failed to make things work with Russell Wilson in 2023, and even he has admitted that most people have yet to be convinced by his quarterback room for 2024.

Payton had the New Orleans Saints in four straight postseasons from 2017 to 2020 and should have made a Super Bowl. It is not as if his success is ancient history, but if he cannot turn the Broncos around, it will definitely be a hit to his resume in the eyes of some. Payton, however, does not sound like he cares.

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