Much like Broncos country, former Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright is eager to see how the Russell Wilson-Sean Payton experiment pans out in Denver.
During an appearance Thursday on NFL Network’s “Good Morning Football,” Wright pondered if his former quarterback can “handle the critique” from the Broncos’ first-year head coach.
Wright claimed that Wilson’s former coach, Seattle’s Pete Carroll, “shielded” the one-time Super Bowl champ from that type of treatment.
“This is going to be a sight to see because when he was in Seattle for those 10 years, Coach 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,’” the 33-year-old Wright said.
“‘When you do mess up, I’m going to address it, but for the most part defense, it’s all on you guys.’”
Wright added Thursday that Payton, who replaced former Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett in January, won’t hesitate to call players out.
“I heard how he runs his meetings. After a loss, if you played bad, Sean Payton will let you know loud and clear how he feels about you,” Wright said. “And that’s the question, can Russ handle the critiqueness, the harshness, the, ‘Hey, you got to get better and I’m calling you out in front of this entire football team.’ I’m sure Nathaniel Hackett wasn’t a Sean Payton-type personality.”
Wilson, 34, spent the first decade of his career with the Seahawks, winning one championship at the conclusion of the 2013 season.
However, rumors of apparent discord between Wilson and Carroll surfaced in recent years, with the organization ultimately parting ways with its franchise star in March 2022, when the quarterback was traded to the Broncos.
Though Denver provided a fresh start for Wilson, his first year in the AFC West was a total disaster as he posted 16 touchdowns against 11 interceptions with a completion percentage of 60.5 percent.
Thee Broncos — who entered the season with championship expectations — finished the year with a dismal record of 5-12, not to mention the firing Hackett after 15 games.
Though Wilson and Payton, 59, have bonded this offseason, the former Saints head coach and Fox Sports analyst has continued to lay the groundwork for changes within the organization.
Unlike last season, Wilson will not be allowed to bring his personal quarterback coach, Jake Heaps, or other outside personnel to the team’s facility.
“I’m not too familiar with that,” Payton previously said. “That’s foreign to me. That’s not gonna take place here. I’m unfamiliar with it, but our staff will be here, our players will be here and that will be it.”
Elsewhere, the Broncos signed former Raiders quarterback Jarrett Stidham to a two-year, $10 million deal in free agency to backup Wilson.
The Broncos will open the 2023 season at home on Sunday, Sept. 10, when they host the Raiders.