ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Sean Payton isn’t wasting any time.

After a disappointing 0-2 start to the Broncos’ season, Denver’s new head coach is already making changes to his offense just two weeks into the season.

“I think, No. 1, the first thing that we always try to look at—but we have to do a better job of as coaches—is reduce the verbiage,” Payton said on Monday morning, when addressing how to fix the Broncos’ communication issues on offense. “If we have a longer play, then we can easily get to a wristband. We have to reduce the variables.”

The reduced verbiage that Payton will implement with Denver’s play calling comes less than 24 hours after the Broncos’ offense completely stalled after scoring three-straight touchdowns to open up the game against the Washington Commanders. After the team’s 35-33 loss, in which they saw a 21-3 lead evaporate, the head coach pointed to communication issues with the offense.

“Offensively, we were slow with our communication. That was frustrating. That has to start with us, with me,” Payton said after the game.

Russell Wilson pointed to only “two or three plays” where the play calls and offense could have been faster during the game. Payton, however, said it was a much bigger issue.

“It was more than just one drive,” the head coach said following Sunday’s loss, when asked about the issues with communication on the offensive side. “There were a number of drives where we were late with personnel, getting out of the huddle we took a while. That has to change. We had to burn timeouts in the first half, and I’m not used to doing [that]. We have to be better. I have to be better. ‘Russ’ has to be sharper with getting the play out, and then we have to look at how much we have in. If we need to wristband it, we will.”

While this did cost the Broncos timeouts in the first half, it hurt them the most on the second-to-last drive of the game.

Down 11 points with 7:11 left in the game, the Broncos drove down the field for a field goal to bring the game within one possession. The issue, however, was Denver drained over five minutes of clock as they slowly moved down the field. By the time they kicked the field goal, there was only 1:50 left on the clock and Denver had used their first timeout after Wilson was sacked on third down.

“I just finished saying this in the team meeting: if we’re making [mental errors] defensively, and offensively, we’re having trouble breaking the huddle and getting lined up, then we have to look at if have too much in,” Payton said on Monday, detailing the communication issues. “Then, how do we reduce the verbiage at the line of scrimmage, or in the huddle, quite frankly? Because it goes from me to the QB, the QB to the offense, and then here we go. That’s going to improve.”

“How we do it—and you bring up one of the questions—how we do it can vary,” the head coach added. “One of the methods is to reduce verbiage.  The other is to get to the line of scrimmage spontaneously. The other is to wristband certain plays that are longer calls.”

When Payton refers to using the wristband, he is talking about having Wilson wear a wristband containing play calls. Some quarterbacks use this as a tool and shortcut for getting and delivering play calls in the huddle. At times in the game on Sunday, Wilson was wearing a wristband.

Payton made it clear he will rely on this even more, especially if a reduced verbiage isn’t the answer to the Broncos’ communication issues on offense.


Zac Stevens was born and raised in Denver, went to the University of Denver and now covers the Denver Broncos. After graduating Summa Cum Laude from DU in 2014, Zac worked for the Cleveland Browns as a remote scout. He then jumped straight into the journalism industry at the beginning of 2016 covering the reigning world-champion Broncos and joined DNVR soon after. Catch him on Twitter @ZacStevensDNVR and daily on the DNVR Broncos podcast as the co-host.

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