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Sean Payton sends a strong message to the Broncos about pre-snap penalties

Zac Stevens Avatar
August 4, 2023

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The Denver Broncos are all too familiar with pre-snap penalties over the past half a decade.

Under Sean Payton, those will not be tolerated anymore in the Mile High City.

In the first week of training camp, Payton has mentioned that the 2022 Broncos were bottom-five in the league in pre-snap penalties on both sides of the ball. He’s emphasized, without question, that won’t be allowed under him.

But during the team’s ninth practice of training camp on Friday, despite Payton’s words, the pre-snap penalties flared up once again.

In the team’s first two-minute drill in training camp on Friday, the Broncos’ offense started with two false starts.

Instead of 1st-and-10 from their own 25-yard line, Denver’s offense was backed up to their own 15 facing a 1st-and-20 before the ball was even snapped.

“I just finished talking about it [to the team],” Payton said, immediately after Friday’s practice. “Too many fouls there with the officials here. So, before you ever get going, you put yourself in a hole. So it’s something, obviously, we’ve got to improve on.”

After being put in a bad spot due to both penalties, Randy Gregory picked off Russell Wilson off a tipped pass at the line of scrimmage from Jonathan Harris. That gave the defense the win in that period.

“The first one was difficult because of the penalties,” Payton stated.

The next move-the-ball period, Denver’s offense didn’t have a single pre-snap penalty and was able to kick a game-tying field goal. Coincidence? Potentially, but not being put behind the eight ball to start a drive is crucial for any offense.

That’s why Payton won’t just have an emphasis on pre-snap penalties, he simply won’t tolerate them. He made that clear when he was asked how he approaches eliminating those penalties.

“Well, listen,” he said, with a long pause, before making a bold statement. “There’s a point in which you pull the player out. So, there’s an emphasis to it, but there’s got to be more than just that. And it’s got to go away.”

Too many pre-snap penalties? You’re benched, according to the head coach.

In fact, he’s asking the officials that are out at camp to have an emphasis on those penalties.

“I really want them to be specific if they see something—pre-snap foul on offense or defense,” Payton said, on his message to the officials. “That’s an area that we have to get better at, that we weren’t very good a year ago.”

Last year, players rarely faced consequences for mistakes on the field. This year, Payton vows that won’t be the case.


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