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Payton Files: Rocket Man, Jackson and Browns' old-school formula

Payton has led Denver from 1-5 to 5-5 heading into their game Sunday against Cleveland, which is also hot.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo — It’s become the elephant on the Broncos sidelines.

Where did Sean Payton get those eyeglasses? And why does he only seem to wear them in the second half of games?

“I wish I had a good answer,’’ Payton said in an interview this week with 9NEWS for the Broncos Huddle show. “I have like 15 different pairs. And I just grab one. There’s some stadiums where you're seeing everything pretty clearly. Of course, I see it better with readers. But they don’t really fit very good with your headpiece.’’

Payton has led a stunning turnaround for the Broncos, going from a 1-5 start that included a humiliating 50-point loss at Miami, to winning four in a row with impressive wins against the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills.

He apparently got feedback on his eyeglass fashion wear during the Broncos’ Monday night win two weeks ago at Buffalo. Those glasses had somewhat of a rose tint to them and larger, more rounded lenses.

“I guess the ones I wore in Buffalo looked like Elton John, Rocket Man or something,’’ Payton said. “So I put those away. But I don’t pay any attention to it. I just have a bunch of different pair and I always have two or three laying around.”

Payton is a good sport about such matters. He once stated his distaste for the typically relaxed way a team’s starting players will watch their backups during a preseason game, saying he didn’t want to see his starters in Gilligan’s hats. For the Kay Adams show, he agreed to wear a sun hat that was supposed to replicate a Gilligan hat.

Also in Payton’s chat with 9NEWS:

*Gary Kubiak once said there’s always something when you’re a head coach of an NFL team. Always a problem or issue or a challenge. It’s never perfect. Payton agreed. The unique issue Payton and the Broncos are confronting is the repeated discipline the league has handed starting safety Kareem Jackson this season.

Jackson is just beginning a four-game suspension he received because of six infractions of unnecessary roughness penalties. Jackson has lost more than $900,000 in fines and lost wages from two different suspensions that will total six games over a seven-game stretch.

The NFL’s safety rules have changed dramatically since Payton first entered the NFL as the Philadelphia Eagles’ quarterbacks coach in 1997. Is there anything Payton can do as coach to help Jackson keep some money in his pocket and avoid further trouble for his hits?

“We’ve spent a lot of time on this and he has, too,’’ Payton said. “I’m sure he’s frustrated. It starts with your pad level and your aiming points, and then the second element is removing your head from the hit.

“We’ll work on that. He’s got four weeks now where he’s going to be away and we’ve got to be ready and get our backups ready that are going to step up into a starting role.”

P.J. Locke and Delarrin Turner-Yell are the Broncos’ backup safeties who each have two starts this season. Sixth-round rookie JL Skinner also made his NFL debut Sunday night against Minnesota, playing six snaps on special teams.

*The Cleveland Browns are next for the Broncos, this Sunday afternoon at Empower Field at Mile High. The Browns are 7-3 after winning five of their last six. However, they lost their quarterback Deshaun Watson to a season-ending fractured shoulder and will give their second start Sunday to rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson.

To study the Browns is to be impressed by their potent running game that ranks No. 3 in the league with 142.7 yards per game and is led by head coach Kevin Stefanski and offensive line coach Bill Callahan. And also their No. 1 defense led by Myles Garrett, a 6-foot-4, 272-pound defensive end who leads the league with 13.0 sacks.

“That formula even in 2023 is dangerous and effective, and it’s the reason they’re playing well,’’ Payton said. “So it’s a completely different type of opponent than we just saw [Sunday against the Vikings] and yet it’s a team that we’re going to have to have a good week of preparation and be ready to go.”


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