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Russell Wilson buying into Sean Payton's ideas while Shane Steichen allows Anthony Richardson to be himself, says Phoebe Schecter

In the second instalment of her new column, Sky Sports NFL's Phoebe Schecter takes a look at the league's new head coaches and her early impressions following Week One in the 2023 season; watch Chiefs at Jaguars live on Sky from 6pm Sunday, followed by Jets at Cowboys from 9.25pm.

Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson

Can Sean Payton inspire the best of Russell Wilson with the Denver Broncos after a torrid first year? In the second edition of her new column, Sky Sports NFL's Phoebe Schecter has her say on the five new head coaches in 2023 heading into Week Two of the season...

The onside kicker on the first play of the game is almost Sean Payton to a tee, if you like, he has this way of having this kind of arrogance about him and to start the first game of the season with an onside kick is quite a statement. It wasn't clean itself in terms of recovery and it didn't really set them off any different.

Both teams did well the first half, and then nobody could score in the third quarter and so it ends with really just a one-point difference. I think there were good signs in there. Russell Wilson was able to move around, he didn't have to make any massively wild decisions.

The biggest thing about bringing Sean Payton into the building was more about the distractions off the field and what it's like on the field, and on the field is more your situational, making sure that whole procedure is in place. He's known for building cultures and being that creative offensive mind, so it's fun to see him on special teams taking that hit too.

Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton
Image: Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton

I remember all of us talking in the offseason before Payton took the job and nobody thought he was going to take this job first. For him to take on that challenge speaks to his mindset and where he's at and that he's missing football.

You know when he's in the building he's going to be 100 per cent dedicated. With Wilson, he's locked into that. I think Wilson is open to some of the changes Payton is making, and that's half the battle, so I think he has the potential for improvement - I'm not saying he's going to be back to where he was.

Ultimately you have to look at that division and wonder 'are you ever going to beat the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC West?' and that's probably the biggest challenge. It's not like when Sean was in the NFC South and winning all the time because there wasn't the same level of competition. You have the best in the country, basically, that you're up against, so that will be interesting to see how he manages competing against Andy Reid twice a year. That will be a real test.

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I definitely think they'll finish the season better than they did last year. And I guess the one thing I'm interested in for the team was last year there was lots of talking about Wilson, and then you would assume with Payton coming in that wouldn't be the case. But Payton has done a lot of talking about other teams, so as the season goes on and if things don't necessarily go the way he feels they should be going, how does he handle those situations?

Getting Javonte Williams healthy and keeping him healthy will be key. My worry for the Broncos was they don't necessarily have all the depth at these positions, but having him back is going to alleviate some of the stress on Wilson and sometimes take away some of that decision-making in the moment: handing the ball off, giving him a zone read, really trying to save him. With the amount of sacks he had last year, you want to keep him healthy and safe, you've got to protect him.

Positive signs in Indy

There are a lot of conversations around bringing in these new head coaches and then marrying them with these rookie quarterbacks. It allows them to both grow together, especially when you're Shane Steichen, who has been working with Jalen Hurts as Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator and really understands the importance of the quarterback-coach relationship, and bringing up a young quarterback.

It was nice to see in the game that Shane Steichen was allowing Anthony Richardson to be himself, and that's ultimately what you want to see from a coach, putting them in a position where they can be themselves. They used Richardson's strengths: he was able to run the football, he was able to use his physicality, he has that massive arm.

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Highlights of the Jacksonville Jaguars against the Indianapolis Colts in Week One of the NFL season.

That's what you want to see because you don't want to necessarily come in and change his whole playing style from college. I think he did a really nice job of nurturing that, giving him a healthy mix. There was one little hit I didn't love but other than that I think he's done a really nice job.

It's not easy to come in and take on a head coaching role, it's completely different to an offensive coordinator in that it's much more about people management. This is not an easy situation, but when you feel you're part of a foundation and building something special and can build a relationship with your quarterback, it gives you so much faith.

Imagine if you have Jonathan Taylor back and imagine how that opens up the playbook for Richardson as well - think of some of the run plays you can dial up. There's so much you can do. The beauty of Taylor is he's so explosive and can totally stretch a defense, you have to scheme against him. Imagine those two guys back there, that would be very fun for Steichen. And it falls in-line with what he did at the Eagles - look how many running backs they had going into the Super Bowl.

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Fresh direction in Houston?

There's passion from Texans in the community in general who love DeMeco Ryans. He used to play back there. But the Texans are always a tough one for me. If you look at their history, they have pretty much fired their head coach every year and for Ryans to come in and have to try and build it up, he's not necessarily chosen who is there. It's more the general manager Nick Caserio who has built up that team, and I think they have tried to find a head coach who fits that rather than a head coach who chooses the roster. That's the kind of feeling I've always had with them.

Houston Texans head coach DeMeco Ryans
Image: Houston Texans head coach DeMeco Ryans

He obviously comes from an amazing defensive tree and knowing how things worked in San Francisco and the defenses they have created, you know he's going to add so much to the Texans and they love that 'get after it' atmosphere.

I like that he was already talking about things they needed to do moving forward. You have a rookie in CJ Stroud who needs to develop for sure. They could probably do with more mechanics in terms of the speed at which the offense operates, so it's a much slower speed. It's all these learning curves they are going through where everyone is so new.

What to expect from Gannon's Cardinals?

I think Jonathan Gannon probably picked the shorter stick here with the Arizona Cardinals. I really thought they would bring in an offensive guy first - that's probably what Kyler Murray needed the most - but he's obviously bringing in a bunch of experience.

I think they did better than I thought they would in terms of the points line, but it's really hard to know who you are if you don't have your starting quarterback in. You can build up as much as you like but on our side we don't necessarily know what Kyler Murray's interactions with the team are and how the team feels about him as a leader.

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Highlights of the Arizona Cardinals against the Washington Commanders in Week One of the NFL season.

The rep count. Kyler needs as many reps as possible. When the time comes for him to come back and be healthy, I'll be really interested to see. We saw a couple of times last year that if your backup almost earns the starting job over Kyler Murray, what does that look like for a franchise? They are issues you aren't looking for as a first-time head coach.

The Cardinals constantly just have some story coming out about them and there's always distractions surrounding them.

Reich and Young the ideal marriage

I love this move and this pairing and Frank Reich being with Bryce Young. He is a quarterback himself, played for the Carolina Panthers. It's almost similar to Doug Pederson and Trevor Lawrence with the Jaguars, when you are a quarterback and can understand that and you're able to work with a young quarterback and build him up, that's one of the top relationships you can ask for.

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Atlanta's Bijan Robinson beat three Carolina defenders before scoring his maiden touchdown in the NFL.

He was successful even with the Colts when he didn't have the stability of a franchise quarterback, with Andrew Luck leaving at the time. But I think two things that benefit them is you have a really smart guy in Young, Reich is a really smart guy and, yes, it wasn't their best game last weekend, but some of that is offensive line, there are always things to look at.

You are also part of the NFC South, which is pretty much wide open.

Watch the Kansas City Chiefs at the Jacksonville Jaguars live on Sky Sports NFL from 6pm Sunday, followed by New York Jets on the road against the Dallas Cowboys from 9.25pm; the Miami Dolphins then take on the New England Patriots in Sunday Night Football.

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