The Players Perspective: Shaun King and Mike Pritchard sound off on the 2023 season

By Adam Burke  ( Managing Editor) 

August 31, 2023 09:10 PM

Mike Pritchard and Shaun King answer the NFL's burning questions for 2023.

Burning questions are never in short supply when it comes to the start of an NFL season, but there are some especially interesting topics to discuss heading into the 2023 campaign. As writers and analysts, we all have our fair share of takes on the most intriguing storylines that will carry over from the summer into the fall, but what about a player’s perspective?

Fortunately, we can get that from our own Mike Pritchard and Shaun King, two guys who have been in NFL locker rooms and in many different situations and scenarios, so they can provide a unique perspective on what to expect.

You’ll hear from both guys a lot during the NFL season, as Pritch will bounce around as one of our lead NFL analysts, and Shaun will continue to co-host VSiN Primetime with Tim Murray, but what do they think about some big NFL talking points before training camp gets underway?

To get the “Players’ Perspective,” I asked about Sean Payton and the Denver Broncos, Aaron Rodgers and the New York Jets, and teams that could surprise or disappoint for this season.

The Broncos traded a 2023 first-round pick (29th overall) and a second-round pick in 2024 to the New Orleans Saints for Sean Payton and a third-round pick just before the Super Bowl. 


How will Sean Payton fix the Denver Broncos and Russell Wilson?

Mike Pritchard: Sean is an experienced Super Bowl-winning head coach. I think (I know) he will assert authority. During Payton's first press conference, he obtained the necessary credibility to win over the locker room. Last year, the Broncos did not have a credible head coach, and the results of their season reflected that even though the Broncos have a decent amount of really talented players. Russell Wilson has no choice but to check his ego at the door. If he does this, Payton's play calling will help Wilson play disciplined team football and lead the offense.

Shaun King: Sean will bring discipline, accountability, and elite play design to the Broncos.  He is a master at creating advantageous situations for his offensive skill players. Denver returns the majority of their defense, so an uptick in production and execution on offense puts the Broncos firmly in the playoff mix.


After going into the darkness, Aaron Rodgers emerged with a desire to keep playing football, but for a different team. For the first time in his career, Rodgers, who was traded from the Packers to the Jets in April right before the NFL Draft, will be behind center wearing a different shade of green.

What are your expectations for the New York Jets with Aaron Rodgers coming in and all the pieces already in place?

Mike Pritchard: My expectations for the Jets in the 2023 season are the playoffs and competing for the AFC East division title. The history of this game reminds us that Hall of Fame QBs are hard to find and tricky to keep as they get older. The message became stale in Green Bay for Rodgers and the results on the field were no longer acceptable for the Packers and Rodgers. Rodgers needed a change of scenery and a new message. The Jets and their talented roster are enough to help motivate the Hall of Fame QB.  The track record for Hall of Fame QBs in waiting while still playing is spectacular. 

Warren Moon - Playoff appearance with the Vikings after HOF career in Houston

Joe Montana -  Playoff appearance with the Chiefs after HOF career in San Francisco

Kurt Warner - Super Bowl appearance with the Cardinals after (debatable) HOF career in St. Louis and New York

Philip Rivers - Playoff appearance with the Colts after (debatable) HOF career in San Diego/LA

Brett Favre - Playoff appearance with the Vikings after HOF career in Green Bay

Tom Brady - Super Bowl appearance with Tampa after HOF career in New England

Shaun King: I'm not ready to anoint the Jets as playoff contenders. They have some major concerns on the offensive line, and what version of Breece Hall do we get off the injury coming back this soon?  Rodgers is definitely an upgrade at QB for this Jets team, but if we are being honest, where is Rodgers in reality in 2023 in the pecking order? Two years ago, I would be ALL-in on NY, but Rodgers honestly looked old in 2022.  Time will tell if Aaron has another great year in him.


Teams go from worst to first almost annually in the NFL, while other teams go from the penthouse to the outhouse. It can be a fickle league, but one thing we know for certain is that there are always teams that exceed expectations and those that fall painfully short.

Which team(s) do you think will be the biggest surprise(s) this season, and which team(s) will be the biggest disappointment(s)?

Mike Pritchard: Even though NFL seasons are like snowflakes in that each year is different, there are often more constants than surprises in the NFL. 

Potential biggest surprise: Atlanta Falcons going from last to first. This last-place team from a year ago won seven games. They are well-coached and have acquired excellent team talent. The only question mark for this team is QB. Can Desmond Ridder just manage a game? If Ridder avoids making critical mistakes, the talent around him will make the necessary plays to score points. The veteran-laden defense will be good enough to complement everything this team needs to do to win 10 games. 

Potential biggest disappointment: The Buffalo Bills...and this is not about the Madden curse (Josh Allen on the cover). I believe the league has caught up to Josh Allen and the Bills' offense. This offseason has also produced more of the same for the Bills. Their defense is older and no longer dynamic, and their offense still lacks a physical presence. To pile on, the Bills drafted another pass-catching TE. An argument can also be made that the AFC East division will be the toughest division in the NFL in 2023.


Shaun King:

Potential Biggest Surprise: Seattle Seahawks. Pete Carroll and company have done a tremendous job assembling a legit championship-caliber roster from 1 through 22.  I'm picking Seattle to emerge out of the NFC in a conference that isn't very top-heavy.  Geno Smith will build upon last year, and adding Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Zach Charbonnet will make the offense more explosive.  

Honorable mention would be the Green Bay Packers.

Potential Biggest Disappointment: I'm worried about the Bills. For a team with Super Bowl expectations, their offseason has been uninspiring. I’m hearing reports that Von Miller still isn’t healthy and ready to return. Also, what's going on with Stefon Diggs?  He skipped mandatory camp, and Sean McDermott said he is very concerned. Things just don't seem quite right in Buffalo to me. Josh Allen also took a step back without Brian Daboll. Can Ken Dorsey get him back to full potential in Year 2?



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