July 11, 2024

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Byte Class Technology & Sports Update

Broncos CEO Greg Penner, GM George Paton offer updates on Russell Wilson, coaching search, more

Broncos CEO Greg Penner, GM George Paton offer updates on Russell Wilson, coaching search, more
Broncos CEO Greg Penner, GM George Paton offer updates on Russell Wilson, coaching search, more

Two days after parting ways with Nathaniel Hackett, just the fourth head coach to be fired during his first season on the job in NFL history, the Broncos met the media Wednesday to address the state of the franchise. Co-owner and CEO Greg Penner and general manager George Paton explained Hackett’s firing, announced an interim coach, projected quarterback Russell Wilson’s future, and fielded questions on other pressing issues surrounding the team.

Here are some of the most notable developments from the Broncos’ press conference:

The state of the Broncos: Both Penner and Paton expressed remorse for the team’s performance this year. “I want to personally apologize to our fans and all of Broncos Country,” Penner said. “We know that we need to be better, and we will. … As owners, it’s incumbent on us to have high expectations, set a high standard, and ensure there is accountability.”

The final straw for Hackett: Sunday’s 51-14 loss to the Rams was particularly “embarrassing,” both Paton and Penner said, while the “off-field stuff” — presumably players engaging in a postgame fight — contributed to the decision to relieve Hackett ahead of the offseason. Penner implied a change would’ve been made anyway, but Sunday’s events accelerated the process.

The interim coach: Senior assistant Jerry Rosburg, hired in September after a three-year hiatus from the game, will run the team for the final two games of the 2022 season. Rosburg previously spent 11 years as the Ravens’ special teams coordinator under John Harbaugh.

The head coaching search: Penner said he will “lead a thorough process” that includes input from Paton and others in the ownership group, which includes his wife, Carrie; Rob Walton, Mellody Hobson, Lewis Hamilton, and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. They hope to cast a wide net for candidates, including current defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero.

Paton’s role in the team’s failures: The GM was insistent that he, and not just Hackett, is responsible for Denver’s 2022 struggles. “No matter how tough the times, (Hackett) stayed the course, and he kept our team together,” Paton said. “These guys fought for Nathaniel, and that’s a credit to him, and that’s a credit to his staff. … Nathaniel’s a very good football coach … It just didn’t work out here. And that’s on me. As I told the players yesterday, I take full responsibility for where we are as a football team. I brought in the head coach. I brought in most of the players. Those are my decisions, and there’s no one to blame but me. This isn’t just about the coaching, this isn’t just about Nathaniel. This is about the entire football operation.”

Ownership’s role moving forward: Penner said the next head coach will report directly to him rather than Paton, suggesting that setup is common among NFL teams. “George is gonna be intimately involved with this process,” he added, “and we’ll make sure there’s a good fit there.”

Russell Wilson’s future: Both Paton and Penner lightly preached patience, acknowledging their star QB did not meet expectations in 2022 but declining to even entertain the possibility of moving on from the former Seahawks standout. “The decision to have Russell here was a long-term one,” Penner said. “This season has not been up to his standards or expectations. … He knows he can play better, we know he can play better, and we know he’ll do the right work in the offseason to be ready for next year.” Paton echoed the sentiment: “I don’t think we made a coaching move based on Russ. That’s not why we’re getting a new coach, to turn around Russ. It’s about the entire organization. It’s about the entire football team. It’s not just one player. It’s not whether Russ is fixable or not. We do believe he is. We do.”