The Denver Broncos’ season took a nosedive Sunday when they lost 51-14 to the Los Angeles Rams and decided to part ways with first-year head coach Nathaniel Hackett on Monday.
But questions surrounding Russell Wilson’s poor performance this season have forced the organization to continuously defend the massive offseason trade that brought in the former Seattle Seahawks quarterback.
Broncos owner and CEO Greg Penner and general manager George Paton addressed the media Tuesday, saying that the decision to sign Wilson was “a long-term one.”
“This season has not been up to his standards or expectations. We saw some glimpses of it in the last few weeks. He knows he can play better, we know he can play better and we know he will do the right work in the offseason to be ready for next year,” Penner said.
“We saw flashes of Russ this year. Russ even said he didn’t play up to his standard,” Paton added. “He will be the first one to tell you he didn’t play up to his standard, didn’t play up to our standard. He needs to be better.”
Hackett was fired Monday after just 15 games with Denver. Special teams coordinator Dwayne Stukes and offensive line coach Butch Barry were also relieved of their duties.
“I don’t think we made a coaching move based on Russ. That wasn’t what it’s all about,” Paton said Tuesday. “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 just not one player. It’s not whether Russ is fixable or not. We do believe he is. We do.”
Penner said the hunt for a new head coach begins now.
“This will be a crucial offseason for us across our football operations. That’s coaching, personnel and support staff. We’ve got to get this right.”
Penner and Paton assumed responsibility for Sunday’s loss and the way the season has unfolded.
“Nathaniel’s a very good football coach, and he’s even a better person. It just didn’t work out here. And that’s on me and, as I told the players yesterday, I take full responsibility for where we are as a football team,” Paton said.
“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.”