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Broncos front office begins coach search, say fans deserve better

Dec 12, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Detailed view of a memorial sticker on a Denver Broncos helmet in reference to American football player Demaryius Thomas before the game against the Detroit Lions at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos offered a view of the road moving forward on Tuesday, one day after head coach Nathaniel Hackett was fired.

At a press conference Tuesday, Broncos CEO Greg Penner offered an apology to “Broncos Country” with the team now in search of its fourth different head coach since Gary Kubiak led the club to a Super Bowl victory at the end of the 2015 season.

“When we purchased this great franchise in August, this was not the season we were expecting, and it has been a season that has been disappointing for our fans and what they deserve,” Penner said.

With high hopes after the addition of quarterback Russell Wilson in the offseason, the Broncos are 4-11 this season and just 3-10 under Wilson. The decision to fire Hackett came after Wilson threw three interceptions in Sunday’s brutal 51-14 loss on Christmas Day against the Los Angeles Rams.

Wilson has completed a career-low 60.1 percent of his passes for 3,019 yards with just 12 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

“We saw flashes of Russ this year. He will be the first one to tell you he didn’t play up to his standard,” Penner said.

Said general manager George Paton: “We know he can play better and will put in work to be better.”

Penner said Tuesday he intended to part ways with Hackett at the end of the season but sped up the timetable after Sunday’s embarrassing defeat.

Paton went a step further.

“I take full responsibility for where we are as a football team,” he 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.

“I just want to be clear. This isn’t just about the coaching. This isn’t just about Nathaniel. This is about the entire football operation. This about the personnel, the players, the staff, everyone involved with our football team. It has to be better across the board. I have to be better.”

The Broncos signed Wilson to a five-year, $245 million contract extension with $165 million guaranteed before the start of the season. That was after trading tight end Noah Fant, defensive tackle Shelby Harris, quarterback Drew Lock, first-round picks in 2022 and 2023, second-round selections in 2022 and 2023 and a 2022 fifth-rounder to Seattle.

The Broncos rank last in the NFL in scoring with just 15.5 points per game.

Denver will complete the season with assistant Jerry Rosburg as the interim head coach. The interim position was offered to defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero, but he declined, preferring to focus on the defense.

Evero is expected to be a candidate for a full-time position, although he has never been a full-time NFL head coach. Each of the team’s last three head coaches – Hackett, Vic Fangio and Vance Joseph – were all first-time head coaches when they were hired by the team.

“I am a big believer that if start with the right culture, right people, right resources and expectations, we can build a winning team,” Penner said. “And I don’t think it takes a number of years. The focus will be turning it around next year.”

–Field Level Media