Broncos back struggling Russell Wilson after firing Nathaniel Hackett
Admitting Russell Wilson is broken in the first step.
During a press conference Tuesday, Broncos GM George Paton and the team’s co-owner and CEO, Greg Penner, expressed optimism in a future with Wilson despite the quarterback’s ongoing struggles in his first season in Denver.
“We saw flashes of Russ this year. Russ even said he didn’t play up to his standard,” Paton said following Sunday’s 51-14 blowout loss to the Rams. “… You could go through the season and you do see flashes. 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.
“I don’t think we made a coaching move based on Russ. That wasn’t what it’s all about. 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.”
Tuesday’s media session comes one day after the Broncos fired first-year head coach Nathaniel Hackett after a 4-11 start, in addition to special teams coordinator Dwayne Stukes, and offensive line coach Butch Barry.
Hackett’s firing follows a brutal Christmas outing for Wilson, who threw three interceptions in Sunday’s loss.
“The number one [thing] is I have to play to the standards that I know how to play to and I’ve been playing to my whole career,” said Wilson, who returned from a one-game absence due to a concussion.
In September, Wilson — a nine-time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl champion — agreed to a five-year extension with the Broncos worth $245 million. The deal followed an offseason trade with Seattle, where Wilson spent the first 10 seasons of his career with the Seahawks.
“The decision to have Russell here was a long-term one,” Penner said on Tuesday. “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’ll do the right work in the offseason to be ready for next year.”
The Broncos had hoped for a much better outcome this season after trading for Wilson, who currently leads one of the league’s worst offenses.
Wilson has thrown for just 3,019 yards and 12 touchdowns with nine interceptions on the season.