Broncos owner supports Nathaniel Hackett, but says goal is to win games


LONDON — Denver Broncos owner and CEO Greg Penner offered his support for coach Nathaniel Hackett and Hackett’s staff, but made it clear “our goal is to win as many games in the second half [of the season] as we can.”

Penner made his comments at fan event Friday night in a pub near the London Bridge. The Broncos are in London to face the Jacksonville Jaguars Sunday in Wembley Stadium.

The Broncos are a disappointing 2-5 after seven games and have the league’s lowest scoring offense at 14.3 points per game. Quarterback Russell Wilson, who signed a five-year, $245 million contract extension just before the start of the season, has just five touchdown passes. The Broncos have scored just eight touchdowns all season.

They currently have a four-game losing streak and have scored 16 or fewer points in five of their games. In the wake of that, Hackett, in his first season as a head coach, has faced criticism for some clock management and game management issues as well as the underperforming offense as the team’s playcaller.

“I support Nathaniel and really want to see him succeed,” Penner said. “He’s a first-time head coach, there’s a lot of new things to get in place and he and I talk every week. I love talking with him about the game and he’s obviously incredibly passionate. But he knows we’re not performing at the level we expect to. But we’ve got high expectations for him in the second half.”

Asked if he would say Hackett would be the team’s head coach for the remainder of the season, Penner added:

“We’re never going to go into those kind of things, again I’m supportive of Nathaniel and really want him to succeed here. [But] as you guys know this is a week-to-week sport and we’re always evaluating things and our goal is to win as many games in the second half as we can.”

Rob Walton, a Walmart heir and Penner’s father-in-law, Penner and Penner’s wife Carrie Walton Penner led a group that purchased the Broncos for $4.65 billion. The purchase was formally approved by the NFL in August.

All three of the lead owners made it clear this past summer the Broncos were the only team they would have considered purchasing and that they were in it to win.

“It’s not the start we were looking for, it’s been disappointing so far,” Penner said. “We have really expectations coming in, we still have high expectations, our fans have high expectations of us and we’re not where we need to be. That’s the challenge as we go into the second half of the season.”

Penner also said he believes Wilson will succeed in the long haul for the franchise and that the team made the right call to acquire him as well as sign Wilson to the long-term extension before the 33-year-old quarterback had played a game for the team. Wilson’s contract is the new ownership group’s biggest splash, beyond the record purchase price for the team, since taking over.

“Russell has won a lot of games in the NFL, he’s been a nine-time Pro Bowler, he’s won a Super Bowl,” Penner said. “Russell knows how to win. … I think he can be a great quarterback for us. He hasn’t performed at expectations, but he’s a fierce competitor and I think he can be a great quarterback for us.”



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