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 play as many games as possible in the second half (of the season). to win.”
Penner made the comments at a fan event at a pub near London Bridge on Friday night. The Broncos are in London to face the Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium on Sunday.
The Broncos are a disappointing 2-5 after seven games and have the league’s worst offense at 14.3 points per game, and quarterback Russell Wilson, who signed a five-year, $245 million contract just before the start of the season, has only five touchdown passes. The Broncos have only had eight touchdowns all season.
They are currently on a four-game losing streak and have scored 16 points or fewer in five of their games. As a result, Hackett was criticized in his first season as head coach for some time management and game management issues, as well as underperforming offense as the team’s play-caller.
“I support Nathaniel and I really want him to be successful,” Penner said. “He’s a first-time head coach, there’s a lot of new things to do and he and I talk every week. I love talking to him about the game and he’s obviously incredibly passionate. But he knows we’re not performing at the level we expect. But we have high expectations of him in the second half.”
When asked if he would say Hackett would be the team’s head coach for the remainder of the season, Penner added:
“We will never get into things like that, I support Nathaniel once again and I really want him to succeed here. (But) as you know, this is a week-to-week sport and we’re always evaluating things and our aim is to win as many games as possible in the second half.”
Rob Walton, a Walmart heir and Penner’s father-in-law, Penner and Penner’s wife Carrie Walton Penner led a group that bought the Broncos for $4.65 billion. The purchase was officially approved by the NFL in August.
All three lead owners made it clear last summer that the Broncos were the only team they would have considered buying for and that they were in it to win.
“It’s not the start we were looking for, it’s been disappointing so far,” said Penner. “We have really high expectations, we still have high expectations, our fans have high expectations of us and we are not where we should be. That is the challenge when we go into the second half of the season.”
Penner also said he believes Wilson will be successful for the franchise over the long term and that the team made the right choice in acquiring him and signing Wilson on long-term extension before the 33-year-old quarterback plays a game had played for The team. Wilson’s deal was the new ownership group’s biggest leap since the takeover, aside from the record purchase price for the team.
“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 didn’t live up to expectations, but he’s a tough competitor and I think he can be a great quarterback for us.”