Impassioned George Paton admits Broncos mess is completely his fault
Now that was a press conference.
Broncos CEO Greg Penner and GM George Paton met with the media on Tuesday morning, just about 24 hours after firing head coach Nathaniel Hackett. Hackett made it just 15 games with the Broncos, posting a 4-11 record in a season that had high expectations but completely flopped.
And while Hackett is the fall guy for Denver’s issues, clearly this wasn’t all his fault. Many point the finger at Paton and QB Russell Wilson. Paton hired Hackett, traded for Wilson and gave Wilson a monster contract extension before the season started. None of those moves have worked, and Wilson is having the worst season of his pro career.
At the presser, Broncos Country heard the most passion and fire we’ve seen from Paton in his two years on the job. He took complete responsibility, and admitted this mess is his fault. Paton gave a lengthy opening statement in which he knows he’s on the hot seat.
“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. As I told the players yesterday, I take full responsibility for where we are as a football team. 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,” Paton said.
Unlike Hackett, Paton still has a job. But his leash could be short. Penner announced on Monday he’ll lead the coaching search and said it again on Tuesday. For Paton, he knows everyone better improve in a hurry, or they could be next to go.
“I just want to be clear. This isn’t just about the coaching. This isn’t about Nathaniel, this is about the entire football operation. It’s about the personnel, players, the staff, everyone involved with our football team. It has to be better across the board. I have to be better,” Paton said.
And Sunday’s meltdown in Los Angeles against the Rams was clearly the final straw. The Broncos lost 51-14, had a sideline fight and a postgame scuffle. It was a black-eye on the team while the whole country watched.
“We have a lot of work to do, and as I told the players and our staff yesterday, we’re all being evaluated. Our record this year, and especially our performance on Sunday is not what we’re about. Sunday’s game was unacceptable. It was embarrassing,” Paton said. “All that matters is winning. No one cares about excuses and we’re not going to make them.”
While Paton won’t hire the next head coach, he will have some influence on the decision. The Broncos, and Paton, better get it right or he’ll be shown the door next.
The good news, and to his credit, is Paton seems to know that.