“This season has been tougher than expected,” Penner said Dec. 27, the day after Hackett was fired. “Again, this is not the season we were hoping for, expecting or thinking our fans deserve. I’m confident that if you start with the right culture, (the right) people, and you have the resources and the expectations , we can build a winning football team here again. And I don’t think it will take a number of years. Our goal should be to turn things around so that we are ready to start the coming season with the good elements in place.”
While coaches sell themselves to Penner, the CEO’s decisions could also be seen as examples he can use to sell his franchise to candidates he cares about. Hackett’s dismissal – is that Penner isn’t sitting on his hands, and if he sees something that needs to be changed, he’ll do it.
“It starts with ownership, and ownership is clear on expectations, on the standard,” Penner said the day after Hackett was relieved. “Part of that decision was seeing something that wasn’t up to our standards and making the decision to move forward and make that clear to the whole organization.”
Penner’s first major football decision was to agree to a five-year, $245 million contract extension with Russell Wilson before the start of the season. It’s a decision that has been closely scrutinized, but it may still be too early to fully assess it. The next head coach could bring Wilson back to form. A plan to “fix” Wilson is one that candidates will obviously have to present to Penner in the process. Candidates will also need to possess qualities capable of quickly creating a winning culture.
“I’ve worked with a lot of great CEOs, and it starts with really strong leadership,” Penner said in December. “I think that will be the most critical factor here in a head coach. Obviously the Xs and O’s are important, but we need a strong leader for this organization who is focused on winning. That starts with culture. It instills a sense of accountability, discipline. And we need an identity on offense. At the starting point, it has to be culture and leadership. And those characteristics are what we focus on. focus the most.
The next Broncos head coach will report directly to Penner himself. As for the process, the Broncos’ search group, led by Penner, will be a small, tight-knit group including the other owners and general manager George Paton. Don’t expect a lot of information to be leaked during the process. Things should change quickly, with the organization getting a head start during the season. The interview process should begin within days of the end of the season.
Based on the actions of this ownership group, we should have no desire for money, compensation, or resources (within reason) to be spared in an attempt to land the Broncos’ coveted coach. For example, if they think former Saints coach Sean Payton or Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh is best for the franchise, expect Denver to be as aggressive as they are. any other team, if not more. This new regime has given observers no reason to think otherwise.
“The new head coach we hire will have every resource at his disposal and the full support of our ownership group to continue our tradition of winning and championships here,” Penner said.
Including a new field…even if it’s just for a day.