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Broncos remain confident in QB Russell Wilson, believe he can return to previous heights


ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — As Owner and CEO Greg Penner prepares to lead a search for the 19th head coach in franchise history, he remains confident in the team's franchise quarterback.

Penner and General Manager George Paton both expressed faith in quarterback Russell Wilson, and Penner said he believes Wilson will put in the work this offseason to lead the Broncos to greater results.

"The decision to have Russell here was a long-term one," Penner said of Wilson. "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."

Wilson, a nine-time Pro Bowler who won the most games in NFL history through his first 10 seasons, has posted a 12-to-9 touchdown-to-interception ratio this season. His previous low came in 2016, when he threw 21 touchdowns to 11 interceptions. Wilson threw three interceptions in Sunday's loss to the Rams, and he shouldered the blame for the loss. As the Broncos move forward, Wilson said he must improve upon a difficult season.

"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," Wilson said.

Both Penner and Paton continue to believe in Wilson's potential, and Paton noted several games where Wilson looked like the player the Broncos imagined when they sent an extensive trade package to Seattle this spring.

"We saw flashes of Russ this year," Paton said. "Russ even said he didn't play up to his standard. But the first half of the Chargers game, the first half of the Raiders game [in Week 4], he finished strong. You can go through the season [and] you do see flashes. He'll 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."

Paton emphasized that Wilson's struggles were not the reason the Broncos parted ways with former head coach Nathaniel Hackett, and he also won't be the sole consideration as the Broncos choose a new leader.

"I don't think we made a coaching move based on Russ," Paton said. "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."

Paton said while it's "really important" the Broncos' new coach has a relationship with Wilson, the new coach must be able to improve all areas of the team.

"[It's about] the entire offense, as well, [and] the entire defense," Paton said. "We need someone to fix the special teams. So, really all three phases is what we want our coach to be an expert in, not just one person."

In short, the Broncos' impending decision is not about who can "fix" Wilson, as one reporter put it Tuesday. The Broncos, though, do believe Wilson is capable of returning to a level of play he showed as recently as a year ago.

"It's not whether Russ is fixable or not," Paton said. "We do believe he is. We do."

As the Broncos move forward toward the 2023 season, it will be critical that Wilson indeed returns to his previous heights.

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