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GM George Paton knows Broncos' 2-5 start is 'not good enough,' still believes in Denver's ability to turn season around

221027_Paton_Story

LONDON — Despite the Broncos' rough start to the 2022 season, General Manager George Paton said Thursday he believes Denver has the capability to rebound from a 2-5 start.

"Obviously, the results aren't there," Paton said from the Harrow School in London. "Obviously, [it's] not good enough. [We're] 2-5, and we all need to get better, and it starts with me. I do believe in this football team, I do believe in the people in our building, the coaching staff, that we can turn it around. It's only seven games. Obviously we've been in every game, and that's not what it's all about. It's about winning games, and we need to learn how to win football games. We haven't done that."

As the Broncos have struggled to start the year, the offense has shouldered most of the responsibility. Denver ranks last in the NFL in points per game and has scored just eight touchdowns through the first seven weeks. Asked about the unit, Paton said there are several aspects that have contributed to the struggles.

"It's not just one thing, as you can see," Paton said. "A lot of newness. A new coaching staff. A lot of new players, new quarterback, new schemes. It doesn't come all together. I knew it wasn't going to be a well-oiled machine. I thought it would take time. Obviously it has, but there's a lot we have to work on. And then you have some injuries on offense. Our staff's trying to learn each other, our players are trying to learn each other. It's just a lot. No excuses. We need to play better, obviously. The offense isn't good enough to win games. Defense has kept us in it, but the offense has to play better."

Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett and quarterback Russell Wilson have been in the spotlight during the Broncos' offensive struggles, but Paton expressed confidence in both men on Thursday.

"I believe in Nathaniel," Paton said of the Broncos' head coach. "I support Nathaniel 100 percent. He's been in this seven games as a head coach. The scrutiny he's faced is unprecedented. We've had four prime-time games, so he's kind of had to learn in front of the entire world. But I really like how he's kept the team together. They're connected, he's kept our building together, and I appreciate how he's fought through that."

Paton said he's seen Hackett keep the Broncos together after losing five difficult contests in the early part of the season.

"It's hard to lose five games like we've lost, and Nathaniel has great leadership and he's kept this team together," Paton said. "He's kept this coaching staff and really our entire building together."

Wilson, meanwhile, has shown the flashes that Paton expected when he traded for the quarterback in March.

"It's a lot of newness," Paton said. "He's trying to learn the staff, the staff's trying to learn him and all of our players. We know what Russ is capable of. It's our job to get the best out of Russ and our entire offense. I know we'll get there. You've seen the flashes with Russ, whether it was the first half of the Raiders [game], the first half of the Chargers [game]. You see the arm strength, the accuracy, the mobility. We all need to play better, that's for sure, on offense."

Paton also dismissed concerns that Wilson's early season struggles are indicative of a long-term issue.

"I'm not concerned," Paton said of Wilson's start to the season. "We're in it for the long haul with Russ, not the first seven games. We believe in Russ. I believe in Russ. We just need to play better on offense — and the timing and the rhythm. We need an identity. We really don't have an identity on offense, and I think that comes with time. And again, hopefully it comes soon."

Paton, though, does not believe the Broncos tried to accomplish too much as they combined a first-time head coach with a new quarterback.

"I think we're a work in progress, I do," Paton said. "I think we're a work in progress. I feel like we're going to get it. We've been very close, and I hope this Sunday you can see it."

For the Broncos to earn a win on Sunday against the Jaguars, Paton knows Denver will need to make the game-winning plays that Hackett, Wilson and several other players and coaches have referenced for the last several weeks.

"What we've learned [is] we need to make plays at the end of games to win games, and we haven't done that," Paton said. "In all our games, we've either fumbled a punt or didn't make a catch. Just a lot that goes into it. Even last year, I felt this team needed to learn how to win. We're still learning, unfortunately."

As the Broncos approach the second half of the season, though, Paton has clear expectations — and that begins and ends with finding ways to get in the win column.

"I want to see growth, and I want to see wins," Paton said. "We all want to see wins. I think it's really important; growth from the offense, from special teams. But we want to win; we're all in this to win. We're all here to win. It's great to be here, but we all want to win."

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