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'We're just as impatient as you are to win': Owner & CEO Greg Penner sees progress in 2023 season, speaks to Broncos fans about higher expectations for future

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — An 8-9 season can create a range of emotions.

The Broncos' 2023 season can spur positivity, particularly after a 1-5 start and a three-win improvement from Denver's 2022 record.

"I think we took a big step forward this year," Owner & CEO Greg Penner said Tuesday. "I was encouraged by what I saw. [I was] proud of the resilience that the players showed, as well as the leadership of [Head Coach] Sean [Payton] and [General Manager] George [Paton] and the whole staff."

And yet, being within one game of a winning record and a couple wins from a playoff berth can also leave "a pit in your stomach," as Penner said he felt following a Christmas Eve loss to the New England Patriots.

"We understand the championship standard that we have here, both for the organization and the fans' expectations," Penner said. "This is a proud franchise. We grade ourselves by our winning record, and this year, we didn't meet our expectations."

Such is the dichotomy of the Broncos' 2023 season: Progress, but not perfection.

As the Broncos look to take the next step, Penner spoke directly to the team's fan base about what must come next for Denver.

"We're just as impatient as you are to win here," Penner said. "We understand we have a lot of work to do this offseason to get better."

Payton will guide the team through that process, and Penner said it was "very impressive" how Payton established a culture and led the team back from early adversity.

"Probably the biggest thing here, in terms of how I think about the future and this organization moving forward, is that he is establishing a culture here based on performance, excellence, hard work, accountability and, again, his focus on winning," Penner said. "A lot of times that does come out in a very passionate and intense way. I know you all see that. We see it a little bit differently. We see some of that in the building as well, but we also see another side of him. The messages that he has to our players are terrific. He has a great sense of humor. He uses historical anecdotes. So we get to see both sides of that, but at the end of the day he's focused on winning, and I love that passion."

Penner also spoke highly of the partnership Payton and Paton have built and in Paton's ability to help add to Denver's roster.

"That relationship between head coach and GM is critical," Penner said. "I was impressed with the way that they handled going from free agency to the draft. It was great to see a number of young players that George and his staff had drafted previously step up and play key roles. So I thought there was improvement this year, and I think George can help us build a winning roster here."

As Penner looks forward and hopes to see the Broncos build on their 2023 success, he said there's plenty of reasons for fans to be optimistic about the future of the franchise.

"[No.] 1, we improved our win total," Penner said. "I expect that to go up next year. We broke some key streaks. It was great to get the win against the Chiefs. We have some other humps to get over in the future. We had some young players emerge, significant improvement in special teams. On the medical side, we haven't talked about that much, but last year [at] the end of the season, we were really clear that we've got to improve that for next year. We'd been one of the most injured teams for the last five to six seasons; this year we're in the top in a lot of the metrics. So [there was] significant improvement there. But the biggest thing is the culture that sets the floor for how we can go from here, and on that front, again, I'm very encouraged.

"We know we have a lot of work to do to get to where we want to be. This offseason is going to be a busy one."

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