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'We've got to get this right': Owner & CEO Greg Penner, GM George Paton share what they are looking for in Broncos' next head coach


ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — After the Broncos parted ways with Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett on Monday, the franchise will begin the search for its next head coach immediately. 

"It's also important for us to be realistic about where we are and the work that needs to be done, and that starts today with our head coaching search," Owner and CEO Greg Penner said Tuesday. "I'll lead a thorough process with input from our other owners and from [General Manager] George [Paton], who I have confidence in as our general manager. This will be a crucial offseason for us across our football operations; that's coaching, personnel and support staff. We've got to get this right."

In leading the search, Penner will bring a new perspective after the Walton-Penner Family Ownership Group purchased the franchise in August. On Tuesday, he spoke extensively about how much he's been able to learn about working in football in that time, but Penner — also the chairman of Walmart's board of directors — also noted that his background in the corporate world will inform his thinking about the process.

"I've worked with a lot of great CEOs, and it starts with really strong leadership," Penner said. "I think that's going to be the most critical factor here in a head coach. Obviously the X's and O's are important, but we need a strong leader for this organization that's focused on winning. That starts with culture, it's instilling a sense of accountability, discipline, and we need an identity on offense. At the starting point, it's got to be about culture and leadership, and those characteristics are what we've focused on the most." 

Another potential factor could be whether a candidate has previous experience as a head coach. Paton said prior head coaching experience will be a highly regarded quality in potential candidates, but it will not be a requirement.

"If you have experience, it helps," Paton said. "It certainly helps, but it's not necessary. We're going to keep an open mind in this search, and if there's a quality candidate that's experienced, yeah, sure, certainly, but we're not going to limit ourselves just to the experienced candidates."

Paton identified Defensive Coordinator Ejiro Evero as a candidate that they hope to interview, but he emphasized the importance of exploring as many options as possible.

"Obviously experience is helpful, especially based on where we're at as a football team, but we're not going to limit ourselves," Paton said. "There's so many other good candidates, so we're just excited to speak with them all and look forward to the process."

As Penner, Paton and the committee — which will also include Owner Condoleezza Rice — search for candidates that are a good fit for the organization, they will also have to prove that the Broncos will be a good fit for the candidates.

With six consecutive losing seasons and a seven-year playoff drought, candidates will have to buy into the organization's commitment to restore a winning culture. Paton explained that while there is a lot of work to be done, the franchise's history of success and strong roster foundation make Denver a desirable coaching destination.

"We have a lot to offer here, and it starts with ownership and the resources they're going to put in to bring us back a championship," Paton said. "They're going to give us everything we need, this ownership group — Greg, Carrie [Walton Penner], Rob Walton, and then it's just an iconic organization. It's an easy sell. The fan base and the winning tradition, that's an easy sell.

"And then, I can sell this roster. We have a bunch of good young players. We have a long way to go, and we've got some good veteran players as well. I think we have a foundation in place where if we get the right head coach and we make some sound moves on the personnel end, that we can turn this thing around."

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