Owner – Sean Payton vows to ‘raise the bar’ for Broncos

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — If Denver Broncos coach Sean Payton acts, and sounds, like he’s pushing the team harder, asking for more than it has produced in recent years and showing less patience with how things have been along the way, that’s just the way team owner/CEO Greg Penner wants it to be.

The Broncos had their first full team workout of training camp Wednesday and Penner made his feelings clear about what Payton has brought to the team since Payton was named head coach Feb. 3.

“I think it’s great that he’s got strong convictions and views from years of experience,” Penner said. “… His intentions are right. He started with we’re going to raise the bar and that is what we needed with this team and this organization.”

Walmart heir Rob Walton, Penner and Carrie Walton Penner led an ownership group that includes Mellody Hobson, Condoleezza Rice and F1 champion Lewis Hamilton in the $4.65 billion purchase of the Broncos last year. The group was formally approved by the league last August, so Penner said Wednesday it was his “first day of training camp.”

But Penner has consistently said accountability and expectations were going to be a big part of the new ownership’s plan for a storied franchise with eight Super Bowl appearances, but one that has lost at least 10 games in each of the last three years and hasn’t played in a postseason game since Super Bowl 50 to close out the 2015 season.

And to that end Penner said Payton has been what was needed on that front. Nathaniel Hackett was fired on Dec. 26, just 15 games into his first season as the team’s coach and Penner said he has given Payton the latitude to make the repairs.

“He came in and right away he changed the tone of the building,” Penner said. “He sets some very high expectations, everyone knows they’re going to be held accountable. At the same time, he’s a great teacher, always wanting to teach.

“… I’m a big believer in empowering people and he’s got years of experience in this league … For a lot of decisions, he makes the call and there are other things we’ll talk more in depth on.”

For his part Payton has said “I know what it looks like” for a team to succeed and that his sense is the Broncos players are ready for change. Since kicker Brandon McManus was released earlier this year, the Broncos do not have a player on the current roster who has appeared in a playoff game with the team.

“It’s a group, by and large … these guys want to improve, want to be seen in a different way,” Payton said. “Get the taste of last year, that’s over with.”

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