The Denver Broncos were thoroughly embarrassed by the Kansas City Chiefs in the first half on Sunday afternoon in the Mile High City. Denver fought back, but still lost 34-28.

That brings KC’s win total to 14 straight over the Broncos, dating all the way back to 2015. Patrick Mahomes, now in his sixth season, has never lost to the Broncos.

Which says as much about Mahomes’ special ability as it does about Denver’s complete ineptitude as of late.

And yet, even with today’s troubling trouncing at the hands of the Chiefs — which wasn’t as close as the score indicates — there’s no way George Paton will be fired this year.

On top of that, there’s about a snowball’s chance in hell that Russell Wilson is cut at the end this offseason.

It may not be the answer some Broncos fans want to hear, but it’s just the simple truth.

First on Wilson.

Man, what a tough way to end the contest for him today.

Wilson played arguably his best game in a Denver Broncos jersey today: Going 23-of-36 for 247 yards with 3 TDs and 1 INT. He also ran for 57 yards.

Then, his day was ended prematurely. The Broncos attempted to complete an almost impossible comeback, starting down 27-0 and were trailing 34-21 when Wilson was hit hard and suffered a concussion when his head hit the ground.

But, Wilson’s struggled all season long in Denver before today. In fact, he’s arguably been the worst QB in the NFL this year. His passer rating and QBR are bottom-5, as was his touchdown total (8) going into Sunday’s game.

His play has been so poor that Broncos fans are frustrated to the point of wanting to cut Wilson.

Now, for those in favor of doing just that — only 12 games into his tenure in Denver — there is technically a way the team could do it. As our Zach Segars points out, the Broncos could cut a ton of players (and their pay) and have some money to play with:

But, before cutting four starters and restructuring more, know this: Cutting Russell Wilson would mean $107 million in dead money for 2023 if cut pre-June 1. If he were cut post-June 1, the team would have a $39M dead money number in 2023 and be saddled with $124 million in dead cap through 2028. That’s what would force George Paton to make all those other cuts mentioned and still be in a tough spot for years to come.

Cutting Wilson even post-June 1 in 2023 would mean a dead money hit of about 20% the next two seasons, and then around 10% of the cap the following two years: What GM is going to make that move and effectively tie one hand behind his back?

If Paton wants to indeed cut Wilson, which he has not indicated he does, the logical time to do so would come after the 2024 season, not 2023.

And for Wilson, Paton likely wants to see what he can do with a new head coach, new play-caller and new teammates. He’s got to play at least 2023 in Denver, almost certainly.

Now, onto Paton himself.

It’s only his second season as GM, and in those two years, he’s done a lot to help the team.

His 2021 draft class was arguably the best of the year, and while 2022 wasn’t quite as good, there’s still time for more players to emerge from each.

Paton’s been strategic and aggressive in free agency. He traded for Teddy Bridgewater to compete (and win) the starting QB job last season, signed Ronald Darby and Kyle Fuller and then re-signed Justin Simmons in 2021.

This year, he made what everyone expected to be a blockbuster trade for Russell Wilson which hasn’t panned out the way he’d hoped. He also gave Wilson an insanely massive contract before he’d played a down in Denver, which was a bit of a misstep. Then he also signed Randy Gregory, DJ Jones, K’Wuan Williams and others, too.

But the biggest issue Paton has so far on his resume was hiring Nathaniel Hackett.

Hackett was a promising, young head coach who seemed to be the polar opposite of Vic Fangio. Not only is Hackett an offensive head coach — Fangio was defensive — but Hackett was the happy-go-lucky coach when Fangio was the old stick in the mud.

It became quickly obvious that Hackett couldn’t hack it as a head coach.

His play-calling was awful until he handed it over to Klint Kubiak. His game management has been atrocious, wasting time or timeouts, depending on the game. And his personnel decisions have been full of head-scratching moves.

And that’s the crucial part. The Broncos offense has been pathetic, but it’s his offense. His plays. His personnel decisions.

Many people want to point at Wilson when it comes to the “why” the offense is so horrible. But, really, it’s Hackett’s fault first and foremost.

So, now comes the change Broncos fans want most.

Hackett will almost certainly be let go at the end of the season, or even before.

Paton will then hire his second head coach. He is safe — per Adam Schefter as well as Ben Allbright — and will get a second chance on a head coaching hire.

If Paton chooses correctly, he’ll kill two birds with one stone.

The Broncos GM needs to hire a head coach that can not only revitalize Denver’s culture, but revive Wilson’s play, too. If he can do both simultaneously, Paton will be lauded as a great GM — just as he was after the 2021 NFL Draft, and immediately after the Wilson trade — and the Broncos will be back in the playoffs sooner rather than later.

For now, Broncos Country just has to wait and suffer through another losing season. With any hope, 2023 will bring a bright orange and blue sunrise in the Mile High City.