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Paton doing the right thing not firing coaches, says former NFL GM

Randy Mueller, a former GM for the Saints and Dolphins, joined Broncos Country Tonight and affirmed the long-game George Paton must play as the season gets close to the mid-point.

DENVER BRONCOS, MINNESOTA VIKINGS, NFL Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Former NFL GM Randy Mueller joined the Broncos Country Tonight crew on Tuesday and offered some great insight into how GMs approach the trade deadline, decisions regarding coaches and selecting a team’s quarterback.

Benjamin Allbright opened up by asking Mueller, a former GM of the Dolphins and Saints, the decision-making surrounding whether to fire a head coach midseason, and Ryan Edwards asked how GMs send a message of accountability without shaking up the coaching ranks in some fashion.

To both, Mueller argued a GM has to have patience and look at what’s best for the team over the entire season rather than bend to fan pressure in the middle.

“I just don’t see how that helps the locker room,” he said. “I’m going to take less of what fans say and more of my pulse of the locker room.”

Changing decision-makers in the middle of the season has more disruptions than fans realize, Mueller pointed out, adding that changing the leader and changing the system in the middle may not be best for players.

“I just don’t see where it makes you better to make those kind of changes now,” Mueller said, adding it’s early enough the Broncos could turn things around.

Although that seems pretty optimistic given the level of play the last few games, Mueller is right to emphasize it’s Paton’s job to make these decisions and just because no one has been fired doesn’t mean he’s not taking a hard look at what change will need to happen ultimately.

“You need to keep people accountable and you need to ask the right questions. I am sure George is doing that. I know George well, and I know he’s asking the hard questions and trying to get them over the hump. Fans just need a little dose of patience.”

But Mueller also offered that Paton is showing he wants to push the team forward by making two trades already to help fill holes at linebacker after the position group was decimated with injuries the past two games.

“Broncos tried to get better,” Mueller said, noting he watched the Thursday night disaster and called the linebacker situation “an area of concern” in the understatement of the day. “They were out-played and out-executed at that position. They are out there trying to make deals, trying to be aggressive, trying to get better on the fly and that bodes well in the long run.”

Edwards and Allbright also pressed Mueller on quarterback decisions, specifically whether from a GM’s point of view he thought going after Deshaun Watson still made sense for the Broncos as well as his thoughts on choosing Teddy Bridgewater over Drew Lock for the starting quarterback.

Regarding Watson, Mueller doesn’t see any upside in trading away a number of draft picks for a guy whose legal troubles may very well prevent him from playing - likely this season and very possibly in the future.

“I just think it’s very risky,” he said, noting that he doesn’t understand why the Texans don’t make Watson play but understands why some teams may try to get him. “If you’re desperate enough, and some say the Dolphins are, they might make a deal, I don’t know.”

Edwards pressed Mueller on what he thought about Paton “letting” Vic Fangio choose the quarterback he preferred - which was Bridgewater - and go with the more “short-term” option even though the quarterback position affects the entire franchise long-term and can often be more of an organizational choice.

Mueller didn’t bite, though.

“I felt fine with it, and here’s why - those coaches lived through Drew Lock last year, and if you watched the tape of that, it doesn’t surprise me frustration level they had to feel,” he said, adding he guessed coaches couldn’t “expunge” that frustration from their memory.

Mueller also noted that he never liked imposing a quarterback - or any player - on his coaches.

“If I’m the GM, I’ve got to acquiesce a little bit to their thinking,” he said. “I think Vic had a better feel, Pat Shurmur had a better feel and George allowed them to have their input, and I totally respect that.”