Broncos spiraling out of control and Nathaniel Hackett’s seat is scorching
The Denver Broncos and head coach Nathaniel Hackett are not having a good time. Look, there’s plenty of blame to go around in the Mile High City right now. Russell Wilson has not been himself, the offense has fallen into the pathetic category, the team is wasting great defensive performances, and the Broncos are collecting penalties like they are the hottest commodity in the NFL. At some point, you’ve got to look at the true source of why things are the way they are when a team with a future Hall of Fame quarterback under center is looking discombobulated and nothing like a playoff team through six weeks.
The person coming into focus right now, beyond the quarterback with an absolutely massive contract, is head coach Nathaniel Hackett. Hackett’s seat is so hot in Denver right now — just six games into his time as head coach — you have Broncos fans on Twitter trying to think of just about any alternative than to have him in charge.
Denver Broncos may need to pull the plug on Nathaniel Hackett quickly
Hackett is an extremely likable guy who seemingly inherited a very enviable situation. After coaching back-to-back MVP Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay with the Packers the last few seasons, Hackett got his first head coaching gig in Denver where they immediately acquired Russell Wilson. Unfortunately, the way Hackett is managing the team so far has fans longing, yearning for Vic Fangio when at least the team was disciplined.
The Broncos lead the league in penalties by a wide margin. They are the worst offense in the league in terms of points per game. They are the worst red zone offense by a wide margin. Now, they are 2-4 and looking up at both the 4-2 Chargers and the 4-2 Chiefs. The season still has 11 games left, but at this point, it feels much more like these games are taking years off our lives than bringing joy to them.
Expectations are understandably high in Denver. The team won Super Bowl 50 and has no playoff appearances since that time. Russell Wilson was supposed to come in and lead the team back to the promised land, and we all assumed that things would click quicker than they have, and by that, I mean that things haven’t clicked at all in the first six weeks.
The Broncos are the same team in Week 6 as we saw in Week 1. They are not efficient in the red zone or efficient offensively, in general. They are undisciplined and highly penalized. Hackett and the offensive staff continue to make mind-boggling decisions, like throwing on 3rd-and-1 in overtime after Latavius Murray had just picked up nine yards on two carries the previous two plays. The team is making way too many untimely mistakes on both sides of the ball.
You have players on the sidelines visibly expressing their frustration weekly. Jerry Jeudy is on the sideline venting to Melvin Gordon. Albert Okwuegbunam has been inexplicably benched after not being utilized in the passing game whatsoever the first five weeks of the season. There is no short passing game to speak of. The team is missing basic blocking assignments and allowing free runners right into the face of Russell Wilson, who looks like he’s out there expecting to get hit in about two seconds on every passing play.
There are no play-action bootleg plays. The wide zone running game and runs outside the tackles are non-existent. Every yard feels like pulling teeth, and I simply refuse to believe that Russell Wilson is the primary reason the Broncos are so anemic on the offensive side of the ball.
We have to refuse to believe it because there’s no other option but Russell Wilson for the foreseeable future. Even if Russell Wilson’s play has declined somewhat, there’s no way he’s fallen off a cliff like it seems when he’s completing 3-of-11 passes in the second half and overtime for just 15 yards against the Chargers.
What would it take for the Broncos to let go of Nathaniel Hackett during the season? How bad do things have to get? How much incompetence offensively do we need to endure? How many games with 10 or more penalties? How many failed red zone attempts? How many questionable decisions using hindsight — letting Mike Munchak and Chris Kuper out the door, not retaining Curtis Modkins, and other questionable coaching decisions — will be ignored?
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After the game, Russell Wilson — for the first time — ditched the “Let’s Ride” that he always says at the end of every press conference. Even Wilson is fed up. He knows that winning is the only thing that matters right now and the Broncos simply can’t get out of their own way to do it. The ride is closed.