1. Firing Vic Fangio, hiring Nathaniel Hackett was a mistake
By the end of the 2021 season, Broncos Country had enough of Vic Fangio’s staff, although I’m not sure everyone had specifically had enough of Fangio, himself. There were a number of times people — including myself — wondered out loud whether or not the team could have success with Fangio as the head coach if they could just get a quarterback in the building.
Instead of perhaps keeping Fangio, firing Pat Shurmur, and bringing in a new OC to coach Russell Wilson, Paton and the Broncos opted for a clean sweep of the coaching staff. At this point, that’s probably Paton’s most fireable offense to date. Some will argue about the Russell Wilson contract (more on that later), but I think this was the biggest flop so far for the Broncos’ GM.
And this is coming from a huge advocate of Nathaniel Hackett.
As of the 2021 season, the Broncos were at least beating bad teams. They were at least disciplined and not leading the NFL in penalties. Paton and the front office took a risk by hiring Hackett and a very inexperienced staff, at least by comparison to Fangio’s staff.
Oddly enough, how funny is it in hindsight thinking about how Fangio’s specific personality could be exactly what this Denver Broncos team needs right now to succeed?
Although it’s easy to love Nathaniel Hackett’s personality and positive attitude, it just hasn’t meshed well with the team and specifically Russell Wilson. It hasn’t resulted in wins. It hasn’t resulted in anything positive whatsoever, actually. There are some major indictments against this coaching staff right now, but the regression of everyone offensively is perhaps their biggest whiff.
George Paton was “torn” on the decision of whether or not to fire Vic Fangio. In hindsight, keeping Fangio around for one more year while the ownership situation sorted itself out wouldn’t have been the worst possible decision. As a matter of fact, it would have been a pretty great one by comparison.
You could also compound this whole issue by adding in the fact that one of the finalists for the Broncos’ head coaching job in 2022 was Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell, who was well-liked by assistant GM Darren Mougey. Mougey and O’Connell were college teammates, so their connection was obviously strong.
Not only that, but the Broncos didn’t interview guys like Doug Pederson, Mike McDaniel, and others. It didn’t make sense at the time to have a very slim list of candidates but the Broncos did. George Paton didn’t cast a wide enough net and didn’t interview arguably the best candidate from the cycle. If there’s any fireable offense, it’s that.