4 ways the Broncos could talk themselves into keeping Nathaniel Hackett
Members of Broncos Country are fed up with the team in 2022, there’s no question about it. The Broncos are not putting a good product out there this season. They are 3-8 in one-score games, and up to this point, they are 0-4 in AFC West matchups with two losses against the Raiders and one each against the Chiefs and Chargers with one matchup remaining. There’s a lot more to be said of the disaster that the 2022 season has been, and a lot of that reflects on head coach Nathaniel Hackett.
We’ve talked, at length, about a number of major issues with Hackett in the past.
- Has anyone on the offense really gotten better?
- Why would George Paton sign off on Hackett letting Mike Munchak (or even Chris Kuper, for that matter) out the door?
- Things with Russell Wilson have gone extremely poorly
- Hackett has replaced himself as the game manager AND offensive play-caller
Among plenty of other things throughout the course of the season, there’s enough “cause” to make Hackett one-and-done as the Denver Broncos’ head coach. But is that a foregone conclusion? Could the Broncos still consider keeping Hackett beyond this season? There are at least some things to consider.
4 reasons the Broncos might keep Nathaniel Hackett in 2023
1. Injuries have absolutely devastated this Broncos roster
If there’s one thing you simply can’t blame Nathaniel Hackett for this season, it’s been the devastating injuries affecting this Broncos roster. Anytime you go into a season, of course you expect injuries to take their toll as the season progresses. This is such a violent game and these players are putting their bodies on the line every single week. Injuries happen and they are an unfortunate reality of the game.
But the Denver Broncos have had an abnormally high rate of players getting hurt in recent years. As of the moment of this post being written, the Broncos have over $55 million of their 2022 salary cap sitting on injured reserve, over 25 percent of the team’s salary books for this season. To put that into perspective (because a good chunk of that is coming from Garett Bolles’ cap hit), the Broncos have the following starters or key contributors on IR heading into Week 16:
- RB Javonte Williams
- WR Tim Patrick
- WR KJ Hamler
- OT Garett Bolles
- C Lloyd Cushenberry
- DL Dre’Mont Jones
- CB Ronald Darby
- S Caden Sterns
- LB Jonas Griffith
- EDGE/ST Aaron Patrick
And plenty of other role players or key backups. The Broncos have also had to deal with guys who aren’t currently on IR missing substantial time this season like:
- S Justin Simmons
- EDGE Randy Gregory
- WR Courtland Sutton
- WR Jerry Jeudy
- QB Russell Wilson
- OL Quinn Meinerz
- OL Billy Turner
- TE Greg Dulcich
And again, plenty of others.
As far as this being an “excuse” for Hackett, I wouldn’t view this as much of an excuse at all. This is a valid reason why the team has been bad and it’s really out of Hackett’s control. You could kind of tell the war on attrition shocked even Hackett at his December 19 press conference when he was asked a question about rookie guard Luke Wattenberg stepping in the game, and he began to think through all of the offensive line reshufflings in his head on the spot, saying that, “It’s been a lot of moving parts. It’s been exciting…”
Exciting is one way to put it.
At the end of the day, you’re asking Hackett to go out there on a weekly basis and make chicken salad and the team’s most recent victory — a win over the (also very injured) Arizona Cardinals with an absolute shell of the initial 53-man roster — is perhaps one of the biggest notches on Hackett’s belt as an NFL head coach given the player personnel he was working with offensively.