2. Hackett has gotten a bit of a raw deal in one-score games
Put on your tinfoil hats, folks, it’s time for some conspiracy-level thinking here.
Let’s look at one of the most important statistics for the Broncos this season, which is the team’s record in one-score games. The Broncos are 3-8 in one-score games this season, which means that obviously, they have failed in the majority of those glorious opportunities they’ve been given. It also means that they have been in a lot of close games and aren’t getting blown out, per se.
That’s not exactly an endorsement, but let’s look at another very interesting factor that could be leading to the team’s struggles in one-score games.
Again, this may come across as an excuse, but there might be more there than meets the eye when it comes to blaming officiating on the Broncos really struggling badly in one-score games.
In the article shared by Mike Klis, he even concludes at the end by saying that while Hackett deserves his “proportionate” share of the blame for the team’s post-bye week blues, the issue with penalties for Denver this season seems to be more about which officiating crew they have gotten rather than the team simply being undisciplined in every facet.
Specifically, look back at the Broncos’ overtime loss to the Chargers in Los Angeles earlier this season. Referee Ron Torbert and his crew infamously called rookie cornerback Damarri Mathis for a whopping four penalties in that game and the Broncos were called for 10 penalties (for 151 yards) in total. To be fair, the Chargers were called for 9 penalties as well but for only 89 yards by comparison.
Three of Mathis’ pass interference penalties (some legit, some questionable) resulted in six Chargers points that ended up being the difference in the game.
Of course, this is just one game and one example but how many other games can you point to where an infraction cost the Broncos points or momentum on a drive? Is a lot of that on coaching or just simply the luck of the draw on a weekly basis of who is calling Broncos games?
That could certainly be an interesting factor when it comes to the team’s decision after the season about whether or not to keep Nathaniel Hackett in the head coach’s chair. When your team is called for 101 penalties totaling 856 yards in 14 games, of course that’s going to impact your ability to win close games.
Among those penalties, the Broncos have been called for:
- 9 defensive pass interference (tied for 3rd most in the league)
- 7 unnecessary roughness (tied for 4th most in the league)
- 23 false starts (2nd-most in the league)
Compare that to 2021 when the Broncos were called for just 6 DPI, 3 unnecessary roughness, and 18 false starts. Is that all on coaching? Again, we’ll see after the season what the front office and ownership determine.