Denver Broncos: Loss of control may have been final straw for Hackett
With the news of the Denver Broncos firing Nathaniel Hackett, one may consider the sideline/post-game drama as the possible final blow for the head coach.
Though coming at a surprising time, with just two games left in the 2022 NFL regular season, Monday morning’s news that the Denver Broncos had decided to part ways with head coach Nathaniel Hackett was a welcome surprise for most of Broncos Country.
At a 4-11 record after the team had heavy playoff aspirations under Russell Wilson, this may be the most disastrous season in franchise history, and this move was the right one, though a crushing blow for Hackett to be fired the day after Christmas.
However, the writing was truly on the wall for Hackett after the Broncos were humiliated on national television by the Los Angeles Rams in a 51-14 rout on Christmas Day, certainly souring the holiday for many fans, though the firing was likely a small consolation gift.
While the embarrassing performance by the team on both sides of the ball certainly contributed to the team’s decision to let Hackett go before the conclusion of the season, perhaps what was truly the final blow for Nathaniel Hackett was the pure loss of control and discipline that was displayed by the team on Sunday.
There was no more hiding the fact that Hackett had lost total control of the locker room.
It began with a heated confrontation between backup QB Brett Rypien and offensive lineman Dalton Risner in the third quarter. Caught on footage, Risner shoves Rypien, before being shoved by running back Latavius Murray in response. Risner is caught yelling “Do something, Brett! Do something!”
While this was addressed in the post-game pressers as “miscommunication”, that feels like a pretty big stretch.
Certainly not the finest moment for the Denver Broncos’ 2022 Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee.
Things only got worse following the game when linebacker Randy Gregory and offensive lineman Oday Aboushi got into a heated argument and exchanged punches. Though both Gregory and Aboushi have been handed a one-game suspension by the league, the damage was done.
Even worse, Gregory seemed to brag about his behavior to the media following the game: “Y’all want to know if I hit him in the mouth–I did” (per the Denver Post).
It also doesn’t feel like it was that long ago that this same conversation was being had after the heated exchange between Mike Purcell and Russell Wilson weeks back, where it seemed as if tensions had finally boiled over after the defense was consistently expected to save the day, as the offense remained stagnant, and frankly, looked incompetent week in and week out.
This exchange happened right behind Hackett and never seemed to even be acknowledged by the coach.
Between evident tension in the locker room and bragging about poor behavior, it became painfully clear on Sunday that Nathaniel Hackett had clearly lost control of this team, and that the already-sinking ship had finally hit the ocean floor.
While the humiliating display the team displayed on the field certainly played a big part in Hackett’s firing, it feels as if the loss of control in the locker room was what may have been the nail in the coffin.
The reality of the situation is that while the team will hope to leave the 2022 season in the rearview mirror, the struggles of Russell Wilson and the offense will be at the forefront of players’ minds. The next head coach of the Denver Broncos will need to establish a healthy locker room quickly.