Former head coach gives honest thoughts on his time with the Denver Broncos

Former Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett speaks on his one-year stint in Denver.
Denver Broncos v Tennessee Titans
Denver Broncos v Tennessee Titans / Andy Lyons/GettyImages

To say last year's season for the Denver Broncos was a disaster, would be an understatement, at least on the offense and coaching side of things. While the defense was able to mold into a consensus top five unit over the course of the season, the team continuously failed to meet expectations and was the cause for an embarrassing 5-12 record on the year. And yes, injuries played a big factor however, the offense was never able to find their groove under first year head coach Nathaniel Hackett.

Earlier this offseason, Hackett was officially hired as the next offensive coordinator for the New York Jets following a rough 4-11 record in the Mile High that led to his termination. While most believe that the hire of Nathaniel Hackett by Broncos GM George Paton was largely in part due to the belief that it would lure 4X MVP Aaron Rodgers to Denver, it simply didn't pan out for Hackett and the Broncos. Instead, the organization is now moving forward with a younger QB in Russell Wilson and head coach Sean Payton who is a much more proven play-caller and leader than Hackett has ever been.

In a recent interview with NFL sportscaster Peter Schrager on The Season, Hackett voiced his honest thoughts on his tenure with the Denver Broncos and what he was able to gather from the roller coaster of an experience.

"In the end you've got to win. That's what it's all about. Whether you're a coach or a player, you've got to win and we [Broncos] didn't win enough. I look back and there were so many things that I learned from my time [in Denver]. I think it was a great experience. You never know what it's like until you're in that chair and it was an honor to be in that chair even though it was a limited time. You continually take all the things that you went through and the things you can potentially do better. As a coach, we question everything. We always want to try to make ourselves better and I think there are a lot of things that are going to make me better. I think everything happens for a reason. To be able to have an opportunity with the New York Jets and be back with Aaron [Rodgers], that's unbelievable."

Nathaniel Hackett on his time in Denver

Obviously nobody can speak on what specifically Hackett claims he learned from last season's offensive woes because none of us were directly in his shoes. Perhaps, Hackett went back to the drawing board following the season and was able to correct things on film and identify where the offense went wrong. From an outside looking in, there were plenty of other fixable mistakes such as clock management, control of the locker room, and overall coaching and game planning -- all areas Hackett failed the team.

However, the scheme fit between Nathaniel Hackett and Russell Wilson never made sense, especially for what Hackett's offense demands of its quarterbacks. Hackett simply never tailored his offense to Wilson's strengths and thus the offensive identity was never to be found in 2022 until after Hackett was fired. In the final two games of the season under interim head coach Jerry Rosburg and former OC Justin Outten, the Broncos averaged 27.5 points per game as opposed to an abysmal 15.1 points per game when Hackett was calling plays. Wow.

As a Broncos fan, you can take Hackett's words two ways. Very respectful way to address his time in Denver or an attempt at excusing his failure. Calling last season a "great experience" is definitely an interesting choice of words however, I understand where he's trying to get at. I respect his mindset in which he is trying to pull the positive learning experiences from the situation however, you have to be real at some point and we all know last season was not a "great experience" for anybody in and out of Dove Valley.

Also, repeating "everything happens for a reason" throughout the podcast when referring to his firing leading to his reunion with Aaron Rodgers is a bit frustrating. Yes, this may be apart of his spiritual beliefs which is completely fine, but it's almost as if he's trying to hint that his firing was a good thing and that his poor performance as a head coach is the reason that put him where he belongs -- reunited with Aaron Rodgers.

Later in the episode, Hackett also took a sneak jab at some fans who have critiqued his coaching saying, "There's only so many things a coach can control, regardless of what anybody likes to admit." While this is true, there were so many factors well capable of his control in 2022, yet he let get out of his reach. For instance, play-calling was horrific by Hackett at critical moments in the first half of the season among man other things previously mentioned. If you want to see a head coach taking proper full control of their franchise upon immediate arrival, take Sean Payton for example, in both New Orleans and Denver.

All in all, I commend Hackett for his devotion to the Broncos and understand that he wanted nothing more than to win football games in Denver. While I know he means well, he certainly could have used a better choice of words when addressing his time in Denver. Thankfully, the Broncos are in much better hands with Sean Payton leading the way and will ensure a "great experience" in 2023, not by Hackett's standards.

With Nathaniel Hackett calling plays in New York, the Broncos are officially set to host the Jets in Week 5 of this upcoming season in a highly anticipated matchup. We'll see how many things Hackett can control against Denver's hungry defense...

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