The Denver Broncos have scored a total of six touchdowns in five games. Three of those came in a Week 4 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders, so if you remove that they’ve scored three touchdowns in four games. It’s beyond inept in today’s NFL to see such terrible offensive output.
The question I posed to our Mile High Report staff is who is more to blame? Russell Wilson or Nathaniel Hackett. There is likely a lot of blame to go around, but those two likely have the most effect on the game in terms of play calling and decision-making in game.
Personally, I think there is plenty of blame to go towards both coach and quarterback. Overall, I have been most frustrated by Hackett’s play calling in specific and critical situations. Wilson certainly hasn’t played well at times eithers, but Hackett could be adjusting his game plan towards higher percentage plays. I just feel like he’s too cute with his play calling sometimes and it kills drives.
Sadaraine: Nathaniel Hackett is without question more to blame. While Wilson did lay a stinker this Thursday, he’s balled out in other games (and I’d argue is one of the main reasons our two wins happened).But Hackett has consistently had this offense looking vanilla, inept, and like there’s a three-toed sloth behind the play calling headset.
Scotty Payne: Both. Hackett likely more, but Russ has been missing throws, open reads, and just not looking good. Even before last night’s debacle. Both need to get things straightened out. Russ isn’t going anywhere but Hackett is looking like a one and done coach.
Frankie Abbott: It falls on the entire offensive staff and Russell. I’d put more on other players but this is most of the same unit we saw last season and they are all playing less disciplined and with worse technique. Hackett brought them in so he receives the majority of fault. But Butch Barry, Justin Outten, Jake Moreland, Zach Azzanni, and Tyrone Wheatley are taking a promising young offensive nucleus and hurting their development.
Nick Burch: Hackett. Russ has at least shown some things in previous games. Hackett has been awful in every one. And that isn’t to say Russ shouldn’t share blame, because he, too, has underwhelmed. I’m beginning to wonder if he just doesn’t mesh with the other players on offense and it’s messing with chemistry. They are on totally different pages. A buddy of mine said he heard on the radio Russ has his own office with the coaches and doesn’t interact with the offense on a regular basis. I don’t know how true that is or if there’s more context, but not sure how I’d feel about that as a teammate.
Joe Mahoney: I’m going to blame the guy calling the plays. 16 three-and-outs in five games is a level of offensive ineptitude we haven’t seen in Denver since the league’s defensive coordinators figured out that Siemian couldn’t throw deep or outside.
Adam Malnati: This is a QB driven league, and if your QB can’t perform, you can’t win. We know this from the last 6 season in Denver. The worst QBs can destroy really good coaches. The worst coaches just aggravate the best QBs. That being said, a first time head coach that doesn’t make any effort to bring in any veteran coaching help is one that is asking to be blamed. There has been a lot of stupid football in Denver recently. Low football IQ stuff that just can’t happen. Throwing the ball when all you have to do is run it, let the clock tick down and then kick a game winning field goal is the perfect example of football stupid we have seen from Hackett. As Ron White told us, you can’t fix stupid. Until he proves he is actually football smart, the blame rests mostly with his stupid decisions.
Chad Workman: They’ve both had their moments, good and bad. Unfortunately, their good moments have yet to coincide. I do believe it’s both but since you asked for one, I’ll be an outlier again; it’s Russell Wilson.
Last night he inexplicably looked away from a wide open KJ Hamler on the last play of the game, overshot Jeudy for a would be touchdown and another big play, missed tight ends up the seam, and was consistently high, low, or wide on his throws. He mostly played well in the first half against Vegas, but still missed opportunities. In the second quarter, for example, on 3rd and 16 from the Raiders 18 yard line, he sees Jeudy on a corner against a cover 2 with nobody between he and the back pylon. The defensive back turns his hips inside, leaving his back to the sideline and Jeudy’s path, but Russ pats the ball before stepping up in the pocket and throwing elsewhere for a six yard gain (thanks to Tim Jenkins for breaking this down.)
And where was he in the second half? He’s not seeing the field well and has been remarkably inaccurate. He’s dealt with some drops from pass catchers, but even his adjusted completion percentage is only 71% (31st) per PFF. If he finds the correct receiver and puts a few more passes on target, it might be a bit of a different story.
Although I will add, Hackett’s offense has been quite vanilla. I’m disappointed in the lack of pre-snap motion and misdirection which is more common than not in todays NFL. With that being said, he has schemed players open but it does nothing if they don’t get the ball.
Ian St. Clair: On Thursday it was definitely both. But Wilson is the reason for two wins against Houston and San Francisco (aside from the defense). Hackett, on the other hand, is out of his element and in way over his head. All of the continued problems on offense fall on him. The team not executing, making silly mistakes, looking lost, indecision, and on and on and on are all on Hackett.
Ross Allen: I can’t imagine how much worse this team would look if the Broncos didn’t have Russell Wilson at the helm. They would be averaging less than 10 points per game if Drew Lock was still the guy. While Wilson’s play has been riddled with overthrows, bad decisions, and an overwhelming amount of check downs, Hackett has been doing anything but setting Wilson up for success.
Mike DeCicco: Both but Hackett slightly more. Russell is at like 49%.