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Hackett shoulders blame for offensive Broncos offense

The Broncos coach continues to find ways to show he’s out of his element, this time in a loss to the Chargers.

DENVER BRONCOS VS LOS ANGELES CHARGERS, NFL Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

“First and foremost, it starts with me.”

Pick a Denver Broncos game, any game from the first six, where Nathaniel Hackett has said the new “We had a good week of practice” Who thought Hackett would have fans clamoring for Vance Joseph? Who thought Hackett would have fans wanting to bring back Pat Shurmur?

There are a lot of issues on the offensive side of the ball for the Broncos right now, but at least Hackett knows where to point the finger.

After the 19-16 overtime loss to the Los Angeles Chargers, if there’s anyone who has hope Hackett can figure this out, they’re in an exclusive club.

“First and foremost, it starts with me,” Hackett told the media after Monday’s loss. “I feel like I can do more and continually work to try to find the best schemes for our players. We will have to look at this game and see where some of those things broke down, but we have to come up with better plays for the guys and the guys got to be better at executing them. So it is a combination of all of us working together, coming together and make sure we are doing all the right stuff.”

Translation: Cliche answer, followed by empty and meaningless words.

Hackett has been saying this crap for six weeks, yet somehow it’s not getting better. In fact, one could argue it’s getting worse.

The point of a coach is to put your players in the best situation to have success. In the first half, it seemed Hackett and the offensive coaches did what they needed to do.

Russell Wilson looked and played like Russell Wilson. The Broncos offense looked like an NFL offense. There was fluidity and rhythm. You started to think, “Maybe they figured it out.”

But the second half is when Hackett regressed and failed in epic fashion. He saw what worked in the first half and somehow decided, “Nope, let’s not do that. Let’s try something else.”

On the most important possessions of the season, Hackett was more predictable in his play calling than Bob Ross painting a mountain scene.

Run, run, pass, punt.

When Hackett was asked why he went to the running game in the second half, he said this:

“Early, it seemed like we were not doing as well. The pass game was a little bit better. We started to get the run game going a little bit in the second half ...”


And news flash, no, the running game did not get going. At all.

Here were Denver’s offensive drives in the second half and overtime:

  • 3 plays, 8 yards, 1:33
  • 8 plays, 11 yards, 3:55
  • 4 plays, 0 yards, 2:07 (this drive started on the Chargers’ 29)
  • 4 plays, 9 yards, 2:07
  • 3 plays, 9 yards, 1:38
  • 3 plays, 3 yards, 1:34

That’s some master-level offense right there.

In overtime especially, you got the sense Hackett was playing for the tie.

Where was the same aggressive play calling from the first half?

Why did Hackett and his coaching staff stop letting Wilson cook, so to speak? No, Wilson was not great in the second half, but when every possession is “run, run, pass” there’s no way to get into an offensive rhythm. Not to mention, the defense knows exactly what you will do.

That’s on the play caller.

“I will have to look at the tape at that one,” Hackett said on the offense’s performance in the second half. “We have to clean that stuff up and see how many opportunities we had, if there was something else we could have gotten to. I felt like we had a good plan and in the end, it just did not come together.”

Hackett may not know how to fix the problems, but at least he knows who’s responsible.