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Time for change: Nathaniel Hackett must surrender play calling duties or his position as head coach

The Denver Broncos coach insists everything is fine with his offensive strategy while anyone with eyes begs to differ

NFL: Denver Broncos at Las Vegas Raiders Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Famous theoretical physicist Albert Einstein, one of the most brilliant men to have ever lived, is largely credited as defining insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Denver Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett is not exactly an Einstein.

Whether Einstein ever actually said those words is beyond the point, as the premise of that quote is something quite simple: a failing strategy won’t be fixed by doubling down on it. The narrative and outcome will only change when the strategy and planning does.

Hackett believes otherwise.

It isn’t that he is accepting failure, per se, it’s just that he’s failing to accept his strategy as the failure it so obviously is. He told media following the week 7 loss to the New York Jets that given the short week, he plans to keep the “status quo” as the team travels to London to face the Jacksonville Jaguars.

In other words, the same strategy that has produced the worst scoring offense in the NFL? Yeah, we’re gonna stick with that.

This, bluntly put, is unacceptable and should not be tolerated by the Penner-Walton ownership group or general manager George Paton. The arrogance to look at the body of work the Broncos offense has put on the field this year and think, “This is fine” should have everyone above, around, and below Hackett fuming.

He continues to shoot out the line “it’s on me first and foremost” with every loss and every poor offensive performance, and yet, he plans to do nothing to fix it.

This is essentially like getting 3 citations for public intoxication for 3 straight weekends, admitting that you need to be better and smarter, but that you’ll still go out drinking and just hope you won’t look so drunk. Sorry, Coach, that isn’t how these things work. It does, in fact, start with you, and that means swallowing your selfish pride and turning the offensive playcalling duties over to someone else while you try and figure out how to be a head coach before it’s too late.

His ego is going to (and should) make him a rare first-year head coach who gets fired mid-season u unless he shapes up. The man literally attempted to take ownership only to immediately retract and say he doesn’t feel his philosophy is an issue. He did this in the same sentence, and while it’s been reported on multiple times already, the quote deserves to be shown again. It’s that bad.

“I always look at myself, first and foremost,” he said Sunday without an ounce of self-awareness. “If there’s something that we all agree that I might hold the team back or anything like that, sure. I don’t think that’s the case.”

Oh, it very much is the case. He may be not so subtly trying to defer blame to the players, but it’s not on them. It is glaringly obvious it’s the case that he is the one holding the team back, and everyone with a working pair of eyes except the man responsible can see it.

It’s just one blunder after another, and the man simply won’t admit he’s in over his head and delegate his play calling responsibilities. It’s reminiscent of the episode of American Dad when a hurricane blows through the town of Langley Falls.

The premise of the episode revolves around patriarch Stan Smith’s wife Francine trying to convince him to ask for help rather than do things himself, as he’s bad in a crisis. He refuses, and he proceeds to do the following:

  • Refuses to evacuate despite a flood
  • Attempts to anchor his house down to stop it from moving in the flood only to flip part of it upside down
  • Tries to open a window so they’ll float to the top of the house only to let a shark inside
  • Somehow lures a bear into the house to fight the shark only for them to end up teaming up
  • Tries to use exposed wiring to electrocute the animals only to screw up and electrocute his Alien friend Roger
  • Refuses his wife’s please to just get help and instead tries to impale the bear with his old college javelin only to miss the bear and hit Francine in the shoulder

The family is finally rescued by neighbor and outdoorsman Buckle, who uses a tranquilizer on the bear, the shark, and Stan, later telling Stan he wasn’t sure who was doing the most damage. The episode ends with Stan admitting he was wrong and that he should have listened but that in future incidents he still will try to fix everything himself.

It was an episode good for some belly laughs, but no one in Broncos Country is laughing at Hackett pulling his own Stan Smith strategy and refusing to delegate.

This shouldn’t be rocket science. Passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach Klint Kubiak has experience as a play caller, as he was the offensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings last season. The team finished 13th in total offense and 14th in scoring offense (25 points per game). Give the keys over to him, and hope for the best. It wouldn’t be the first time a change in responsibilities helped a team get right.

That, of course, is a best case scenario of best case scenarios, so expecting the same for Hackett is pretty far from realistic. Yet, the change may just be enough to help settle things down and get the offense moving in the right direction to at the very least get the team to look something resembling respectable.

Will the change be enough to save Hackett given the significant damage he’s already done? Maybe. Maybe it gets him to the end of the season, where he can hope for a hail mary type of rebound.

If he does nothing, though, and continues to be insistent on maintaining this status quo that has produced nothing but failure, even a 20+ point performance and win may not be good enough to keep him employed past the bye week.

It seems he has two choices: insanity or change. And the choice shouldn’t be a hard one.