We’ve been through enough seasons recently of the Denver Broncos head coach being under fire and pressure from the potential of losing their jobs, that we should be used to this type of coverage by now. On Thursday, General Manager George Paton was asked if he had lost confidence in rookie head coach Nathaniel Hackett and, predictably, he said the only thing he could say. He supports him 100%.
“I believe in Nathaniel [Hackett]. I support Nathaniel [Hackett] 100 percent,” Hackett said. “He’s been in this for seven games as a head coach. The scrutiny he’s faced is unprecedented. We have had four primetime games, so he’s kind of had to learn in front of the entire world. I really like how he’s kept the team together; they’re connected. He’s kept our building together, and I appreciate how he’s fought through that.”
That’s why I dislike these kinds of questions, because what else can Paton say here? Paton’s answer was good and factual. Hackett is a rookie head coach and had all of his rookie faults magnified by a ridiculous amount of prime time games the Broncos have had to start the season.
What do I find interesting is where Paton focused Hackett’s growth. He didn’t mention anything about the product on the field and chose to focus on Hackett’s ability to keep the team and staff together through the hard times.
“I see the day-to-day with Nathaniel [Hackett]. I see him in front of the team,” Paton said. “He’s kept this team—it’s hard to lose five games like we’ve lost. Nathaniel has great leadership, and he’s kept this team together. He’s kept his coaching staff—and really our entire building—together.”
At some point, Hackett needs to show he can produce a competitive product on the field. The only offense the team generates seems to be in the first half, which tends to typically be more scripted through the week of practice. When the adlib portion of calling a game starts, the Broncos offense completely goes to shit. That’s on Hackett and his inability to call plays in-game in any effective and sustained manner.
For now, however, he has the support of Paton and I would guess he remains the head coach until seasons’ end regardless. I could be wrong, though, depending on if Hackett’s ability deteriorates even further.
When asked about Paton’s comments, you could sense that Hackett feels the pressure. He chose to focus on pointing out how much help Paton has been to helping him grow into the role.
“Up to this point, George [Paton] has been an amazing partner throughout all of this—the good and the bad,” Hackett said. “You learn a lot about people throughout processes like this. We are growing as a team, and I am growing as a partner with [General Manager] George [Paton]. It’s great to work with him. He really has been great and supportive throughout this whole thing.”
That support will run out eventually and there is likely no one in the NFL that needs a strong win with a lot of offensive production than Nathaniel Hackett in Week 8. His chances to produce an offense worthy of an NFL franchise are running out.