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Hackett: ‘It’s just one or two plays’ holding back this team

Head coach Nathaniel Hackett evaluated all aspects of his team and re-watched several of the first eight matchups - “We’ve been in every game.”

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Denver Broncos v Jacksonville Jaguars Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images

When the Denver Broncos headed into their bye week a week ago, they had some momentum.

They were coming off a close win over Jacksonville, the offense had scored a couple touchdowns in the red zone, and while the defense had played lights out again, it was the offense that had to “win” the game since it was coming from behind.

After the week off, head coach Nathaniel Hackett told the press he looked over everything during the bye and determined there are no real changes coming.

“Right now, we look back at that Jacksonville game. I thought we got into a really great rhythm. I thought there were some really great things that we were doing,” Hackett said Monday. “We want to build off that.”

A really great rhythm???

Some really great things???

Is Hackett even watching his offense? Yes, the offense scored. Yes, the offense looked competent, even borderline exciting, three different times. But … really great rhythm?

Oh, I don’t think so.

As a refresher, here is that game according to the Broncos’ offensive drives:

3 plays, -3 yards, punt

2 plays, 2 yards, interception on 2nd-and-8

7 plays, 22 yards, punt

4 plays, 9 yards, punt

13 plays, 75 yards, touchdown

9 plays, 36 yards, stopped on 4th down

10 plays, 98 yards, touchdown holy cow!

4 plays, -6 yards, punt

5 plays, 8 yards, punt

9 plays, 80 yards, touchdown!

Aside from the three touchdown drives, which I admit were impressive, the Broncos’ total offense of its other seven drives combined was 68 yards. Derrick Henry might just run that in his first snap this weekend.

There were not two drives in a row with a score, and two of the non-scoring drives couldn’t even accumulate a positive number for yardage.

That does not sound like rhythm to me. Nor “really great.”

Hackett does see converting on third down as a key to jumpstarting the offense, and I wouldn’t disagree. But we do disagree on generally why the o offense keeps ending up in third-and-long.

I would maintain it’s generally more about poor play calling on first and second down rather than bad execution on third down.

“No. 1 most important thing is third down. I think that has been a major Achilles heel for us,” Hackett said. “We’ve had some decent drives, then those three-and-outs all of a sudden show up and it’s really because we haven’t been able to convert on those manageable situations. We have to be better from that standpoint.”

He’s not wrong about that. But during the Jacksonville game, the average “yards to gain” on third down for the Broncos was 8.5 yards. That probably should be “manageable,” but not the way this offense has played the first half of the season.

In fact, anything four yards or more has seemed pretty unmanageable.

But the coach still didn’t want to make any changes to personnel or operations.

He’s expecting the players to just make those “one or two more plays” that will be the difference.

“I’m always looking at myself, No. 1,” he said. “I want to be sure that I’m helping the team get into a good position to be successful. Then just with all the players and coaches, making sure that we’re efficient. …These past games that we haven’t won, we’ve been right there. It’s one or two plays. If we can just correct those one or two plays, we will have a different outcome.”

He’s even talking about the playoffs.

“To put yourself in a position to get to the playoffs, you have to win, and you have to win a bunch of them,” Hackett said. “We have nine games available to us. I think it’s about what can you do individually to make yourself better to get us those one or two plays? We’ve been in so many games.”

That’s a fair point because there have obviously been multiple situations where not getting a penalty or not fumbling or not dropping the ball or not taking a sack likely would have meant a score for the Broncos or possibly prevented a score from the opponent - and all could have worked out to a win for the Broncos instead of a loss.

But then the coach will add things like this that make me wonder what he’s even watching with his offense:

“It was a great start in this past game versus Jacksonville. We had a couple of opportunities, guys made some big plays, and we need to build off that on offense, defense, and special teams,” Hackett said, while seemingly erasing from his mind the first four drives of that Jacksonville game. “I think it’s about what we can do as an individual, then as a unit and as a team. We have nine games left. It’s a] big season and a long season ahead.”

I want to believe Hackett is going to turn this around and the Broncos will “string together enough wins” that can just push them over the line and find themselves in their first playoff game in six years.

But listening to the coach evaluate his team during the week off doesn’t have me very confident things will be much different.


How do you believe the Broncos will respond after the bye?

This poll is closed

  • 8%
    9 more wins baby!
    (32 votes)
  • 44%
    I think they can string a few wins together, maybe even get TO nine wins overall.
    (162 votes)
  • 47%
    They should win the next three but will be lucky to win two more after that
    (174 votes)
368 votes total Vote Now

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