Good morning, Broncos Country.
The Broncos are a bonafide sh*tshow and yesterday’s head coach firing - followed by pink slips for Dwayne Stukes and Butch Barry - is only the latest evidence of that.
Andrew Mason wrote a great piece yesterday highlighting six “tiny little fires” that foreshadowed this ending long before December.
As always, a gem from @MaseDenver:— Doctor of Words (and tights) (@docllv) December 27, 2022
"Hackett is a good man. But his tenure will be remembered as one of the biggest debacles in Broncos' history. And the signs of disaster were present long before the actual end." https://t.co/SxSlphZ2uQ
I remember complaining about the 64-yard field goal against Seattle as being a really bad sign. Not even primarily for the ridiculous odds against making a 64-yarder. Mase had an interesting stat - since 2012 kickers attempting field goals of at least 60 yards in open-air stadiums were 10-of-45, a 22.2 percent gamble over going for it on 4th-and-5, which teams convert 46.5 percent of the time on average.
Instead I feared that if a head coach - and quarterback for that matter - would listen to a kicker just tell him that he needed the ball at a spot in order to make a 64-yard field goal, that the coach and QB were drastically unfit for leading the team. I like Brandon McManus, but the coach should have made the decision based on known outcomes and not on a kicker saying he could kick from a spot almost no kicker has done. And one McManus has not made in a game.
In hindsight, of course, that fear was exactly at the root of the problem.
But as Mase points out, the signs of that specific ending playing out in a game were hinted much, much earlier.
He goes back to the day Russell Wilson was introduced as the new quarterback:
But when Hackett strode to the lectern, he showed a sign of how the relationship between coach and player might not be what was needed.
Nathaniel Hackett: “WOW! Come on, you all, Russell Wilson!"— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) March 16, 2022
...it was a sign of things to come. As the months progressed, the Broncos needed a forceful presence who could get Wilson in line. Instead, their coach sounded more like a fan or an eager young staffer.
Fast-forward to the Christmas Day game against the Rams - featuring poor play on both sides of the ball, skirmishes between teammates on the sideline as well as fights with the other team - and the franchise meltdown seems all too predictable.
From poor clock management, to a record number of penalties game after game, to a locker room breakdown, the problems of a “players’ coach” once again became all too revealing.
As Mase noted, Hackett is “a good human” and did try to change things by handing over duties he was out of depth for. But that left him with nothing really to do but be just another teammate to a locker room full of guys needing a leader.
“Hackett is a good man. But his tenure will be remembered as one of the biggest debacles in Broncos’ history. And the signs of disaster were present long before the actual end.”
Now a new guy is going to have come in and not make the same mistakes but still earn the trust of a beaten-up and disheartened locker room that doesn’t seem to believe in its multimillion-dollar QB.
Good luck with that, Greg Penner.
Lets just look at the top of the NFC and AFC— Scotty (@Skotty_Payne) December 27, 2022
Eagles 1st time HC
49ers 1st time HC
Vikings 1st time HC
Giants 1st time HC
Bills 1st time HC
Bengals 1st time HC
Chargers 1st time HC
Ravens 1st time HC
Miami 1st time HC
It's not very short. I just named all the current ones lol https://t.co/cdf1Eonjy1
The six tiny little fires that turned into a scorching mess and fried Nathaniel Hackett - DenverFan
Hackett is a good man. But his tenure will be remembered as one of the biggest debacles in Broncos history. And the signs of disaster were present long before the actual end.
Bad partnership with Russell Wilson doomed Nathaniel Hackett’s Broncos tenure - The Athletic
Signs of an ill fit between coach and quarterback were visible from the start of the season and proved too significant to correct.
Which NFL GMs have helped and hurt their teams the most in 2022? - The Athletic
The Broncos' George Paton has a mess on his hands in Denver, but general managers in Philly, Kansas City and elsewhere are faring better.
Raiders coach Josh McDaniels doesn't dismiss possibility of benching QB Derek Carr
Raiders coach Josh McDaniels was asked point blank Monday whether he would consider benching Derek Carr. and didn't exactly give a rousing defense in favor of the quarterback.
Chargers clinch first playoff berth since 2018 season
The Los Angeles Chargers have clinched an AFC wild-card berth with a victory over the Indianapolis Colts on Monday night.
Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa in concussion protocol after showing symptoms on Monday
Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is back in concussion protocol, head coach Mike McDaniel announced Monday. The QB's status for Miami's Week 17 matchup against the New England Patriots is now in doubt.
Bill O'Brien emerging as option for Patriots offensive coordinator in 2023
Bill O'Brien, the current offensive coordinator at Alabama, is a strong option for a return to the New England Patriots in 2023, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reports.