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Taking the Reins: Reviewing the Loss to Seattle

Let’s look at our 3 keys to victory from last week & how the Broncos did or didn’t achieve them.

NFL: Denver Broncos at Seattle Seahawks Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Last Friday we talked about 3 keys to victory that the Broncos needed to achieve to take the reins and control the game against the Seattle Seahawks. They were, in short:

  • Play Complementary Football
  • Stop the Run
  • Nail the Details

So how did the Broncos do? Unfortunately, it’s a pretty messy mixed bag. Let’s dive in.

#1. Play Complementary Football

This is a simple ask, but a difficult objective to achieve: all 3 phases of the game need to pull their share of the weight. Last night, that didn’t happen.

I mentioned that the offense needed to sustain drives and score consistently. They excelled at the former, with 6 of 8 drives ending inside the Seattle 23. But they failed at the latter due to an utterly abysmal showing in goal-to-go situations. Red zone turnovers are the exact opposite of complementary football.

The ask for the defense was to dictate what Seattle could & couldn’t do, and to keep them out of the end zone. The performance there was... adequate. Geno Smith completing passes at will was incredibly frustrating, true. But Seattle failed to score a single point in the 2nd half. That’s something to build on.

All we ask of special teams is for them to be consistent & effective. The Broncos got a rocky start to that with a truly unfortunate return decision by Montrell Washington. But outside of that and a near block on a kick, the special teams unit generally did alright up to the final seconds of the game. From there, dividing blame between coach Hackett & Brandon McManus is a matter of significant debate this week.

NFL: Denver Broncos at Seattle Seahawks Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

#2. Stop the Run

The Denver Broncos did a pretty good job with this key to victory. Rashaad Penny ended the day with 60 rushing yards on 12 attempts. And while that 5.0 yards per carry figure isn’t lovely, Penny’s 2nd half line of just 7 rushing yards on 5 attempts speaks to just how effective Ejiro Evero’s halftime adjustments were in shutting down Seattle’s offense.

In the end, this is the one area where the Broncos really did take the reins and control the game.

#3. Nail the Details


DENVER BRONCOS VS SEATTLE SEAHAWKS, NFL Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

In Friday’s original post, I called out bad challenges, poor use of time outs, and clock mismanagement as hallmarks of the prior coaching regime that need to be avoided by Hackett & company. Well, at least our new head coach didn’t throw out a dumb challenge flag.

The rest of the game will be relatively forgettable in the end, but that 2 minute drill was as bad a display of coaching as we’ve seen in recent years. It’s something Nathaniel Hackett is going to have to work hard to live down. Wasting a full third of that time pointlessly running down the clock was bad enough. But choosing to hang the fate of the game on what would have been the second longest field goal in NFL history, rather than entrusting it to your $245M QB who passed for 11.7 yards per completion last night, is horrendous decision-making.

And while I know the timeouts while Seattle kneeled it out are more or less mandated by game theory, in case some miraculous mistake happens, they still felt like a bad joke after Hackett missed any opportunity to actually use them productively.

That said, let’s take the day to vent our frustrations about all that and then let it go. This was just Week 1, and it was Hackett’s first game running all of these details. Give him a chance to learn & improve. If he’s still doing that in the closing weeks of the season, we can all seethe together then. Until and unless that happens, let’s just unite in hoping for better.