Hindsight is 20/20.
So is the entire sports world making fun of the decision to kick a 64-yard field goal - second longest distance ever kicked in a game in NFL history - when you have Russ “king of the 4th-quarter comeback” Wilson on the sideline.
Even Wilson’s old coach Pete Carroll was getting his defense ready for a fourth-down conversion attempt.
“I was surprised they took Russ out there at the end,” Carroll said after the game. “We weren’t thinking field goal there, we were thinking they were going for it on fourth down.”
Yeah, well, that would have been the smart decision.
As Broncos’ head coach Nathaniel Hackett acknowledged today, saying that going for the kick instead of the first down might not have been his finest move.
“Looking back at it, we definitely should have gone for it,” Hackett said Tuesday. “It’s one of those things where you look back at it and you say, ‘Of course we should go for it. We missed the field goal’.”
But the coach still doubled down on even thinking about kicking that 64-yarder, saying they “had a plan” and that was to get to the spot Brandon McManus said he could kick from - 46 yard line, left hash.
In fact, he’s more upset about the third down before that play where they lost yards to end up 3rd-and-13. Hackett had figured they would go for it on fourth down but then Javonte Williams hauled in eight yards to get right where BMac thought he could make a kick.
“Javonte makes a move, goes a lot farther than I think we had anticipated,” Hackett said. “We said 46-yard line was where we wanted to be, and we got there so we had to make a decision. We wanted to give it to Brandon, and we did. It didn’t work. It sucks but that’s a part of it.”
The coach admitted that ironically if Williams had gotten fewer yards, there would have been no decision other than to go for the first down.
“We all had the plan. ...we all knew that we had to get to the 46. I think that was the funny thing, when you look at it, you’re like, ‘Javonte...if he is one yard less, then we’re going for it.’ We would go for it, because we wouldn’t have hit the mark,” Hackett said. “I think that was the thing that you try to give yourself a plan, you want to believe in the plan, believe in what everybody thinks, and we all knew it. We got there and it was fourth down. Obviously, would love more opportunities, all those things. But in the end, that is what it came down to.”
#NFL Since 2004— Scott Kacsmar (@ScottKacsmar) September 13, 2022
Field goals of 64+ yards are 2/27 (7.4%)
63 yards: 4/16 (25%)
62 yards: 5/14 (35.7%)
61 yards: 8/24 (33.3%)
60 yards: 4/17 (23.5%)
60+ yards: 23/98 (23.5%)
Excludes aborted snaps
Following the game, Russell Wilson also seemingly supported the decision.
“We got it there; unfortunately it didn’t go in. I think he has the leg for it for sure. Just went a little left,” Wilson said, adding he believes in his coach. “I believe in what we’re doing. I believe in everything, and any time you can try to find a way to make a play on 4th-and-5, and five, that’s great too. I don’t think it was the wrong decision. I think he can make it. Obviously hindsight he didn’t make it, but if we were in that situation again I wouldn’t doubt whatever he decided.”
Hackett also reiterated he never doubted McManus when the kicker gave him the mark.
“We all know he has a big leg. He’s been kicking for a long time. I wanted to give him that opportunity. I wanted to give him a chance to be able to win the game right there. He had the distance; it just went a little bit left,” Hackett said. “It’s just one of those things that’s unfortunate, but that was our plan going into it. Obviously looking back at it, if you missed the field goal, you’re always going to wish you would have gone for it. If you would have gone for it and not gotten it, you wish you would have given him a chance. So that’s the crazy thing about this game.”
The head coach also showed no regrets for the wasted time. Since the plan was always to kick if they got far enough down there, he was looking to run out the clock.
“We wanted to be sure that we left no time for them. We had plenty of timeouts if we did need to utilize those,” Hackett said, repeating he was mostly mad about losing yards on the screen pass to Williams before that. “I would have liked to have gained some yards or even have an incomplete that means you get even more yards on that next play.”
Some thoughts on this...
I appreciate the coach admitting he made the wrong call, even if he doesn’t seem to get that the right call was always to put more trust in Wilson’s ability to convert than McManus’ ability to kick the longest kick he’s ever made.
And to rationalize running out the clock for that choice is insane.
I think part of the problem is that Hackett is letting some players - the wrong ones in this case - dictate his decisions and is apparently not paying attention to analytics when he should.
Hackett chose to listen to McManus tell him he could make a kick that he’s never made in a game over knowing that he has a proven comeback kid at QB waiting in the wings.
“When we looked at it, it’s about listening to the players, finding out where they are at, and what they can do,” he said. “That was something that we all agreed on. The fact that it was fourth down, and that was our one chance to decide that, and that’s why we did that.”
Next time listen to your QB, coach. I feel sure he’ll not let you make that mistake again.