First off, I am glad the Denver Broncos won their home opener. An ugly win is still a win and winning is hard in the NFL. That said... Houston, we have a problem.
Through two weeks we have witnessed some of the worst coaching in Denver Broncos history. This doesn’t feel like a “work the kinks out” kind of situation either. We’ve seen that with new coaching staffs before. No, this is a systemic management problem that may not even be fixable during this season.
The only guy who could fix it is Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett, but the answer is likely one he won’t want to hear. He likely needs to give up playcalling and focus on game management. I am convinced both areas are suffering with Hackett calling the shots there. The problem is that none of his coaches have experience in their new positions this season, including himself. That means Hackett needs to be more of a direct manager in games and less focused on calling every single play.
Let’s take a tweet recap of all of the times people were scratching their heads or shaking their fists and I’ll be sure to limit the number I include here. There were just too many this game.
FIVE goal-to-go situations so far this season.— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) September 18, 2022
Three field goals.
Nine of a possible 35 points.
And the shotgun at the 1-yard line HAS. GOT. TO. GO.
How do you have two delay-of-game penalties on field-goal attempts in a single game?— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) September 18, 2022
This is insane.
That last sequence was an absolute $hitshow.— Vic Lombardi (@VicLombardi) September 18, 2022
-the option with Beck?
-54 yard FG attempt
-nope. Delay of game.
-59 yard FG attempt
What. Was. That???
Hackett wouldn’t let the kicker kick a 59 yd fg in Denver, but a 64 yarder in Seattle. That’s the play?— shannon sharpe (@ShannonSharpe) September 18, 2022
Hackett might be generational. We've never seen mistakes like this so early. One to watch.— Kevin Clark (@bykevinclark) September 18, 2022
Denver coaching staff had to burn their second TO because they couldn't sort out their punt team personnel. Had no one back deep to return and couldn't decide whether to send Montrell out or have someone else come off the field— Zach Segars (@Zach_Segars) September 18, 2022
Yuck Yuck Yuck
Denver's used all three of its timeouts with 7:38 left to go. Last one comes staring down a delay of game penalty.— Parker Gabriel (@ParkerJGabriel) September 18, 2022
Surely won't need those down the stretch.
The crowd was counting down the play clock before the Broncos’ first-and-10 at the Houston 42. Like a Duke basketball crowd counting down the shot clock to help remind its team to get a shot off.— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) September 18, 2022
Three pass plays from the 26 — two incompletions and a sack.— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) September 18, 2022
The sack at least keeps the clock running, but … what?
The crowd counting down the play clock is helpful and embarrassing— Mike DeCicco (@MikeDeCicco) September 18, 2022
Per @pfref, the 25 penalties for the Broncos over the last two games are the most in a two-game span in team history.— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) September 18, 2022
This is just a snapshot of the game today. A mix of poor playcalling in situations and poor game management overall. Nathaniel Hackett might be a great playcaller and a great head coach, but he is clearly terrible doing both right now.
A head coaches most important job is running the whole team, not just one side of the ball. It is his job to make sure things get done that need to get done. Like having a kick returner on the field for a punt or making a critical decision on the field to either go for it or kick a field goal, without having to burn timeouts. These tasks are not being done well by his inexperienced staff, so it is on the head coach to, well, coach.
All of this adds up to something that I believe Hackett won’t be able to fix in a week or even in a month. Gaining experience takes times and Denver is out of time as they head into a prime time matchup in Week 3 against a much better football team in the San Francisco 49ers.
So my advice to Hackett would be to give playcalling duties over to his offensive coordinator, Justin Outten, and start managing the game as a head coach should. That might be the quickest “fix” he could implement to help mitigate all of these in-game issues that have frustrated us.
The NFL is the most competitive league in existence. These miscues will begin to cost games. Heck, I would argue it has already cost them a game in Week 1. As a fan, I’m more than concerned at this point and I don’t think these issues will get resolved overnight.
I’m take a strong position here, but what do you think about this? I am open to ideas here. Something clearly has to be done and soon. Let’s debate in the comments section below.