American Football

Horse Tracks: Hackett’s fate was unfortunately predicted long before Week 16


Denver Broncos v Seattle Seahawks
Photo by Tom Hauck/Getty Images

Looking back there were signs – which we saw of course – but assumed could be fixed. That wasn’t really the case.

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.

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.

…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.

Broncos/NFL News

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
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