Broncos Make Final Decision on Nathaniel Hackett’s Future: Report

Nathaniel Hackett

Getty Denver Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett walks off the field against the Tennessee Titans.

After one of the most embarrassing losses in Denver Broncos history on Christmas night, the team has fired head coach Nathaniel Hackett, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero on December 26.

The firing comes less than 24 hours after the Broncos were blown out in Week 16 by the Los Angeles Rams, 51-14.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, senior assistant coach Jerry Rosburg, “whom Hackett hired during the season to aid him in clock management strategy,” will assume the team’s head coaching role on an interim basis going forward.

Hackett was hired by the Broncos on January 27, 2022 and brought a sense of excitement to the building being known as a “players coach.”

While many people considered Hackett for his offensive expertise, his results on the field did meet the standard of the Broncos.

Under Hackett, the Denver offense has ranked 32nd in the NFL in points scored for nearly the entire season. There has never been an offense in franchise history to finish dead last in the league in scoring.

In the 15 games that Hackett coached this season, Denver only scored more than 20 points four times.

There were mistakes all season long that came from Hackett and this coaching staff. From mismanaging games and forcing kicker Brandon McManus to attempt a game-winning 64-yard field goal to players fighting on the sideline and on the field after the game against the Rams. It was clear that the Broncos didn’t have the right person leading the way.

Hackett’s firing makes him the fifth head coach since the merger in 1970 to not make it through his first season.

Broncos Ownership Makes a Statement

Owner and CEO Greg Penner released a statement on the firing of Hackett.

“Following extensive conversations with George (Paton) and our ownership group, we determined a new direction would ultimately be in the best interest of the Broncos. This change was made now out of respect for everyone involved and allows us to immediately begin in the search for a new head coach.”

After over 18,000 no-shows at Denver’s last home game against the Arizona Cardinals, the Broncos’ ownership explained that Broncos Country deserves better.

“We recognize and appreciate this organization’s championship history, and we understand we have not met that standard. Our fans deserve much better, and I can’t say enough about their loyalty during such a challenging stretch for our team.”

Penner also mentioned that he still believes in his general manager, George Paton.

“I will lead our head coaching search with support from our ownership group and George, whom I have confidence in as our general manager.”

Options to Replace Nathaniel Hackett Long-Term

Jim Harbaugh: Harbaugh is currently the head coach up at the University of Michigan with his Wolverines just one game away from competing for a national championship.

Almost getting the Minnesota Vikings head coaching job last season, Harbaugh has been one of the most popular names in the NFL world. One big question though is, would he make a jump back to the NFL for any head coaching job or will he get to pick and choose?

Everywhere Harbaugh has gone, he’s had success. After winning bowl games as a college head coach at Stanford, Harbaugh turned the San Francisco 49ers back into an elite winning team. Making it to the NFC Championship in his first season as an NFL head coach, Harbaugh got his 49ers to the Super Bowl the following season.

There’s no doubt that Harbaugh’s name will come up consistently after his college football season is done, but he might be able to pick and choose what head coaching job he’s going to want.

Sean Payton: Arguably the hottest name on the market and like Harbaugh, Payton will pick and choose where he wants to coach next year.

Denver would have to trade for him, because he is still under contract by the New Orleans Saints, but if the Broncos can get a trade done with their limited number of picks, Payton will likely receive a big pay raise.

Payton has had success in the NFL with quarterback Drew Brees and is considered one of the best offensive minds in the game. Winning a Super Bowl with Brees, Payton proved that you can win it all with a shorter quarterback.

Payton would be a great fit for quarterback Russell Wilson.

Dan Quinn: Last offseason, Quinn was arguably the hottest name that many thought would be hired as a team’s head coach. Instead, Quinn didn’t receive an offer he liked so he remained with the Dallas Cowboys as their defensive coordinator.

In his first season as the defensive coordinator for the Cowboys, Quinn turned the 28th ranked scoring defense into the seventh best in 2021. This season, Dallas owns another top 10 scoring defense.

Being a head coach before, Denver could stop their streak of hiring first-time head coaches like Vance Joseph, Vic Fangio, and Hackett.

Quinn will once again be one of the hottest names in coaching circles in the offseason because of his experience coaching the Atlanta Falcons.

There’s also a connection between Paton and Quinn.

Heading into the offseason, Penner and his ownership group will be making their biggest decision in their early era of owning the team.

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