During the first two games of the season for the Denver Broncos, head coach Nathaniel Hackett has struggled. The first-time head coach has not been very good with his in-game decision-making and has been criticized by it.
When the Broncos opened the season against the Seattle Seahawks, Denver’s offense moved the ball really well, especially with Russell Wilson throwing it. In the game, Wilson threw for 340 yards and a touchdown. The issue on offense, was there were two delay of game penalties because Hackett wasn’t getting the plays into Wilson in time.
In the same game, the Broncos were down 17-16 and needed only a field goal to win the game. With 1:03 left on the clock, Hackett had the option of putting the ball in his quarterback’s hands on fourth-down and five or allow Brandon McManus to attempt a 64-yard field goal, which would be the 2nd longest field goal in NFL history.
Hackett made the decision to run the clock down and allow McManus to win the game for the Broncos with just 20 seconds left. McManus would miss the kick and the Broncos would lose.
The following week, Hackett had more issues. Because the play calls were in coming in so late for the offense, the Denver crowd was counting down the play clock for Hackett and the offense because they had two more delay of game penalties. There could’ve easily been a total of five penalties if it wasn’t for the crowd chanting.
Time after time, Denver didn’t know when to run out for a field goal or go for it on fourth down. Bottom line, Hackett couldn’t make up his mind.
At one point, McManus lined up for a 53-yard field goal attempt, there was a delay of game and pushed the ball back for a 58-yard attempt. This time Hackett didn’t want to give McManus a shot after he gave him a shot from 64 yards at sea level in Seattle.
Denver was forced to burn three second-half timeouts with one reason because there were too many men on the field for a punt return.
Hackett has emphasized all week, that his staff has been working more and more on communicating better and getting the information to him quicker. So, what did Hackett do, he went out and hired Jerry Rosburg as a senior assistant to help with the game day operations, as first reported by 9News’ Mike Klis on September 24.
Who Is Rosburg?
Starting with the Cleveland Browns in 2001 as the special teams coordinator, Rosburg has become one of the most respected assistant coaches in the NFL. After spending a year in Atlanta with the Falcons in 2007, the 66-year-old was named the special teams coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens from 2008-2018.
According to Mike Klis of 9News in Denver, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh promoted Rosburg to assistant head coach in 2009. Harbaugh, being a former special teams coordinator himself, knew that he found himself a gem.
Baltimore would go on and win the Super Bowl of 2013, after beating Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning, and Tom Brady in the playoffs before beating the San Francisco 49ers.
In March of 2019, Rosburg announced his retirement from coaching, but after three years into retirement, Rosburg is back and employed by the Broncos and will be in the box Sunday night coaching against the 49ers.
Give Credit to Hackett
Most head coaches in the NFL have struggled in their first season and made mistakes. None to the extreme of what Hackett has done, but he’s owned up to them. Hackett didn’t try to make excuses and shy away from the game day operation issues. Instead, he went ahead and made changes quickly.
Klis also reported that after Denver’s ugly win against Houston last week, “Hackett reached out to general manager George Paton with the request of hiring a veteran coach who was seasoned in game-day management. Hackett was familiar with Rosburg through NFL coaching circles and talked on the phone about what a role could potentially look like.”
From there, Paton talked to his owner and CEO, Greg Penner, and was given the green light to hire Rosburg.
In just three weeks into the NFL season, Denver has made hopefully a dramatic change. If this doesn’t help, Hackett might need to give up play-calling duties to focus more on the game or it could be an early exit for Hackett after just one season.