After two games, for the Denver Broncos, changes might be coming quicker than we might have realized.
Head coach Nathaniel Hackett has been struggling in situational conditions this season and it’s inexcusable. Everyone remembers his questionable decision during Denver’s first game of the season in which he ran the clock down for kicker Brandon McManus to attempt a 64-yard field goal to win the game.
In Denver’s second game, you couldn’t think it could get any worse, but it did. Multiple times throughout the game against the Houston Texans, Denver was called for multiple delay of game penalties because the play call was coming in late.
“Too sloppy by the offense, there were too many things that we just made it hard on ourselves,” Hackett said postgame.
There were plenty of times that players on the field didn’t know what to do in certain situations for example, Denver was lining up for a field goal from 54 yards out, but the kicking unit got onto the field so late due to Hackett not making a quick decision. That turned into a delay of game penalty to bring the ball back five more yards. After the whistle was blown for the penalty, Brandon McManus still kicked a practice kick and drilled it right down the middle.
Because it was going to be a 59-yard field goal, Hackett decided to punt the ball at home in great weather and with the advantage of the altitude despite trying to kick a 64-yard field goal at sea level in Seattle.
“We got to make sure the communication is clear and concise. I need to do better at making decisions faster and quicker and getting that information to the quarterback and being on the same page with him,” Hackett said on Monday.
Denver was forced to burn all three of their timeouts during the fourth quarter because of Hackett and the coaching staff not communicating properly. At one point, it was fourth down and the Broncos didn’t have a punt returner on the field ready to return the punt. Hackett was forced to use a timeout there.
The 76,000 Broncos fans attending the game were booing not the players, but the coaching staff in their second game of the season.
“I don’t blame them, I was booing myself,” Hackett acknowledged after the game.
It even got to the point where the fans were counting down the play clock for Hackett on the offense because of delay of game penalties or the snap barely getting off.
When being asked if he’s thought about taking things off of his plate like game management or play calling, Hackett responded, “I’ll continue the play calling, I think that’s been pretty efficient up to this point, we’ve done a nice job moving the ball. I think from the game management side, I think we just got to tighten that whole thing up.” Hackett continued, “We’re all working together for the first time and we just want to be sure we’re more efficient in that and have the ability to make better decisions and quicker decisions.”
Hackett was also asked if he has considered adding a veteran offensive mind to help with the communication up in the booth, “I think everything is always open in the air, but for us everybody’s good, we just have to work things out together.” Hackett added, “We have to communicate better and it starts with me and getting the proper information that I need. I get excited, I’m a little aggressive at times and then sometimes that might not be the right decision. I just need to be sure that all the right information is getting to me at the right time so we can make the right decision.”
Hackett Received a Game Ball
Even though the win wasn’t pretty for Hackett and the Broncos, the rookie head coach did receive a game ball after the game from Russell Wilson and Courtland Sutton for winning his first game as a head coach.
Denver’s new owners were even awarded game balls for their first wins as first-time owners.
Hackett’s Offense Needs to be Better in the Red Zone
Denver’s offense is built to run the ball, throw the deep ball off play action, and score points. The Broncos have been able to run and throw the ball, but have failed to score points and most importantly in the red zone.
The Broncos have yet to score a touchdown in the red zone during their first two games, they are 0-6.
On Sunday, Denver lined up with a heavy formation with just Sutton lined up on the outside as the only wide receiver. Wilson would get the snap and loft it up to Sutton who made the catch, but came down out of bounds by just centimeters.
The Broncos then went out there and on the very next play, they ran the exact same play, and it still didn’t work.
Hackett’s play calling hasn’t helped either because he’s not running the ball properly inside the five-yard line.
In the first game, both Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon fumbled inside the one-yard line that were recovered by Seattle. On both plays, Wilson was lined up in the shotgun formation and on one play right guard Graham Glasgow thought he was pass blocking on a run play.
The Broncos have run 11 plays from inside their opponents five-yard line and they have yet to score a touchdown. So far during those 11 plays, Hackett’s offense has thrown the ball seven times and run the ball just four times. In situations like this, Denver needs to lineup under center and just play smash mouth football and pound it up the middle.
The Broncos are averaging just 16 points per game and are underdogs this week as they host the San Francisco 49ers.