The Broncos needed to find a way to beat the Raiders. They ultimately couldn’t.
The strategy for moving to 4-6 included coach Nathaniel Hackett giving up offensive play calling to quarterbacks coach Klint Kubiak. After Sunday’s overtime loss to the Raiders, Hackett explained the decision.
“For me, I want to do whatever I can to help this team,” Hackett said. “We’re so close, we continually talk about this over and over again. A couple plays here and there, and there’s a lot of different outcomes. I have to look at myself first, to see if there’s something that I can do to give some kind of spark to the offense. So I thought it would be good if I stepped away from that, let Klint get upstairs to be able to see it from a bird’s-eye view up in the box and see if that would help us. It allowed Justin [Outten] to be down on the sideline and be able to talk with Russell [Wilson], talk with him about the runs. I thought that would help us, and I wanted to be sure I had that opportunity to give that to him.”
Hackett, who made the decision to surrender the play calling duties on his own, could be moving toward losing his opportunity to coach the team at all. Hackett was asked whether he’s coaching for his job, and whether he has spoken to G.M. George Paton or CEO Greg Penner regarding Hackett’s status with the team.
“For me, everything is about this team and this staff,” Hackett said. “I’ve told you guys that before. I just want to do everything I can to help this team win. We’ve been so close, we’ve had so many opportunities. We’ve had a lot of things happen this year that are unfortunate, but we have to continually find ways to win. That’s my sole purpose. That’s all I’m looking to do. Whatever happens — those things I can’t control. I always communicate with everybody, talk about everything, show them all the different things that are going on so that they can have all their questions answered and go from there.”
He’s right, technically and literally. But the reality is that the Broncos haven’t won enough games. They’ve been close in all of their losses. But that also makes the blunders even more conspicuous. And most of the blunders that caused potential victories to become close losses trace back to lapses in coaching.
Whether it’s taking too long to communicate plays or calling the wrong plays at the wrong time or failing to persuade quarterback Russell Wilson to wear a wristband through the first five games in order to streamline the process or whatever else has happened that comes together to turn victory into defeat, Hackett has been too responsible for too many of the mistakes. His performance does not inspire confidence that he can turn it around.
Will ownership let him continue to try? Maybe. Maybe not. The fans are restless. The fans are the customers. And ownership made its family billions by running a retail business that has enjoyed an extremely healthy and productive relationship with its customers.