Why is Nathaniel Hackett making so many mental errors?

Oct 3, 2022, 6:00 AM | Updated: 6:40 am

This article is presented by Think One

For several years now, I (Dr. Rick Perea) have been telling owners, executive vice presidents and general managers in the NFL that hiring offensive coordinators for the position of head coach has inherent challenges. As an industrial/organizational psychologist (Ph.D), I am trained to help organizations (all pro teams are organizations at a core level) identify, measure, analyze, interview and select human capital, AKA talent.

Offensive coordinators have an almost completely different skill-set then what head coaches do on a regular basis each day. Think about it; often, offensive coordinators and defensive coordinators are hired because of the success on their teams (win-losses) and more specifically, their success in play calling, developing players (especially quarterbacks and on defense front-seven personnel), personnel identification and deployment and verbal and vocal leadership qualities. However, head coaches spend roughly 50-60 percent of their time in administrative work, including, but not limited to media demands (interviews, press-conferences, TV and radio shows) meetings with owners, GMs, player-development executives etc.

I will never forget Adam Gase (who hired me in Miami) telling me (in a meeting, ironically) that coaching football was about 50 percent of what he did every day. Recently, the Broncos hired another assistant to help with game day management; I predict that as the game evolves, this will become the norm.

Pro sports in general is antiquated and archaic compared to the world of corporate and organizational performance and development. For example, I have worked for six NFL teams, not to mention MLB and NBA experience, as well. I have never been on a pro team that purposely develops their coaches in communication, leadership or climate and culture skill acquisition. There is a collective belief system in the NFL coaching ranks that coaching football is about coaching football.

This couldn’t be further from the truth; in reality, coaches are human beings and so are the players that they presumably teach and reach every day. If you don’t have a competency on how to psychologically and emotionally reach these players/humans (the neck up), they will never reach their potential physically, from the neck down.

The NFL in general, and the franchises (teams) specifically, are failing the players, coaches and essentially the owners. However, ignorance is bliss in social and organizational contexts; in other words, when you don’t know what you don’t know, it becomes a culture of under-achievement and homogeneity which breeds mediocracy. How many times have we witnessed NFL teams completely miss on head coaching hires that are costing teams financially millions of dollars not to mention the negative impact in has on team congruence of culture within a team, i.e., player development and performance.

When a team (Broncos 2015-22) has four head coaches in seven years, the organizational culture is in a constant flux of change; we have a saying in organizational performance: you can cultivate a “culture by design, or a culture by default.” It’s safe to say, the Broncos have been cultivating a culture by default. In fact, if you were to ask Hackett, what his culture is by name, he would not be able to pinpoint what it is, per se. A culture of accountability or structure is not a design. We design cultures in organizational performance every day; the difference? Humility and a deep thirst for growth and development.


You can find Dr. P and his award winning team in Greenwood Village at ThinkOne. From neurofeedback, to float tanks, to professional/personal and executive coaching, to having Dr. P speak at your next organizational event, ThinkOne and Dr. P will help you get your “Check up from the neck up” on Mental Mondays (podcast and article here).

Mental Mondays

Russell Wilson Sean Payton...

James Merilatt

Wilson and Payton can prove their worth in monster game

The Broncos spent big for Russell Wilson and Sean Payton, both of whom can prove to be worthwhile investments with a win in Buffalo

7 months ago

Nathaniel Hackett...

Dr. Rick Perea

Performance psychology is the solution-based way to achieve your goals

The Broncos are falling into the same trap as many organizations, putting an emphasis on the results instead of focusing on the process

2 years ago

Dr. Rick Perea...

Dr. Rick Perea, Ph.D.

Mental Monday: It’s time for a weekly “check up from the neck up”

This bi-monthly editorial will help everyday people learn the techniques and practices that will help them perform better and teach others

2 years ago

Why is Nathaniel Hackett making so many mental errors?