There’s a reason why the Broncos haven’t fired Nathaniel Hackett yet
How on earth is Nathaniel Hackett still the Broncos head coach? That’s the No. 1 question in Broncos Country right now. At 3-8, sporting the worst offense in the NFL, common sense would suggest that parting ways with the person in charge of the on-field product would make sense.
On Monday afternoon, however, Hackett was at the podium for his afternoon press conference. He was still the head coach of a team going nowhere, losers of three-straight games and seven out of eight.
That begs one gigantic question: Why?
The new narrative being pushed is that the Broncos don’t want to get the reputation for being impatient with head coaches. They don’t want candidates the next time around to be scared away from the job because they think the organization makes knee-jerk reactions.
Hackett inherited a 7-10 team that added a future Hall of Fame quarterback in the offseason. And he’s made them worse. He’s the architect of the league’s lowest scoring offense, at a putrid 14.3 points per game. He’s already had to have help brought in due to his horrendous in-game decisions. And he’s turned over play-calling duties.
If having to jump over that extremely low bar scares away a potential head coach, then that person wasn’t the right fit for the job anyway. Good grief.
Instead, Hackett is still around because George Paton is trying to avoid firing himself. If he lets the head coach go, he’s ultimately signaling that he should be gone too.
After all, he’s the one that spearheaded the 10-person committee that picked Hackett. He’s the one who passed on Kevin O’Connell. He’s the one who didn’t interview Brian Daboll or Mike McDaniel.
So Greg Penner and company are going to let him do it all over again, just 12 months later, and hope for a better result? They’re too smart for that to happen.
Paton can’t blame this mess on the coach because he picked the coach. And he can’t blame it on the players because he built the roster.
Instead, he has to hold out hope that something good enough happens in the final six weeks of the season to change the narrative. He’s throwing a Hail Mary and hoping it gets caught.
Maybe the Broncos offense starts to click a little bit when Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler return. Perhaps the pull an upset and end the 13-game losing streak against the Chiefs. Maybe they defy the odds and finish 4-2 down the stretch to finish 7-10 once again.
If those things happen, Paton can try to make the argument to Penner that Hackett should be retained. He can cite the late-season improvement. He can blame the newness factor. He can talk about injuries derailing things.
It’d all be nonsense. But it least he can make a case.
Right now, there’s nothing Paton can say to talk this away. It’s a mess. And it’s one he created.
But if there’s a glimmer of hope that it’s not as bad as it seems, the general manager can make the pitch that he can fix it. He can put forth the case that giving Hackett another season is the right and fair thing to do.
And Penner might buy it. After all, no one wants to fire their head coach. And they certainly don’t want to give someone who is a genuinely nice guy a pink slip after just one season. So Paton could potentially tap into a soft spot in the Broncos owner’s heart.
It’s a long shot. But it’s the only one Paton has right now.
If Nathaniel Hackett goes, George Paton knows he probably should too. Thus, he’s betting that the head coach can save both of their jobs during the next six weeks.