Two games, one win, one loss, but above all many unanswered questions. The Denver Broncos and Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett are facing a lot of criticism – and are already getting whistles and jeers.
Munich – The hype was huge. Russell Wilson is here. And with Nathaniel Hackett, a coach with whom Aaron Rodgers was successful. Broncos heart what more do you want?
But in Denver, disillusionment has set in. The hype – unlike with Peyton Manning – disappeared as quickly as it had arisen. Instead: Whistles from his own fans and teasing of the coach by counting the play clock out loud.
And after just two days of play as head coach, Hackett admits he still has a lot to do differently, a lot to learn.
“I need to be in a position where I can make quicker and better decisions. That’s been the focus this week and it starts with me. My coaching staff helped me a lot with that because that’s something new for me,” the Broncos coach admitted at the press conference before the game against the San Francisco 49ers.
The criticism, despite the recent win against the Houston Texans, cannot be dismissed. The Broncos offense is still riding with the handbrake on. Partly because Hackett is still off on in-game decisions.
Nathaniel Hackett is making a lot of mistakes
The clock was ticking down on Game 1 against the Seattle Seahawks. The Broncos were down 16-17 at that point. With a minute left in the game, quarterback Russell Wilson and his offense, with three timeouts, faced a fourth-and-goal and had to cover five yards for another first down.
The Broncos offence, visibly irritated by the passing time, stayed on the field and almost 40 seconds passed before Hackett took a time-out and then again tried a field goal from 64 yards. An almost impossible distance in a stadium with an open roof due to the influence of wind and weather. The result: kicker Brandon McManus missed, the Broncos lost.
The gloating was great. Better to attempt a 64-yard field goal than to let the star quarterback they’re paying $250 million to put the ball in his hands on fourth down for 5 yards.
Denver’s head coach, meanwhile, admitted he would now make a different decision. “Looking back, we definitely should have gone for it,” the 42-year-old said in a post-match media roundtable.
Against Houston Texans with more mistakes
The Broncos celebrated their first win of the season on Game 2, but a few fatal errors marred the success. On a third down attempt, Hackett let his tight end Andrew Beck run an option play, which yielded no gain in space. The kicker then trotted onto the field, the clock ran down and the Broncos were penalised for delay of game.
Because the distance was too far, they had to punt the football back to the Texans.
Towards the end of the game, the fans in the home stadium counted the play clock loudly. But that wasn’t enough: a Texans punt left a returner missing from the Broncos formation and Hackett had to burn a timeout. Not unexpectedly, after two games the Broncos are also the leaders in categories such as “False Starts” or “Delay of Games” penalties.
Wilson has trouble getting going
With the slogan “Let’s ride” Russell Wilson fired up the offense before the season, but so far it’s not really finding its stride either. The star quarterback completed just under 60 percent of his passes for 559 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
Significantly more devastating is the output in the redzone. Six times the Broncos played their way into the area between the end zone and the opponent’s 20-yard line – and did not score a single touchdown. Instead, fumbles, turnovers on downs or field goal attempts.
Positive bright spots
The Broncos are also showing positive bright spots that are currently being somewhat overshadowed. The running game around running backs Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon is operating at full speed. The Broncos’ ball carriers are averaging 4.9 yards per run attempt.
The schematic design of the passing game allows Wilson easy completions and vertical touchdowns towards the sideline. At times, Hackett was able to give Wilson a good passing rhythm in his drives. The Broncos are quite successful in moving the ball, only the total failure in the redzone and the above mentioned wrong decisions lead to a mixed result;
According to Hackett, that should change on matchday 3: “Potential is always a dangerous word, but we’ve already shown a lot of really good things. Now it’s important that we carry that through to the end. “