He seized the wheel of the clown car driven by Nathaniel Hackett, and quarterback Russell Wilson rode to rescue the Broncos Country.
Wilson saved an ignorant rookie coach from himself as he led a comeback in the fourth to defeat humbled Houston 16-9 on Sunday when the Bos came out and told the home team that all this inexcusable junk had to stop.
“I don’t blame them,” Hackett said. “I mean, well, I’d be booing myself. I was so frustrated.”
Let’s pause to give thanks for the Broncos finding a way to beat one of the worst NFL teams in spite of themselves.
“All I really care about is the cheers at the end, because we won,” said Wilson, who proved his shot from 22 yards to end tight with Eric Soubert with 12 minutes and 36 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, all it took to beat Houston. It was a slight drop.
Denver won and improved their record to 1-1 despite repeated atrocities in the red. Despite 13 Bonehead penalties, including a game delay offense in attempting a field goal; Although a punctuation team was sent to the field without being pursued; Despite the timeouts in the middle of the fourth quarter, and despite plenty of brain freeze by Hackett, I’m starting to wonder if his gray matter was made of Dippin’ Dots.
“This has to stop,” said Hackett, looking like he might need a hug.
But what this team needs more than just a hug is an intervention. Hackett needs someone to explain the big picture to him in real time. He needs a reliable voice to untangle the cobwebs in his brain.
We talk about it all the time with newbies who think about everything. For all his bragging about being the son of a coach, the speed of an NFL game was simply too much for Hackett. We knew Mike Shanahan, whose son is coming to town next weekend as the Niners coach, and Hackett is not the mastermind.
Within two weeks, Hackett is now 0-6 in converting red zone trips to landings as a play caller. Rather than hitting the ball in the end zone behind steamy back-defender Jafonte Williams, Hackett appears to be tempted to focus on the offensive playing card and fall in love with the sweet.
Let’s hope it’s not a fatal attraction.
But after averaging 16 points per game with the quarterback paying about $45 million annually, I’m starting to wonder if Hackett is a little more than former offensive coordinator Pat Shurmore with a more likable character but no better ideas.
On the sidelines, Hackett sounds like “Danger!” A contestant who goes off eagerly without a clue as to the correct answer, let alone the composure to put his answer into question form. Is anyone else besides me flashing back to Vance Joseph and Vic Fangio?
Hackett seems to have a hard time organizing his thoughts, let alone the team on the field. In the franchise’s long and written history, the Broncos have never committed a total of 25 penalties in consecutive games. Until now.
I asked Hackett if the process of managing crime and serving as CEO of Game Day operations was more difficult than he expected.
“No,” replied Hackett, vowing that the slow contact between him and Wilson was something he would clean up.
Well, the Broncos have other issues than the fire alarms going off in Hackett’s head. The already stricken Denver squad lost receiver Jerry Goody and cornerback Pat Sertin II to injury during the game. In successive weeks, Wilson was outplayed by backhanders named Jenno Smith and Davis Mills for huge parts of the game.
At the end of three quarters, with the Broncos trailing Houston 9-6, Wilson was playing at a level that could embarrass Drew Locke. Completed 9 of 23 passes for 116 yards, with an interception. His QB rating was 37.6. In short: pathetic.
But then Wilson showed the pedigree of heroism. The veteran midfielder gathered his teammates to talk to them off the edge.
Ross got on his knees in the assembly and said to us, ‘Hey, look. If we want to be a championship team, a team that goes deep into the playoffs and wins championships, these are situations we have to master.
During the latter period, when the Broncos needed a champ to save them from Hackett, Wilson completed 5 of 8 passes for 103 yards and downhill for a rating of 145.8 that would do Tom Brady justice.
Wilson led the Broncos back from the brink of disaster with his words and actions.
“There is one thing I will never do, I will never blink,” Wilson said.
When the Broncos needed him most, Wilson gave them reason to believe.
But, at this point, can anyone in the Broncos Country trust this coach not to lead this team into the ditch?