after one day Broncos first week loss to the Seahawks, head coach Nathaniel Hackett said later he wouldn’t have asked for a 64-yard field goal attempt instead giving Russell Wilson a chance to turn a fourth and a 5, making him the last person on earth to realize it. Hours before the team’s second game, Reported by Ian Rapoport of NFL.com Sources say Hackett has been “re-evaluating the information he receives on his headset, late game and key sequences”. Either these sources are lying or Hackett is, because the decision-making was completely baffled in the second week.
The Broncos beat the Texans on Sunday, 16-9, giving Hackett his first win as head coach. He got the playing ball next, as did the family of Walton Benner and Condoleezza Rice, and asked his team to focus on the bigger picture. “You guys, we have a lot to clean up,” Hackett said in the locker room. “We won, but there’s a lot to clean up.” He’s right about that – his team committed 13 penalties in the game – but most of the cleanup has to be on him.
Broncos 0 vs. 6 in scoring a touchdown in the red zone in two games. In the first quarter, the attack had a first-and-a-goal placement on Houston’s two-yard line. Russell Wilson threw three consecutive incomplete passes and Denver settled on a field goal. (The Denver Post mentioned “Player One” said Hackett called a second-place run, but Wilson changed it to a pass. I hope this doesn’t become a pattern!) The team scored the first points in the match and went 3-0. Fine.
Just before halftime, the Broncos had another chance for the first and goal on Houston’s five-yard line. Jafonte Williams ran back four yards in second to put his team one yard off the TD. Here’s what happened next:
3rd & 1 at HOU 1 (0:29 – 2nd) (Shotgun) Wilson’s short pass incomplete to the right.
4th & Goal at HOU 1 (0:23 – 2nd) (Field Target Formation) PENALTY on DEN, Delay of Game, 5 yards, superimposed at HST 1 – No Play.
4th & Goal at HOU 6 (0:20 – 2nd) B.McManus’s 24-yard field goal is good, J.Bobenmoyer center, Holder C. Whitman.
Wilson sped up a bit, then threw the pass away. Why not give the ball to Williams again, especially when the team still had three time-outs? If Condé was training, she would probably have been calling the run there. That the team commits a game delay penalty in a field goal attempt is somewhat troubling, but it doesn’t really matter in this context, as Brandon McManus can easily make 24 yards. As everyone learned last week, Hackett thinks his kick can make it basically anywhere, even from 64 yards, except when he can’t.
This wasn’t the worst Hackett sequence. No, the two red zone fails were just appetizers. What he did late in the third quarter was so horrific that it would be within the NFL’s right to open an investigation and see if someone had paid Hackett to try and throw this game. Down a field goal with a third and one position, the Broncos turned on the option to play as linebacker/tight end Andrew Beck lost one yard. Hackett wasted his playing hour trying to figure out what to do in fourth before sending in the field goals unit, which lined up for a 54-yard attempt but committed a game delay penalty before they could kick it. Instead of trying for 59 yards, Hackett chose to snipe. This Jim Norton-looking duo has yet to play the Chiefs and Chargers twice each.
Hackett really tested the limits of how ugly a win can be. Does the end justify the means here? Should any respected team play the Houston Texans so closely? How does a field-shooter commit two delay kicks in a match in one match? Isn’t it embarrassing for a coach that his fans are counting down the playing hour out loud when his attack is on the field?
To be fair, Hackett’s autopsy in the first week changed one of his leanings. In losing to the Seahawks, he held onto his timeouts until they were rendered useless. Against Texas, he burned his last second half with 7:38 remaining in the fourth quarter. One of those timeouts was called when the Broncos can’t figure it out Who was going to return punt. Whatever reassessment Hackett made, it must be reassessed.