BRONCOS

Justin Outten is the latest Broncos coach to put his foot in his mouth

Sep 15, 2022, 1:35 PM | Updated: 2:54 pm
Justin Outten...
(Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
(Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Another day, another debacle at the podium for a Broncos coach. It’s becoming an epidemic.

On Tuesday, it was Nathaniel Hackett who couldn’t provide a satisfactory answer to the team’s decision to settle for a 64-yard field goal at the end of their season-opening loss in Seattle. Denver’s head coach originally admitted that he should’ve gone for it on fourth-and-five with roughly a minute to play, but then spent the rest of the press conference justifying his decision to attempt a kick that has only been made twice in the history of the NFL. Then, he capped things off with an ill-fated joke about trying to coax the referees into an extra timeout at the end of the game.

It went over like a lead balloon in Broncos Country. A fan base still scarred by the clock management blunders of Vic Fangio, as well as the contradictory soundbites from Vance Joseph, was in no mood for the lack of accountability from Hackett.

On Thursday, it was Justin Outten’s turn to address the situation. The Broncos offensive coordinator was making his weekly appearance in front of the media, speaking for the first time since the team’s loss to the Seahawks.

Not surprisingly, he was asked about the decision to kick the field goal. Given that it was the biggest offensive play of the game, it’s a valid question for Denver’s offensive coordinator. Throw in the fact that it was Outten’s first foray in that role and it was totally in bounds.

The OC didn’t seem to think so, however. Instead of providing an answer that would be confidence inspiring, Outten took his turn as a wannabe standup comedian while ducking the question.

“I think that’s been addressed long enough,” the coordinator answered. “There’s no Marty McFly to go back in time. We’re focused on Houston.”

Um, what?

First of all, it hasn’t been addressed enough. Not by Outten. He hasn’t uttered a single word about it. He’s provided zero explanation for the decision, insight about the process or any other information.

At some point, it’s time to move on. That’s fair. But this was Outten’s first public appearance since the game. This wasn’t a third straight day of Hackett being asked about the same thing. That would be beating a dead horse. This was not.

Essentially, Outten is implying that he’ll never address anything that happens in a game this season. He and the other coordinators speak in the middle of the week, so the previous game will always be in the rearview mirror. Is he never going to be willing to talk about what happened? That’s absurd.

Second, no one wants to see the smirk or hear the “Back to the Future” reference. Trying to dodge the question with wit and charm doesn’t fly in Broncos Country. Just answer the question.

This is something both Outten and Hackett need to realize. After a loss, fans in the Mile High City aren’t in the mood for jokes. When the defeat comes in part because of questionable decisions, they certainly don’t want to hear the decision makers being lighthearted and flippant.

And finally, channeling Bill Belichick is never a good idea. When someone has won multiple Super Bowls, they can get away with “We’re focused on Houston.” Belichick can be dismissive. Outten can’t. That’s just the way it is.

The offensive coordinator’s missteps didn’t end there, however. When asked about the team’s performance in Week 1, Outten had another head-scratching answer.

“I thought it was as smooth as it could be for a first game with a new quarterback and a new system, in a loud environment,” the offensive coordinator said.

Huh?

The Broncos committed 12 penalties in Seattle. They had multiple plays that were rushed, as the team tried to hurry to avoid delay-of-game penalties. The had breakdowns in communication, which led to goal-line fumbles and blown-up plays.

It was sloppy. It was messy. It was ugly.

Did the Broncos do some good things? Sure. They moved the ball well. They were able to run it and throw it. They were efficient, only having to punt one time in the game.

But they scored 16 points. They lost a game in which their defense only surrendered 17. That’s not good enough.

Yet, the team’s offensive coordinator said it was “as smooth as it could be.” That’s the standard? That’s the bar?

Once again, this answer was a miss by Outten. Rather than admitting that his offense had things to clean up, he tried to convince people that his group was buttoned up.

Insulting the intelligence of the fan base is never a good idea. That answer bordered on that territory.

Sunday can’t come soon enough for the Broncos. In particular, it needs to arrive for their coaching staff.

Hopefully, Denver can get a win over Houston. Then, the tough questions will end and everyone will be in the mood for vaudeville acts at the podium.

Because right now, on the heels of an embarrassing loss in front of a national TV audience, the head coach and offensive coordinator have done nothing to quiet the masses. In fact, they’ve made the situation worse.

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Justin Outten is the latest Broncos coach to put his foot in his mouth