Nathaniel Hackett failed Russell Wilson in the Broncos opening fiasco
We just can’t get over it. Five days later, it still doesn’t make sense. Monday night, for whatever reason, Nathaniel Hackett threw logic out the window and had Brandon McManus attempt a 64-yard field goal rather than have Russell Wilson attempt to convert 4th-and-5.
Hackett’s blunder was more than a bad decision, it created a lot of outside noise around the Broncos. Literally nobody has agreed with Hackett’s play call to kick the field goal.
The worst part is, Hackett let down Russell Wilson. Wilson played the best game for a Broncos quarterback since 2014. Wilson had a very solid stat line with 340 yards, 69 percent completion percentage, one touchdown and no interceptions. Beyond the stats, the visual of Wilson was even better.
It wasn’t perfect at times, but overall, Wilson looked like everything Broncos Country had hoped for. He was in command of the field. The quarterback was able to unlock the cheat code that is Jerry Jeudy. With Wilson under center, the Broncos were regularly in scoring position.
We should be talking about Wilson’s big debut in Denver. Instead, we’re talking about the most head-scratching moment in Broncos history.
Despite squandering three red-zone opportunities, the Broncos found themselves with a very realistic chance of winning the game. Facing 4th-and-5 at midfield, with multiple timeouts and one-minute left, Broncos Country was ready to watch Wilson work his magic.
Then, it happened. Wilson came off the field.
In the 2012 playoffs, at home against the Ravens, with the game on the line, John Fox decided to run the ball on 3rd-and-7 rather than have Peyton Manning attempt a pass. The running play failed, and the Broncos punted. The Ravens tied the game on the Mile High Miracle. Following the Ravens touchdown, Fox opted to kneel on the ball and send the game to overtime, even though the Broncos had two timeouts, 30 seconds and Manning. Fox’s conservative approach backfired, and the Broncos lost in double overtime.
In the 1997 AFC Championship Game, on 3rd-and-6, with the opportunity to seal the victory and go to the Super Bowl, head coach Mike Shanahan had John Elway throw the ball to Shannon Sharpe. Even though Terrell Davis was the best player on the team, Shanahan turned to his franchise quarterback on the most important play of the game. The Broncos converted and were on their way to the Super Bowl.
When a coach has a Hall of Fame quarterback, they should always go to that quarterback in the big moments.
A franchise quarterback can help your team overcome two fumbles at the goal line. What a franchise quarterback can’t overcome is his coach taking him off the field and taking the ball out of his hands.
Converting 4th-and-5 was manageable with Wilson. In Week 1, on national television, Wilson was going to show the Seahawks why they should have never traded him.
Hackett robbed Wilson of his moment.
Hackett failed his star quarterback. It’s not all about Wilson; there are 52 other guys on game day. But on Monday, in Seattle, it was about Russell Wilson. Pete Carroll has been doing victory laps and talking trash since Monday and Wilson must sit and take it knowing he didn’t get a chance to throw a counter punch.
To be successful in Denver, Russell Wilson doesn’t need Nathaniel Hackett. On the flip side, to be successful in Denver, Nathaniel Hackett needs Russell Wilson. When the game is on the line, and Wilson has been playing great, hopefully Hackett will take the easy route and let his franchise quarterback win the game.