Sunday night is a tipping point for Nathaniel Hackett in Denver
The first win for an NFL head coach should be a celebratory occasion. Unless your Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett.
Instead of receiving praise for his first victory, Hackett is having to answer questions regarding his competency as a play caller and head coach. And for good reason.
Hackett’s first two games have led to some all-time embarrassing moments for the Broncos. The infamous 64-yard field goal attempt in Week 1 and the Broncos fans counting down the play clock in Week 2 will be two moments we will always remember.
Vance Joseph and Vic Fangio inspired little confidence in Broncos fans. But in just two games, disapproval of Hackett could potentially be worse than it was for his predecessors.
With the literally nobody defending him, Hackett can do one thing to silence his doubters in Denver: Beat Kyle Shanahan.
Shanahan is the man Broncos Country feels should be their head coach. Shanahan is the son of the best coach in Broncos history, Mike Shanahan, and he grew up in Denver. Many are still fuming that John Elway did not hire him in 2017, opting instead to pursue Joseph.
Kyle Shanahan’s success has been a constant reminder for Broncos fans of what could have been. He has been a constant in San Francisco since 2017, while the Broncos are on their third head coach in that time span.
Hackett has an opportunity this weekend to erase the humiliation of the first two weeks. With a win against the 49ers and Shanahan on Sunday night, Hackett can redeem himself. Playing a team the caliber of the 49ers might be worrisome for a coach looking to get back on track, but it’s the perfect opportunity for Hackett.
The 49ers are one of the most-successful teams in the NFL in the last five seasons. A win over them on “Sunday Night Football” will be a positive sign that Hackett is figuring it out.
Hackett can learn from Shanahan. Twice in Super Bowls, Shanahan’s play calling has been called into question. Once as offensive coordinator of the Atlanta Falcons and the other as head coach of the 49ers.
While both situations still haunt Shanahan, he is proof a coach can overcome controversial play calling. Shanahan is still regarded as one of the best head coaches in the NFL, despite both of those moments.
An embarrassing loss to the 49ers could be the final verdict in the eyes of Broncos Country for Hackett. If Kyle Shanahan coaches circles around Nathaniel Hackett, faith could be lost forever.
The Shanahan offense is the only offense that has won Super Bowls in Denver. The visual of somebody else finding success with it could be unforgivable for Broncos fans.
A win for Hackett would signal that while bumpy, Week 1 and 2 were a first-time head coach adjusting to his new responsibilities. A victory over Shanahan and the 49ers will create a renewed trust in Hackett. The Broncos would be 2-1 and would have weathered the early storm of a new regime.
Sunday night in Denver could be the most important game in Nathaniel Hackett’s head coaching career. A win might be the beginning of Hackett finding his identity coach and a loss could be too much to overcome.