MERILATT MONDAY

It’s time for a purge in Broncos Country, from the head coach on down

Oct 18, 2022, 6:00 AM | Updated: 10:48 am
Nathaniel Hackett...
(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

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On a night when the Broncos needed a win to salvage their season, they couldn’t find a way to get a victory. As a result, a 19-16 overtime loss puts Denver in a 2-4 hole, leaving them to languish amongst the NFL’s group of also-rans.

As with any big loss, the question is simple: Who is to blame? On this night, however, the answer isn’t quite as easy.

Some will say that the defense couldn’t get off the field in the second quarter. That’s a fair argument, as the Broncos hardly saw the ball again after taking a 10-0 lead, as Denver gave up back-to-back long drives to let the Chargers tie the score at 10-10.

Others will blame the special teams. That’s also valid, as Montrell Washington’s muffed punt in overtime was the difference, allowing Los Angeles to win the game without getting a first down in the extra period. It was the rookie’s second fumble of the night and third in two games.

But without a doubt, the blame falls on the Broncos offense. Through five games, Denver was averaging an anemic 15.0 points per game. On Monday night, they scored 16. In the second half, they scored three points. In overtime, they went three-and-out on both possessions.

It was ugly in every way, shape and form. And at some point, someone needs to be held accountable.

Nathaniel Hackett and Russell Wilson are going to receive most of the blame. It’s deserved. The head coach / play caller and quarterback are going to feel the brunt of the wrath when the offense is bad.

But it doesn’t end there. It’s time to take a bigger picture look at this team.

It’s no secret that the Broncos have had multiple head coaches, offensive coordinators and quarterbacks since winning Super Bowl 50. Vance Joseph, Vic Fangio, Hackett, Mike McCoy, Bill Musgrave, Rich Scangarello, Pat Shurmur, Justin Outten and the litany of quarterbacks; they’ve all come and gone, yet the results have been the same.

Thus, it’s time to take a look at the supporting cast. It’s an overrated group, one that has been overhyped by the fan base and media.

Albert Okwuegbunam was supposed to have a breakout season. In Week 6, the tight end was a healthy scratch.

Jerry Jeudy’s slow start to his career could be blamed on his quarterbacks. But even with Wilson, he’s a non-factor.

Courtland Sutton is positioned as a “star” wide receiver. After the ACL injury he suffered in 2020, however, he’s a No. 2 wideout, at best.

The offensive line is another mess. Dalton Risner hasn’t lived up to expectations. Lloyd Cushenberry is average. Quinn Meinerz is just a guy. And everyone else is an interchangeable, mediocre part.

Thus, it’s time to part ways with the bad apples. The Broncos need to cut their losses.

Late in the game on Monday, the “MNF” cameras captured a shot of Jeudy complaining to Melvin Gordon on the sidelines. Both players are malcontents. Both have failed to live up to expectations. It’s time to send them packing.

The Broncos have a losing culture. That kind of behavior during a 16-16 overtime game is indicative of the problem. They need to go.

But the purge doesn’t end there. In fact, that should be just the beginning.

The Broncos offensive coaching staff is a joke. Hackett is a learning on the job, as is Outten. Both are in over their heads.

In the second half and overtime, Denver’s offensive possessions were as follows:

• Punt
• Punt
• Punt
• Field Goal (on a four-play, zero-yard drive)
• Punt
• Punt
• Punt

In total, the Broncos ran 30 plays in two-plus quarters. They amassed 72 total yards. Their only scoring drive went a grand total of zero yards.

That’s so bad it’s hard to comprehend. After seeing how the Chargers were playing them, Denver adjusted and put up that kind of performance.

But the Broncos ineptitude didn’t end there. They also recorded 10 penalties for 151 yards. They had a game-deciding turnover in overtime.

It was pathetic. It was a mess. It was a disaster.

The Broncos had 11 days to fix their problems. On Monday, all of them remained. And then some.

Clearly, Hackett and company can’t solve the issues. They proved that against the Chargers.

Was it reasonable to assume that everything would be better? Of course not. But could something be better? That seems fair.

Instead, it was the same issues that have plagued this team all season long. And there is no reason to believe it will get any better.

Greg Penner didn’t hire Hackett. The new Broncos owner came on board after the head coach was brought into town. As a result, he should have no allegiance to the bumbling mess on Denver’s sidelines.

In addition, Penner has no connection to George Paton. At some point, the guy who picked Hackett out of 10 candidates is also to blame for this disaster.

The Broncos passed on Kevin O’Connell. His Vikings are 5-1. They didn’t even interview Brian Daboll. His Giants are 5-1.

Paton picked Hackett and he whiffed. It’s questionable whether he should get another chance.

After all, the general manager isn’t without folly. Two of his draft picks were the goats on Monday night. Damarri Mathis now leads the NFL in pass interference penalties after the cornerback was flagged four times against the Chargers. And Washington fumbled away the game.

The Broncos are a sinking ship. They’re bumbling their way through what has turned into a lost season.

Russell Wilson isn’t the problem. And given his contract, he isn’t going anywhere.

So it’s time for Denver to address the things they can change. That starts with personnel and coaching.

Adios Jerry Jeudy and Melvin Gordon. Same to Albert O. And it’s time to cut the cord with Hackett, Outten and the good ol’ boys from Green Bay.

Let Ejiro Evero run the show. His defense has been great. And let Klint Kubiak run the offense, he did a solid job in Minnesota filling that role.

Enough is enough. Broncos Country is done already.

The Broncos won’t make a move on a short week. And they won’t make one before heading to London. But after their game against the Jaguars, Denver has a bye. That’s when something has to be done.

Nathaniel Hackett can make the trip across the pond, but he shouldn’t come back. It’s time for the head coach to take a European vacation.

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