Broncos should takes notes on Jeff Saturday and a gutsy coaching change
The Colts thought outside the box.
The Broncos didn’t.
And right now one franchise is being rewarded, while another is still stuck in the muddy waters of losing.
When Indianapolis owner Jim Irsay fired Frank Reich and brought former center Jeff Saturday off a television set and into the locker room, the NFL world was stunned. Even outraged. Former Steelers head coach Bill Cowher called it “a disgrace to the coaching profession.”
Cry me Three Rivers, Bill. Because right now, Irsay’s having the last laugh.
This is not some grand proclamation that Saturday is going lead the Colts to the Super Bowl. Or even the playoffs. Far from it. But what was obvious to anyone with a brain is that Saturday sparked Indy on Sunday against the Raiders.
Fresh off an embarrassing 26-3 loss to the Patriots in which the Colts looked lifeless, Irsay did something gutsy and something outrageous. He brought in a master motivator who’s had a lot of football success (playing the game) and woke Indianapolis up. The Colts rallied from a late deficit to beat the Raiders 25-20 and save their season. Indy is just one game outside of a playoff spot at 4-5-1.
And without the tie, 4-5 is a number that should be familiar to Broncos fans. That’s where the team’s record would be had they beaten a mediocre Titans team. Instead, the offense managed 10 lousy points and lost another game in the same old type of way, 17-10.
Head coach Nathaniel Hackett had two weeks to make his team better. But rather than use the bye week for anything innovative, creative or fun, Denver’s offense somehow looked worse. Any good vibes from the Jacksonville win in London are long gone. That victory feels like a lifetime ago.
It’s a harsh reality, but maybe the Broncos would have been better off losing the Jaguars. CEO Greg Penner and GM George Paton might have made a head coaching change. And you can sure as heck bet the new guy in charge would’ve had Denver more ready to go than the brutal product we saw in Nashville.
No, I’m not suggesting Penner and Paton should’ve fired Hackett and made a hire like Saturday. Even if Mike Klis had fun putting a list together that included choices from the 104.3 The Fan staff like Saturday. For as cool as it’d be to see Mark Schlereth, Orlando Franklin, Brandon Stokley or Chad Brown roam the Denver sideline, they’re likely not on management’s radar for the gig.
Unfortunately, we’ve reached the “ABH” point of the season, or “anyone but Hackett.” His offense isn’t working. His message appears stale and his training camp and preseason plans were failures. Even if Hackett had been fired at the bye and the plan was simply to promote Ejiro Evero to head coach and Klint Kubiak to play-caller, Sunday would’ve gone better. It’s hard to imagine it going worse.
When Hackett mentioned a few weeks ago there would be no changes and things would stay “status quo,” that needed to be a red flag for Penner and Paton. Instead, they let things stay the same, and now the Broncos are 3-6. It would take an absolute miracle for Denver to rally and secure a playoff berth.
They missed the boat on this season. The window has closed. That much is obvious. However, a midseason change is still a good idea, especially if Denver loses to the Raiders on Sunday. The same Las Vegas team that Saturday just beat.
It would provide a spark heading into the offseason. Normally, when your team is bad, wins are bad, because it hurts your first-round draft position. That’s not an issue for the Broncos — far from it. That selection is going to Seattle in 2023, so it’s actually in Denver’s best interest to win as many games as possible. Don’t gift Pete Carroll and the Seahawks a top-10 pick.
And if the interim coach wins, whether that be Evero or someone else, you have your guy for 2023. There will be no need for an exhaustive search when he’s already in the building.
Irsay’s a quirky dude, no doubt. What he did may or may not work, but at least he did something. He looks involved and engaged, while Penner and Paton look asleep at the wheel, letting the Broncos bus tumble off the road.