BRONCOS

Maybe everyone should’ve seen this coming with Nathaniel Hackett

Nov 15, 2022, 3:52 PM | Updated: 3:53 pm
Nathaniel Hackett...
(Photo by C. Morgan Engel/Getty Images)
(Photo by C. Morgan Engel/Getty Images)

The Broncos offense is bad. Really bad. In fact, they’re the worst in the league, at least when it comes to scoring points, which is sort of the entire point of that phase of the game.

It’s shocking. A team with Russell Wilson, a quarterback who was destined for the Hall of Fame prior to coming to Denver, has scored 12 touchdowns in nine games. In their last three home games, they’ve scored nine, nine and nine points.

It’s remarkable. It truly is.

But maybe, just maybe, people shouldn’t be surprised.

Nathaniel Hackett was hired because he’s an offensive guru. He was the coordinator in Green Bay the previous three years, helping put together an offense that led the Packers to a 39-10 record during his tenure. During his last two seasons, Aaron Rodgers won back-to-back league MVP awards.

So everyone just thought that Hackett would come to Denver and produce similar results with Wilson. It seemed pretty simple.

In hindsight, however, a little more skepticism was in order. Upon further review, the three season in Green Bay, where Matt LaFleur called the plays and ran the offense, were the outlier during the coach’s career.

Prior to his stint with the Packers, Hackett had been an NFL offensive coordinator in four seasons. Only once was his offense in the upper half of the league in points scored:

2013 – BUF – 21.2 (22nd)
2014 – BUF – 21.4 (18th)
2017 – JAX – 26.1 (5th)
2018 – JAX – 17.9 (he was fired 11 games into the season)

Yikes.

That’s a concern. It should’ve been a red flag, but apparently the committee that interviewed 10 head coach candidates weren’t worried about it.

Nor were they worried about the track record of the biggest influences on Hackett’s career.

He worked with or under Doug Marrone for nine years, across three different locations. The two were on the same staffs at Syracuse, the Bills and the Jaguars. Marrone’s career record as an NFL head coach was 38-60. He was 25-25 during his four years as a college head coach.

The other influence was Hackett’s father, Paul. The Broncos head coach references his dad all of the time, sharing the wisdom that was passed on from the former NFL and college coach. During Paul Hackett’s tenures as the head coach of the University of Pittsburgh and USC, however. he posted a combined record of 32-38-1. Hackett was replaced as the Trojans head coach by Pete Carroll, who turned the program into a national title contender within two years.

The track record of Nathaniel Hackett was spotty coming into this season. The success rate of his biggest influences is also underwhelming, to put it mildly.

Thus, it shouldn’t come as a shock that he’s struggling to get things rolling during his first season in Denver. In fact, it would’ve been more surprising if things had gone well.

***

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