SEATTLE – On the long plane ride home to the Broncos, here’s where Nathaniel Hackett can sleep after a 17-16 loss to the Seahawks, because if you ask me, Denver’s rookie coach looked clueless in Seattle.
Instead of putting the football in the hands of quarterback Russell Wilson, who was recently awarded a $245 million contract extension by the Broncos, Hackett gave up and hoped for a 64-yard field goal by punter Brandon McManus in the final seconds of the fourth quarter. Win the game.
How did that go for you, coach?
“We just made up our minds and wanted to take that shot,” Hackett said.
His explanation for the head-scratching decision at the postgame news conference was more caffeinated than a triple espresso, with Hackett citing a sack that never happened on the Broncos’ final possession, as well as questioning the ability of Denver’s offense. He averaged 6.8 yards per 64 snaps to produce one chunk play.
On fourth down and five from Seattle’s 46-yard line, Wilson stood in the gun until Hackett called a timeout and sent McManus down the field to make more field goals than anyone in Lumen Field history.
“The 46-yard line was my line to reach the left hash. They got there,” McManus posted on Twitter. “Need to hit”
While we can all appreciate McManus taking charge, Hackett let the ball down. In one notable NFL career, McManus has now made one of eight attempts of more than 60 yards.
A year ago, NFL offenses converted 49% of the time in fourth-and-5 situations. I’m a knuckle. So do the math and tell me if Hackett played the odds correctly.
“I believe in Coach Hackett. I believe in what we’re doing,” said Wilson, whose 101.3 quarterback rating against his former team en route to an honorable mention spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
So why would he take Wilson out of the game when he called a pass with plenty of time on the clock and put McManus in the most logical position to make a field goal?
“Russell is a dangerous guy, especially in short yards. He can make a lot of things happen,” Seahawks linebacker Uchenna Nyosu said. “When they took him out of the game and took him out of the field goal unit, I was like, ‘Well, maybe they’re not going to believe him in this situation.’ “
The Broncos played a poorly coached team from start to finish with an inexperienced defensive coordinator, a first-time offensive coordinator and Hackett, who was never forced to face the music due to game management mistakes and turned Vic Fangio into a piñata. Die-hard for irked Denver.
There were some awful tackles and blown defenses, including a miscommunication that allowed tight end Will Disley to fumble wildly and free for a 38-yard touchdown on Seattle’s opening drive. I lost count of the yellow hankies scattered at the Broncos’ feet.
Instead of getting down to football fundamentals in the preseason, Denver’s defense looked like it went on summer vacation. wait what Oh never mind, Hackett believes August was made to be hugged, not hugged.
I know Broncos Country takes Uncle Vic’s name for granted, but after watching this team make Geno Smith look like Patrick Mahomes, it was enough to wonder if maybe Denver would hire Denver Fanon as their defensive coordinator. Read this and try not to cry: The lightly regarded journeyman pro who became the Seahawks’ starting quarterback by default completed 23 of 28 passes for 195 yards and two touchdowns against the Broncos.
Was he approached by the Jets, Giants and Chargers for Smith’s confirmation before finding a home in Seattle?
“I always felt it was right,” he said. “So this victory is not good for me.”
Hackett’s scheme of quick strikes and short passing plays was nothing fancy. Not only was Wilson surgically accurate at hitting receivers in space after the catch, he was sacked only twice while dropping back to pass 44 times.
But did former offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur sleep off the folds, when Hackett forgot to clear his game plan for the red zone off the table?
Taking the lead on consecutive drives in the third quarter, the Broncos twice fumbled the ball a yard short of Seattle’s end zone. The first turnover was committed by Melvin Gordon and the second error was caused when Javonte Williams dropped the ball. The real big boo-boo, however, was Hackett getting himself out of his options on the goal line by running shotgun that avoided an easy quarterback loss.
With a bad moon rising in Seattle, Wilson served up a big slice of humble pie to the famous rowing fans known as the “12s” in Seattle.
And the honeymoon for Hackett in Denver? it’s over. In his first game as a head coach, he was not yet ready for prime time.
It’s time for the Broncos to win. If you want to defend Hackett’s decision to take the ball out of Wilson’s hands and over McManus’ feet for a 64-yard field goal, I have a question for you.
Are you turning nuts?