It’s safe to say Nathaniel Hackett’s first season as the Denver Broncos’ head coach has not gone to plan.
Weeks into the season, he had to hire Jerry Rosburg to help him with in-game management. Midway through the year, he gave up offensive play calling duties to Klint Kubiak. Through 15 weeks of the season, the Broncos have the worst scoring offense in the NFL.
All of that, on top of a 4-10 record, has him firmly on the hot seat entering the final stretch of the season.
Will Hackett get a second shot to try and turn the Broncos around or will be a one-and-done coach?
The DNVR Crew debates.
All odds below are courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook.
Will Nathaniel Hackett remain the Broncos’ coach after the season?
Zac: Yes — But the first-time head coach won’t just be given a second year. He’ll have to earn it in the final three games of the season. But he does have momentum on his side going into a very winnable game on Christmas against the Los Angeles Rams.
For Hackett to be back, he’ll have to beat the Rams, which I think Denver will do, and be semi-competitive against the Chiefs and competitive against the Chargers at home in Week 18. The Broncos’ offense will also have to continue to show signs of life—meaning dropping at least 20 points per game.
In the past two weeks, the Broncos have done all of these. In the two-week span, Denver is averaging 26 points per game, despite playing with many backups on offense, including at quarterback. The Broncos were competitive against the Chiefs and took care of the Cardinals at home. If this continues for the rest of the season, Hackett will get a second shot.
It’s important to remember the organization wants Hackett to be the guy. If he shows signs of figuring it out over the last five games of the season, he’ll get the benefit of the doubt.
RK: No — No way. Come on. I feel like I’m taking crazy pills over here reading people say yes. There’s just no way.
The Denver Broncos brought in a brand new quarterback and an offensive-minded head coach to turn around their abysmal offense and what did they get? The worse offense in franchise history. Somebody has to go—and it ain’t going to be Russell Wilson.
The offense is an embarrasment, the head-coaching decisions were so bad they stripped them away from him and the one thing he’s supposed to be best at, the vibes, are down horrendous.
I hate to say this because I like Nathaniel Hackett, but there’s literally no case for keeping him.
Hank: Yes — I can’t believe I’m saying this, but if I had to bet one way or the other, I’d say Hackett is back for a second season.
To be clear, this is far from guaranteed.
Let’s take a peek at the history. Over the past 28 seasons, 16 NFL head coaches haven’t returned for second seasons. Two of those coaches, Al Groh and Bobby Petrino, resigned to take jobs coaching college football.
So, about every other season a head coach is fired before Year 2. The most recent members of that group are Urban Meyer (2021), Steve Wilks (2018), and Chip Kelly (2016).
Is Hackett as bad as those three? I don’t think so.
If Hackett were fired tomorrow, his tenure would be remembered as more successful (or less unsuccessful) than Meyer’s. There’s no debate.
Steve Wilks took over a .500 football team two years removed from an NFC Championship Game appearance and won three games. Even if he doesn’t win another game, Hackett’s tenure is probably better than Wilks.
Chip Kelly’s failures in San Francisco are tough to measure. He was terrible, winning two games, but the roster was bad, and the 49ers were coming off a five-win season. At the very least, Hackett probably has the better resume after this season because some of the blame will fall on the Broncos’ injuries. In my opinion, the injuries have hurt the Broncos more this season than the coaching or the quarterback play.
If Hackett loses the last three games, I think he’s outperformed at least two of the NFL’s last three one-and-dones, and has a decent chance to come back. If he wins one more, he clears them, and he’s better than 50-50. If he wins two, he’s a near-lock to return. Win all three, and there’s no doubt.
Picks Picks Picks
Russell Wilson passing yards over/under 221.5
Russell Wilson passing touchdowns over/under 1.5
Latavius Murray rushing yards over/under 60.5
Latavius Murray receiving yards over/under 11.5
Brandon McManus made field goals over/under 1.5
Broncos total points over/under 19.5
Rams total points over/under 16.5
Will Latavius Murray and Cam Akers each rush for at least one touchdown? (+330)
Broncos-Rams total points over/under 36.5
Broncos (-3) @ Rams
Seahawks @ Chiefs (-10)
Chargers (-4.5) @ Colts
Raiders @ Steelers (-2.5)