The writing was on the wall of SoFi Stadium on Christmas Day when the Denver Broncos watched as LA's Cobie Durant scampered 85 yards for a pick-six that put the Rams over the half-century mark. Los Angeles would go on to win 51-14 as "the ride" Russell Wilson promised to take the Broncos fans on ground to a halt. All that was left was for the other shoe to drop. And finally, on Monday morning, it did. The Denver Broncos fired Nathaniel Hackett, their first year head coach, after a 4-11 start.
Simply Couldn't Hack It
Greg Penner, the Denver Broncos CEO, tweeted the following in a statement released by the team on Monday morning:
"On behalf of our ownership and organization, I want to thank Nathaniel Hackett for his dedication as head coach of the Denver Broncos. We sincerely appreciate Nathaniel's efforts and wish him and his family all the best in the future.
Following extensive conversations with George and our ownership group, we determined a new direction would ultimately be in the best interest of the Broncos. This change was made now out of respect for everyone involved and allows us to immediately begin the search for a new head coach.
We recognize and appreciate this organization's championship history, and we understand we have not met that standard. Our fans deserve much better, and I can't say enough about their loyalty during such a challenging stretch for our team.
Moving forward, we will carefully evaluate every aspect of our football operations and make whatever changes are necessary to restore this franchise's winning tradition.
I will lead our head coaching search with support from our ownership group and George, whom I have confidence in as our general manager. As we begin the process of selecting our next head coach, we remain focused on playing competitive football to finish the season on a positive note."
When the Broncos dealt for Russell Wilson in the offseason, it was clear that Denver was ready to break out of their rebuild caccoon. Surely, the massive contract they offered Wilson would pay off immediately. The Broncos opened the season 2-2, but things turned sour in a terrible showing against the Indianapolis Colts in which Russell Wilson failed to find the endzone, and the Broncos lost in overtime. The fractured Broncos locker room began to show on the field.
Since that game, the Broncos have gone 2-9, careening towards their worst season in over a decade. For other teams in a similar position, a terrible season would mean a high draft pick, but the Broncos don't even have that. The Broncos first-round pick is owned by the Seattle Seahawks.
And while Russell Wilson is very much responsible to his own role in the Broncos descent into the abyss, the man in the headset was never able to gain his footing. Nathaniel Hackett, who recently spent two years with the Green Bay Packers as their offensive coordinator, appeared to be out of his depth in the Mile High city. The degree to which Hackett lost his locker room was on display on Christmas Day when backup quarterback Brett Rypien appeared to begin a sideline altercation with the Broncos offensive line following a sack taken by Wilson.
The 51-14 Christmas Day beatdown appeared to be too much for general manager George Paton and the Broncos front office to stomach and relieved Hackett of his head coaching duties effective immediately. Jerry Rosberg, who has been a Senior Assistant with the team in 2022, will step in as interim head coach for the rest of the season.
With the Broncos facing two more potential losses to close out their season, perhaps Rosberg can find a way to get Denver back in fighting shap and end the year with a little momentum. If not, Denver will need to take a long hard look in the mirror before heading into next year.
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