ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The Denver Broncos fired first-year head coach Nathaniel Hackett on Monday.
The transfer comes after a 4-11 begin and Sunday’s 51-14 loss to the Los Angeles Rams.
Hackett’s dismissal places an abrupt finish to the shortest tenure of any noninterim head coach in franchise historical past. The Broncos’ new possession — the Walton-Penner Group, led by Walmart inheritor Rob Walton, daughter Carrie Walton Penner and son-in-law Greg Penner — rapidly ran out of persistence with a workforce that had one of many league’s finest defenses however an offense that merely couldn’t rating.
“Following extensive conversations with [general manager] George [Paton] and our ownership group, we determined a new direction would ultimately be in the best interest of the Broncos,” Penner mentioned in a press release. “This change was made now out of respect for everyone involved and allows us to immediately begin the search for a new head coach.
“Shifting ahead, we are going to rigorously consider each side of our soccer operations and make no matter modifications are mandatory to revive this franchise’s profitable custom.”
Penner added that Paton will assist in the coaching search. The team also has scheduled a news conference for Tuesday at noon ET.
Former Baltimore Ravens assistant coach Jerry Rosburg, who Denver hired in September to aid in-game management decisions, has been named the team’s interim head coach for the remainder of this season.
At one point this season, the Broncos featured the No. 1 scoring defense and the No. 32 scoring offense. The Broncos also missed the playoffs for the seventh consecutive year, the longest playoff drought since the franchise’s earliest years, when it missed the playoffs between 1960 and 1976.
It’s a far cry from Hall of Famer Pat Bowlen’s three-decade run as owner, when the Broncos went to more Super Bowls (seven) than they had losing seasons. This season is also the fifth time the Broncos have averaged fewer than 20 points per game over the past seven years. Until Hackett’s firing, Josh McDaniels had the shortest tenure as the team’s noninterim head coach in the post-AFL-NFL merger era. He was fired in 2010 with four games remaining in his second season on job. The Broncos were 3-9 when he was fired.
Hackett, 42, was hired in January as the franchise’s 18th head coach after serving three seasons as the Green Bay Packers’ offensive coordinator under Matt LaFleur. At the time, Paton called Hackett a “dynamic chief and coach whose intelligence, innovation and charisma impressed us from the very begin of the method.”
Then-Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell and Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn were also finalists for the role. O’Connell was later hired by the Minnesota Vikings, whose resurgent offense has led them to a 12-3 start. Shortly after Hackett’s hire, the Broncos traded five draft picks, including two first-rounders and two second-rounders, as well as three players to the Seattle Seahawks to acquire quarterback Russell Wilson. Wilson was signed to a five-year, $245 million contract extension just before the start of the season.
But the excitement of the Broncos’ offseason quickly fizzled out as Hackett’s in-game decision-making was questioned right from the start of the season.
In Week 1, his call to have kicker Brandon McManus attempt a 64-yard field goal instead of having Wilson attempt to convert a fourth-and-5 in the closing minute of a 17-16 loss to Seattle proved controversial.
“Wanting again at it, undoubtedly ought to have gone for it,” Hackett said the day after the loss. “A type of issues, you look again at it and say, ‘After all we should always go for it; we missed the sphere aim.’ However in that scenario we had a plan, we knew 46 was the mark.”
Game management issues continued in the weeks that followed — fans even counted down the play clock during some home games — which led to Rosburg’s hire. The disconnect between Hackett, Wilson and the offense persisted, however. Hackett routinely stressed he wanted “to construct this factor round [Wilson]” and do what Wilson was “snug with” in the offense even as Wilson repeatedly said he was comfortable “doing a whole lot of issues.”
At 15.5 points per game, the Broncos are at their lowest point total at this point in a season since 1966.
Injuries to front-line players such as left tackle Garett Bolles, running back Javonte Williams, wide receiver Tim Patrick and outside linebacker Randy Gregory certainly didn’t help matters. But as the season wore on, there was far less conversation in the public domain about Hackett’s willingness to think outside the box in his teaching methods and more about why the Broncos’ offense was so historically bad. Five of the Broncos’ first six losses and eight total have been one-score games.
That was not the case Sunday, as the Denver defense saw the Rams score on eight of their nine possessions. Additionally, backup quarterback Brett Rypien and guard Dalton Risner exchanged words on the sideline after a sequence in the third quarter when Wilson was sacked on back-to-back plays.
Gregory was pulled from the game twice by Hackett, once in the first half when he was flagged after he threw his helmet after a Rams touchdown, and later when he was flagged for a late hit on Los Angeles quarterback Baker Mayfield. “After that second one, we took him out — that is unacceptable,” Hackett mentioned.
Because the groups crowded the center of the sphere on their option to their locker rooms after the sport, Gregory and Rams guard Oday Aboushi exchanged phrases — with helmets on — and Gregory punched Aboushi within the helmet. Aboushi responded with a punch of his personal earlier than they had been separated. Each Gregory and Aboushi had been suspended one recreation by the NFL on Monday.
With the wealthiest possession group within the NFL in addition to a fan base passionate sufficient, even now, to have given the Broncos a house sellout streak that dates again to 1970, the Broncos’ head-coaching function will likely be a lovely job.