The Denver Broncos fired head coach Nathaniel Hackett on Monday just 15 games into his first season with the team. Senior assistant coach Jerry Rosburg takes over as interim head coach, ESPN reported.
“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,” Broncos CEO and Owner Greg Penner wrote in a statement. “This change was made now out of respect for everyone involved and allows us to immediately begin the search for a new head coach.”
“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.”
The Broncos were 4-11 in Hackett’s brief tenure that concluded on Christmas with a 51-14 loss to the Los Angeles Rams. Per Elias Sports, Hackett is just the fifth head coach not to make it through his first season, joining Urban Meyer (2021), Bobby Petrino (2007), Pete McCulley (1978) and Lou Holtz (1976).
“From the very first game, he looked overmatched for the job,” said analyst Mike Tannenbaum of The 33rd Team. “It was one of those hirings that never seemed to be the right fit, most notably with the quarterback. They could never get Russell Wilson going consistently, and he struggled, both in protection and accuracy. While the defense kept them in a lot of games, their lack of offensive production consistently gave management no choice but to make the decision to cut their losses after only 15 games.”
Hackett was brought to Denver after several successful seasons serving as the offensive coordinator for the Green Bay Packers. However, his offense was anything but successful with the Broncos. The Broncos are last in the NFL in points per game (15.5) and 26th in yards (316.6).
Denver paired Hackett with Russell Wilson after making a blockbuster trade last March for the All-Pro quarterback, who was given a 5-year, $240 million contract with more than $160 million guaranteed.
Wilson was having a career-worst season under Hackett, throwing 12 touchdown passes, and nine interceptions while completing just 60% of his passes.
Analyst Joe Banner of The 33rd Team puts much of the blame on the Broncos’ offensive line that has failed this season trying to protect Wilson, who has lost confidence. But it goes deeper, Banner believes.
“The scheme, if you break it down, is not doing him any favors,” Banner said early Monday morning before Hackett’s dismissal. “There are schemes that make for easy throws and easy completions, and that’s not what’s happening there. He’s got weapons where that should happen, but they do not have good play designs, they do not have good play-calling philosophy.”
The Broncos play the Kansas City Chiefs this Sunday in their first game without Hackett.