Nathaniel Hackett on Broncos struggles: 'I need to do better at making decisions faster and quicker'

·3 min read

For a second-straight week, Nathaniel Hackett made headlines for game-management blunders.

For a second-straight week, Hackett acknowledged those blunders in a next-day news conference while vowing to do better.

The Broncos escaped with a 16-9 win over the Houston Texans in Hackett's home debut. But there was otherwise little to like from the game for a Broncos team that entered the season with visions of competing for the NFL's most competitive division. Broncos fans let Hackett and first-year quarterback Russell Wilson know it with a cascade of boos throughout the second half.

Most egregious was a decision to attempt a 54-yard field goal in the third quarter from the Houston 36-yard line instead of going for it on fourth-and-2. Compounding the mistake, the Broncos failed to get the kick off on time and ended up punting from Texans territory after a five-yard delay-of-game penalty.

Sprinkle in some wasted timeouts and more clock mismanagement, and Hackett's home debut was a clinic on how not to manage a game. By the time it was done, Broncos fans were trolling Hackett by counting down the play clock when the Broncos had the ball.

Hackett knows the score. Of the booing fans, he said on Sunday: "I don't blame them."

He reiterated in a Monday news conference that he knows that he has to do better.

"We've got to make sure the communication is clear and concise," Hackett said. "I need to do better at making decisions faster and quicker and getting that information to the quarterback and being on the same page with him."

"That's stuff that we're talking about this morning all the way to this evening. It's gotta improve."

DENVER, COLORADO - SEPTEMBER 18: Denver Broncos Head coach Nathaniel Hackett comes over to check on Denver Broncos wide receiver Jerry Jeudy (10) after he gets hurt early in the game as the Denver Broncos took on the Houston Texans at Empower Field on September 18, 2022 in Denver, Colorado. It was the home opener for the Denver Broncos during week two of NFL season. (Photo by  RJ Sangosti/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
Is it already time for Nathaniel Hackett to consider delegating play-calling duties? (RJ Sangosti/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Credit to Hackett. His harshest critic couldn't have summed up the issue much more precisely. Hackett desperately needs to do better at making decisions faster and quicker. If he can do that moving forward — alongside ensuring that the decisions he makes are actually good ones — the remainder of his rookie campaign promises to improve.

It's obviously not that simple. Hackett did a fine job of identifying the problem on Monday. He didn't offer a solution. Of course, he doesn't owe the media a detailed solution in a Monday afternoon news conference. He does owe it to the fans, his team and himself a plan to improve his game management. It should be his top priority until/if he figures it out.

Hackett joined the Broncos as the respected architect of the high-octane Packers offense helmed by Aaron Rodgers. But he didn't call plays for the Green Bay offense. He did in previous coaching stops, but that job fell to head coach Matt LaFleur in Green Bay. Now Hackett's calling plays in addition to managing the game — a role he's taking on for the first time in his coaching career.

Is it too much to take on? If so, is Hackett willing to delegate some of the offensive duties to coordinator Justin Outten? Whatever the solution is, Hackett needs to find it quickly. The Chiefs, Chargers and Raiders aren't going to wait around for him to figure it out.