The Broncos have grossly underachieved under first-year head coach Nathaniel Hackett. They’ll try to avoid falling to 2-6 with a Sunday game against the Jaguars in London, as speculation swirls that a loss could prompt new ownership to make an in-season change that, frankly, most Broncos fans would likely welcome.
Hackett was asked by reporters on Wednesday whether he’s feeling any extra pressure.
“No,” he said. “I always put pressure on myself from the standpoint of that’s just me personally. We want to win every game. When you lose games, you’re very upset about it. We are who we are, and we have to dig ourselves out of this. As a team, we have to come together. We always talk about adversity because it’s part of this game. The teams as you move forward — the ones that are tested with adversity — usually have the best chance to move forward.”
He’s right, but the early-season adversity hasn’t sparked success. It hasn’t helped that the team has sputtered on multiple occasions in prime time, with confounding decisions and feckless offensive output for all to see. But for a late-game drive against the 49ers that somehow yielded a game-winning touchdown, the Broncos would have a single win on the season, against the Texans.
It would be highly unusual for a first-year coach to be relieved of his duties during his first season. (Then again, the Jaguars did it last year, with Urban Meyer.) But the Wal-Mart moguls who purchased the team for $4.65 billion have no NFL track record. We don’t know whether they’ll be patient, especially with someone they inherited from the prior regime. If they’ve come to the conclusion that Hackett simply can’t make the transition from coordinator to head coach (some can, many can’t), they quite possibly will decide not to wait until after the season to try to salvage their first campaign in charge.
The point becomes moot if the Broncos win. Through eight games, 3-5 will look a lot better than 2-6. If they lose, we’ll all find out what the new owners will do.
Either way, Hackett should be feeling extra pressure, based on his the team’s record, his own performance, and whatever role he had in recommending both the trade for quarterback Russell Wilson and the decision to sign him to a massive contract that already looks like one of the biggest mistakes any team has made, in years.