Broncos fire Nathaniel Hackett after 51-14 loss to Los Angeles Rams – The Denver Post


When Broncos general manager George Paton hired Nathaniel Hackett to his first NFL head coaching job 11 months ago, he hoped he was infusing a jolt of energy and offensive creativity back into a proud franchise in the midst of a six-year playoff drought.

Instead of Mile High offensive fireworks, however, Hackett installed and oversaw the worst offense in the league — a mess no number of resolute news conferences or tweaks to the coaching staff structure could solve.

Hackett was fired Monday after the team fell to 4-11 with an embarrassing 51-14 loss at the Los Angeles Rams, the team announced, ending an unsuccessful and brief run at what once looked like a promising landing spot.

How many times during the 2022 season did Broncos observers wonder if rock bottom had arrived? It wasn’t a 12-9 overtime loss to Indianapolis at home. It wasn’t getting swept by division-rival Las Vegas Raiders, who made a habit of blowing leads against everybody except Denver. And it wasn’t scoring 10 points out of the bye week at Tennessee.

Maybe it actually came Nov. 27 in Charlotte, when Denver was outplayed across the board by 3-8 Carolina — a team already operating with an interim head coach and backup quarterback after firing Matt Rhule five games into the season.

“It’s unacceptable,” Wilson said of Denver’s overall performance after that game. “Bottom line.”

Wilson, though, repeated that line almost verbatim after the latest embarrassment on Christmas Day against the similarly disappointing Los Angeles Rams.

A national television audience watched Denver fail to force a punt, turn the ball over four times and allow a team that had scored 24 points only twice in a season to roll up 31 before halftime and more points than any Broncos opponent since 2010 overall.

“That was a bad game. Embarrassing game,” Hackett said.

Paton and the franchise’s new ownership group ultimately arrived at the same conclusion about the entire season after a collapse that unfolded faster than nearly anybody could have imagined.

After all, Paton hired Hackett, 43, on Jan. 27 after a cross-country search that saw 10 candidates interviewed. Six weeks after Hackett arrived in Denver, the team traded five draft picks (including a pair of first-rounders) and three players for Wilson. That move simultaneously increased expectations for the franchise and the Broncos’ new head coach.


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