The old saying goes that NFL stands for “Not For Long.”
The Broncos are holding course this week, but Nathaniel Hackett on Monday sounded like a head coach who figures more operational changes could be on the horizon.
Denver is in the midst of a four-game losing streak and has scored just eight offensive touchdowns in seven games this season, but also is traveling across the Atlantic Ocean on Monday afternoon to get ready for a Sunday game against Jacksonville at Wembley Stadium in London. After that, the team has its bye week.
“Right now, on a short week, we’re going to keep the status quo,” Hackett said before the team boarded its charter flight to London. “We’re all going to work together to build a great plan. I feel like our operation has been going really well. We held the ball for a long time (against the Jets), we moved the ball, we just didn’t convert on some third downs that kind of stalled us.
“But we’re going to keep going how we are and we’re going to evaluate everything. We always do. We always do. We always want to get better and do everything we can to be able to help this team be better as coaches.”
The embattled first-year head coach has already shown a willingness to make changes to his operation. After a pair of high-profile blunders in Denver’s first two games, he hired former Baltimore Ravens assistant Jerry Rosburg to assist in game management.
On Sunday, after getting shut out in the second half and seeing back-up quarterback Brett Rypien throw the ball 46 times — 28 in the second half compared to just seven rush attempts — Hackett was asked if he’d consider giving up play-calling duties.
“If there’s something that we all agree where I might hold the team back or anything like that, sure. I don’t think that’s the case,” Hackett said. “I think there are plays to be had there. I think we’ve been in and out of the huddle and everything with communication has been really good. But we’ll look at everything.
“We’ll always look at everything to try to improve and help this offense.”
That’s why this week’s long trip comes at a unique time for the Broncos. Not only are they struggling mightily offensively, but right after they get back to the United States early next week, the trade deadline arrives Nov. 1. The Broncos don’t play again until visiting Tennessee on Nov. 13.
That makes the two-week break the next — and last — best chance for Denver to make any kind of substantial change that could lead to a spark.
“I’ve always believed that where communication lacks, negativity fills the void,” Hackett said. “As long as we keep that communication open at all times, we’ll keep everybody together so we can all band together and get ourselves out of this hole and out of this losing streak. No matter where you are in this league during the season, you have to get on a run at some point. We need to get on that run and start winning some football games.”
Hackett and the staff thought that having 11 days between games earlier this month would provide opportunity to better hone in the offensive approach, but Denver has scored 16 and nine points in consecutive losses since then and lost quarterback Russell Wilson to a hamstring injury in the process.
“I think everybody in our locker room feels the urgency to get better,” Rypien said Sunday. “That starts with every single guy looking at themselves in the mirror and figuring out what I can do to help this offense and help this team because when your defense is playing as well as our defense is, you shouldn’t be losing games. That’s just point-blank. Period. A fact.
“We have to figure out what we can do to turn this thing around because I still think we have a good team. We have to figure out what are our best plays on offense.”
Denver’s offense hasn’t got that part figured out through seven games on American soil. Now it’ll try to get a turnaround started in England.
“We’re going there to win a game first and foremost,” Hackett said. “I think it’s so important to let the guys get out there and be together and work through it. Everybody needs to look from within. We’ve put ourselves in this position and we need to get ourselves out of this position. It’s that simple.”