Kiz: I’ve covered the Broncos since 1983, bearing witness to more than 500 games for The Denver Post, and thought I’d seen it all. But I’ve never witnessed a hot mess like this. With Grade A trolling of rookie head coach Nathaniel Hackett’s utter lack of organization, the home crowd at the stadium mocked their beloved Broncos’ inability to snap the football on time by loudly counting down the play clock. What is going on here? And how does Hackett fix it?
Newman: New head coach… new offensive coordinator… new offensive system, including a new zone run blocking scheme… an offensive line already patchworking at two positions… and a new quarterback, even if he’s Hall of Fame-caliber. Add in Hackett’s insistence that the No. 1 offense didn’t see a single series in the preseason, and the result is exactly what we’re seeing: Rust, sloppiness and underperformance from a unit that was supposed to make us instantly forget about the insufferable Pat Shurmur Era.
Kiz: When I asked Hackett if calling plays, communicating with assistant coaches and serving as CEO on the sideline was more complicated than anticipated, he replied: “No … I just need to be sure I clean up exactly what I’m hearing, where I’m going with (the info) and make sure I’m on the same page for Russ (Wilson).” I’m sorry. But Hackett seems overwhelmed by the pressure on game day. Might moving from the sideline to the coaches’ box high above the stadium help him see the big picture?
Newman: Offensive coordinator Justin Outten, who does coach from the box, should be fulfilling that role. Outten should be the one helping smooth out the play selections, and he should also be in Hackett’s ear helping him with clock management on offense (if he wasn’t screaming “Timeout!” into the headset at the end of the Seattle game, he’s doing it wrong). The disconnect between those two and the Broncos’ on-field play so far has been apparent. Hackett has to get everyone on the same page before his discombobulation goes away.
Kiz: I miss Uncle Vic. OK, I’m teasing. But only a little. During his failed tenure as Broncos coach, Fangio was so wrapped up coordinating the defense that he often let the rest of the operation go haywire. I’d suggest Hackett should turn over calling plays for Wilson to Outten, but his offensive coordinator clearly lacks the experience to do it at the NFL level. So I don’t have an easy answer. But I do know this: Hackett must clean up this house before it falls on his head.
Newman: Somewhere, while enjoying his year off from the NFL, Fangio is smiling and taking a long, smoky puff of his cigar. At least Uncle Vic got out of the gate last year to a 3-0 start. Meanwhile Hackett, with a legitimate quarterback, is lucky to be 1-1. Sunday night’s primetime game against potent San Francisco will be a true litmus test: Can Hackett find his identity and out-scheme one of the NFL’s most highly regarded head coaches in Kyle Shanahan? If he can’t, a 1-2 start doesn’t bode well for when the schedule really stiffens up.