The Denver Broncos of 2022 have not been what many people in the NFL world expected. With an overall record of 2-3, the Broncos have had horrible decisions in the game from their head coach Nathaniel Hackett and a horrible game from their quarterback Russell Wilson.
Peter King of NBC’s Football Morning in America wrote in his recent article that the Broncos are once again dysfunctional.
“The Broncos are a four-alarm fire right now, but I can’t see the neophyte owners making an instinctive move and replacing Hackett during the season. Rob Walton failed to be worth $70 billion, the richest owner in NFL history, making panic decisions,” King wrote.
The three-time National Sports Writer of the Year listed four things Hackett and the Broncos must do to change this season.
1. Melvin Gordon Banking Broker by Mike Boone
Gordon has had a loose ball problem this season in which he has lost the ball four times in the first four games of the season. The former first-round running back only found the end zone once this season and averages just 38.6 yards per rushing game.
Boone, on the other hand, looked good when he touched the ball. On just 10 carries, Boone averages 5.8 yards per carrying compared to Gordon’s 3.7. In the preseason, Boone averaged 4.1 yards per carrying behind a second and third offensive line.
2. Design running plays for Wilson
“Emphasize Wilson that he should start using his legs to prevent the defense from leaning back and just playing the pass,” King said.
So far this season, the Broncos haven’t asked for more than five career plays designed for Wilson. Against the Raiders, Wilson executed a read-option play that scored a touchdown from three yards, but that’s his only rushing touchdown of the season.
Over the course of five games, Wilson has only run 17 times for 73 yards. Averaging just 14.6 rushing yards, he currently ranks second-worst in Wilson’s career since last season, where he averaged 13.1.
3. Research the best of Seattle’s Wilson and see what could work now
The Broncos need to go back and see what Wilson did well in Seattle and install those plays in Denver’s playbook.
Wilson needs to be comfortable and when you look at quarterbacks with new teams, you’ll see coaches install plays and design plays that fit that quarterback. Even when Peyton Manning signed with the Broncos in 2012, Manning talked to offensive coaches and installed plays that he was not only running in Indianapolis but also in college.
4. Be open-minded
King mentioned, “Have a completely open mind about what doesn’t work and be willing to make changes you never dreamed of making a month ago, and tell Wilson that everything is on the table.”
For a team to succeed in the NFL, it must be able to adapt and, so far, it doesn’t look like the Broncos have done it offensively. King also added that he believes Denver should bring in Manning and choose his brain.
Wilson has not yet washed
“I refuse to believe that Wilson is at the end or near the end. He is too dedicated to his craft and sport for his career to collapse as it did last month. I don’t know if he’ll be great again, but I do think he’ll be a good NFL quarterback again,” King wrote.
Wilson has still shown glimpses that he can still be the quarterback who has appeared in two Super Bowls, but he needs to be more consistent on the field. The All-Pro quarterback needs to be able to turn a bad situation into a better one when he’s on the field. To be considered one of the greatest of all time, Wilson needs to go back and do the small things right.
“For now, I don’t know if the Broncos can be fixed. But I do know that when there’s a stream of hundreds of Broncos fans coming out of an overtime game, and it’s shown from inside and outside the stadium on a national broadcast, that’s not good. The Broncos are lucky to have two wins. They won’t get many more, even with superior defense, if Wilson and Hackett can’t turn it around.”
Don’t exonerate Hackett
King highlighted Wilson’s struggles in his recent article, but then mentioned that we cannot “exonerate Hackett.”
“Good coaches can see what works and what doesn’t, and they can adapt. Let’s see if Hackett can find ways to make his offense work after the serious injuries that ended the season in successive weeks of two pivotal offensive players: running back Javonte Williams and left tackle Garett Bolles.”
King also believes Hackett might have regretted hiring an inexperienced coaching staff. “If I had received reliable and consistent information about plays and clock management, I wouldn’t have had to make the emergency hire in the third week of retired Ravens special teams coach Jerry Rosburg to help him with game management.”
It also didn’t make sense to King that Hackett wouldn’t retain one of the NFL’s best offensive line coaches in Mike Munchak. “In building his coaching staff he didn’t keep the offensive line coach egoless, Munchak, one of the best line coaches in football. Munchak has family in Denver and wanted to stay with the Broncos after they fired coach Vic Fangio last year.
Instead, Hackett went out and signed Butch Barry from the San Francisco 49ers, who has never been the lead offensive line coach in the NFL. “It could be because Hackett likes to run a wide-area ground game, while Munchak has trained a more traditional ground game. Either way, Munchak is a well-respected coach and leader who could have had a lot more value than the X’s and O’s,” King said.
The Broncos need to figure things out and do it fast if they want to trade this season.