Rarely in this day and age is there anything on which the vast majority of people agree. Tonight, we found something around which we could all rally.
In his first game as a head coach, Nathaniel Hackett made a bizarre decision to take the football out of Bronco quarterback Russell Wilson‘s hands with the game on the line, opting for a field goal.
Not a 34-yard field goal. Or a 44-yard field goal. Or a 54-yard field goal. Hackett opted to dial up a 64-yard field goal attempt — which would have been the second-longest in league history — in lieu of giving Wilson a chance to convert on fourth and five.
Making the situation even more bizarre was that the Broncos allowed nearly all of the play clock to expire before calling their first time out of the second half, with 20 seconds to play.
After the game, Hackett said they were “right on the line” of the distance from which kicker Brandon McManus can convert. But it was still a 64-yard field goal.
And they have Wilson. That’s why they gave up all those picks. That’s why they gave him all that money. To deliver in moments like that. Especially when he’s back in Seattle, for perhaps the only time in the balance of his career.
It’s indefensible. It’s incomprehensible. It’s inexcusable.
Fortunately for Hackett, he doesn’t have to answer directly to the many fans and media who think it was idiotic to not try to convert on fourth and five. But he will have to answer to owners who didn’t hire him to be the head coach. And Greg Penner, Rob Walton, and company will surely have some tough questions to ask Hackett.
He’ll have answers for them. Football coaches always do. And he has the security of a freshly-minted contract to protect him against the ultimate accountability for an ultimately bone-headed decision.
But he’d better redeem himself quickly. Even if he’ll never admit it to anyone but himself, he has to know that, in a moment of truth, he made the wrong call. And he would hardly be the first coach to make it only one year on the job. (It’s not as if the new owners can’t afford the buyout.)
Think of it this way. If he’d gone for it with Wilson and failed, would anyone by saying, “Man, you should have tried a 64-yard field goal instead of trusting your franchise quarterback?”
Maybe someone, somewhere would have made that argument. Maybe someone who thought they were playing the game in, you know, Denver. Maybe someone who would apply hindsight no matter the outcome.
McManus is a great kicker. There’s no way that he’s good enough that you opt for a kick that long at sea level when you’ve just made a massive investment in a quarterback in whom you supposedly have sufficient faith to gain five yards in a gotta-have-it situation.
If you don’t believe in Russell Wilson in that moment, why did you go all-in for him? That was the moment to lay the cards in the table and see what they had in Wilson.
Let Russ cook? It was let Russ watch. And Wilson may have some thoughts about the decision. Thoughts that he surely won’t be sharing publicly.