Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett didn’t get grilled by reporters the way he should have been after Monday night’s loss to the Seahawks, given his inexplicable decision to dial up a 64-yard field goal attempt in lieu of attempting to convert on fourth and five, with plenty of time and multiple time outs.
He undoubtedly won’t enjoy such deference when meeting with ownership.
In the first game for the Penner-Walton group, they’ll have questions. What Hackett says will be as important as how he says it. During post-game practice, he talked way too fast. He’ll need, first and foremost, to slow it down when he’s sitting across from CEO Greg Penner.
And he’ll also need to be able to better explain why he trusted a guy who had a career success rate of 12.5 percent from 60 yards or longer in lieu of trusting quarterback Russell Wilson to convert a fourth-down play, given the massive investment the team has made in its franchise quarterback.
Owners have become more savvy in recent years. The in-house analytics executives help load them up with questions that cut through the jargon of coach speak. The coaches get challenged like never before. And they need to be convincing in their explanations.
For Hackett, the stakes will be as high. The new owners didn’t hire him. They are titans of industry. Their truest and most complete first impression of Hackett will be based on how he handles a difficult situation like this one.
His best play will be to admit that he made a bad decision. To acknowledge that, as he moves from the relative calm of the booth to the highest-setting blender of the sideline, things move very quickly and that he needs to learn how to make good decisions quickly.
His job isn’t riding on it today. But it could cloud ownership’s assessment of him just enough that his job will be riding on it later.