Denver’s effort to explain fourth-down decision doesn’t hold water

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Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett made a bad decision on Monday night. Most if not all football fans agree with that. Questions still linger regarding how and when the decision was made.

Hackett has said that trying a 64-yard field goal was the plan all along. The video of the seconds that inexplicably ticked away before the Broncos called a time out seem to suggest that, in reality, they were considering the possibility of trying to convert a fourth-and-five play.

Quarterback Russell Wilson‘s explanation from his midweek press conference bolstered the notion that they weren’t simply implementing a predetermined plan to call time out and to try a field goal.

“I was at the line of scrimmage ready to go for it, too,” Wilson said. “I was calling a play and we were ready to go, but that’s what we decided, and we went with it.”

That’s definitely not what Hackett told reporters on Tuesday.

“Right away,” Hackett said as to when the decision to kick was made. “Russell knew it, he knew I was going to take a time out so he was going to see if he could get them to jump offsides, or anything like that. Which got me a little nervous because the crowd was so loud, I didn’t want us to jump offsides or anything like that. But that’s why, he just got up there was going to try to get them to jump.”

That’s just not true. Not even remotely. Watch the video of the moment. Confusion and uncertainty permeated the offensive side of the ball. When they finally lined up, Wilson never got into a real cadence. How could he have? There was no hard count because there could be no count at all. As Chris Simms pointed out on Thursday’s PFT Live, the left guard was turning back to Wilson, watching for Wilson to raise his leg. That would have been the signal to the guard to tap the center to snap the ball.

These are small points, but also big ones. Ownership is finalizing its first impression of Hackett. Nothing will change the outcome of the game or the way it ended. Hackett can either make it better by admitting what happened and owning it, or make it worse by offering up one or more full or partial untruths in an effort to conceal his blunder.

The Broncos are now owned by captains of corporate America. And, in corporate America, an employee dramatically undermines his or her credibility by trying to hide a mistake. Mistakes happen, to everyone. Management, in its never ending quest to separate the people it can trust from the people it can’t, will respect someone who admits to a mistake — and it will sour on someone who refuses to do so.

Hackett made a mistake. It’s obvious. He’s trying too hard to conceal it. Unless he’s saying what he has been saying at the express direction of ownership, he’s putting himself in a very bad position. Ownership will view him differently. They will doubt that they can trust him. And, depending on how the next 16 games go, they quite possibly will decide to find another coach for 2023.

Whether that happens depends on Hackett. But the simple truth is that he dug a hole for himself on Monday night. Since then, he has continued to dig.

16 responses to “Denver’s effort to explain fourth-down decision doesn’t hold water

  1. Give it a rest already, it was week 1. On to week 2…if they don’t show better decision making as the season progresses then we can all start worrying

  2. Yawn. Let it go, for gosh sakes. He made a mistake, we all get it. If the kicker was a little more to the right, Hackett is celebrated for his boldness. He missed it, so Hackett’s an inept boob. And starting tonight – Week Two.

  3. Why would he say “we were disorganized and unsure of what to do. Someone (maybe me) made the executive decision eventually to pull Wilson off the field and kick the field goal. It didn’t work.” He doesn’t owe to the media to give every single element of the decision. It’s much better if he just says “our plan was to kick it, it didn’t work, it was a mistake. I own up to it and take responsibility for it and we’ll move forward, 16 more games to go.”

  4. I don’t get all the attention that this game has generated. It’s as if if they went for it they would win the game. Plus, if it was a different QB, there would be way less criticism.
    Tempest in a teacup.

  5. I don’t have a dog in this fight BUT, for starters it’s only 1 game.
    Second, if the kick was good I wouldn’t be wasting my time writing this. Third, well hell I forgot what I was going to say. Broncos will be fine.

  6. Why are we still talking about this? It wasn’t a bad decision – the kick was inches from good. Denver is not yet a good team – they are the same team they have been the past 4 years with a mid tier QB. They shouldnt have won that game – period.

    But – move on. Its over.

  7. in corporate America, an employee dramatically undermines his or her credibility by trying to hide a mistake.
    I fully disagree. No one gets ahead by owning up to mistakes. Those at the top of corporate America have successfully shifted the blame for all the messes they’ve left behind.

  8. First game as a head coach, new staff for the most part as well. Hopefully they’ll learn from this.

  9. I obviously love the Broncos, but this was a joke. It reminds many of us the uncle Vic years where time management abolutley sucked. RB’s averaged over 6 yards per carry. Less than 20 runs…40 passes. Hackett thinks he is smarter than he is.

  10. WOW! Why are we still talking about this, one game, he is a rookie coach first time coaching a major game. Who is this guy to say Cooperate America owns the Broncos, the Broncos belong to Bronco Country, the owners that own it need to realize that. In Colorado we love our Broncos, we love Russell Wilson, we love Peyton Manning, and John Elway two hall of fame QB and another one on the way. Everyone is getting way to worked up it was an NFL deliberate attempt to spark their ratings it is after all about money. Russell Wilson had to return on his first game to the place he left as a traded QB. He is playing with a rookie coach and a rookie team. Unlike Peyton Manning Veterans were not placed around Wilson. In addition, I hate to compare the two but I feel the need too since the media is unloading on both my coach and QB. Wilson is a great QB and can stand on his own. I think people are ticked because Wilson wanted to come to Denver. Everyone thinks Denver Broncos are nothing but they have two Hall of Fame Quarterbacks and have won three SuperBowls but no one ever gives us credit. My point was going to be Peyton lost some games too when he came they have to have time to work out the logistics people have to get use to each other. Hackett will be a good coach, hopefully he is not listening to all the people criticizing him. It takes time to learn to be a head coach but the Bronco leadership saw something in Hackett to benefit the team. Unlike all the critics I will wait in see it was one game. A game the NFL orchestrated to generate revenue and ratings that is all. We should of won the game but only lost by one point it was not a blowout or anything. That is why does not make sense why everyone is freaking out! One game and it was not a blowout, the Broncos held the Seahawks and the rookies made rookie mistakes get over it. Was Belichick a good coach at the beginning? No Was Pete Carroll a good coach when he started no. The list goes on it took time for them to develop and learn. So get off Nathaniel Hacketts back, lets wait and see what he can do. Go ahead and think that Russell Wilson is all washed up? Thats what they said about Peyton Manning and look what he did for the Denver Broncos. Yes, I know Russell Wilson is not Peyton Manning but he is not a midteir Quarter Back. I cannot believe people say things like that and it is all because they do not like or respect the Denver Broncos. Go ahead but remember Russell Wilson and Peyton Manning both chose Denver! That says a lot about an organization (Hoping the new owners do not screw it up)!

  11. The person who is a Denver Bronco fan and says the game was a joke is not a real fan. If you were a real fan, you would give the coach and Russell, players to gel and get the pieces working. You would remember that Peyton did not win all of his first games or make it to the Super Bowl the First year in Denver it all takes time. The game was not a joke good things came out of it. Rookie mistakes for both players and Coach. I am so tired of everyone trashing the Broncos, Peyton did not even have to play in Indy until his second year and I think he lost that game. Russell Wilson had to return to Seattle, play in a game for the NFL Corporate America for ratings and money. They lost by one point get over it not a joke. They now have a game behind them and can correct the mistakes. Russell Wilson is going to Shine just like Peyton did once everything go in synch. America get over it, it was one game! Let it go! Move on!

  12. Hackett should own up. His QB has won more games in the 4th quarter than any QB over the last 20 years. He simply made a mistake. Anybody knows you give Russ a chance to get 5 yards.

    He should own it & move on. The idea that is “only one game” completely misses the point that you only get to play 17 a year. Plus, that’s why you got Wilson-to win those type games. Taking the ball from him for a unmakeable kick was ridiculous.

  13. Seahawks held Denver and Wilson multiple times on 4th down in this game. The bottom line is that Hackett and Wilson had zero confidence in converting and didn’t want to see the quarter billion dollar investment get laughed off the field by the fans at the end so they tucked tail, ran the clock, and sent the poor kicker out there. The end.

  14. kamthechancellor says:
    September 15, 2022 at 5:51 pm
    Seahawks held Denver and Wilson multiple times on 4th down in this game. The bottom line is that Hackett and Wilson had zero confidence in converting and didn’t want to see the quarter billion dollar investment get laughed off the field by the fans at the end so they tucked tail, ran the clock, and sent the poor kicker out there. The end.

    This is exactly right. Little Russell Wilson was rattled and didn’t want to fail and be laughed endlessly.

    Denver fans will find, over time, that Wilson is about Wilson.

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