Three nights ago, the Broncos lost to Seattle in a way that included one of the strangest real-time coaching decisions we’ve seen in a while. Will it linger in the locker room?
“We’ve already moved on,” coach Nathaniel Hackett told reporters on Thursday. “That’s part of this whole thing. Whenever you get into big games at all — this is a great preparation for our guys because there’s always going to be adversity. The season is a roller coaster. There are ups, there are downs. It’s about how you respond to everything. It’s how you respond when you do well. If all of a sudden you do well and everybody thinks it’s great, there are still so many things that you can correct and you can get better on. I think it’s just about staying right there and right in the middle of those two things and just growing as a team — growing through the good and the bad. I think that’s what we’ve done up to this point.”
Hackett can say they’ve moved on. The players can say so, too. The question is whether, when the players talk among themselves, they wonder why Hackett chose to try a 64-yard field goal in lieu of letting Russ cook up a potential first down on fourth and five. it’s the kind of thing that can undermine a player’s faith in a coach, which can rear its ugly head in all sorts of ways as the season unfolds.
The torrent of external criticism continues, with all of it directed at Hackett. How does he block out the noise?
“That happens all the time,” Hackett said. “That’s part of the job. It’s what comes with it. I embrace it, and everybody is allowed to do that. You just don’t listen — you keep working and keep grinding. That’s pretty much what we’ve been doing, especially on a short week.”
Right, but some of the noise was avoidable. Hackett made an unenforced error, and he continues to refuse to fully own it. If he’d just admit that the his plan was bad and should have been abandoned, the noise would stop quickly.