The Broncos have played two regular-season games under coach Nathaniel Hackett. And a troubling trend has emerged; they can’t get plays selected, communicated, and started before the clock gets dangerously close to zero.
The next test comes in prime time, on one of the biggest stages in football. Against one of the league’s better teams. With a home crowd that will be more than willing to help. By calling out the remaining seconds. Again.
So has Hackett made changes to his game-day operations for the Sunday night visit from the 49ers?
“That’s something that we really jumped into and wanted to make sure that we can get better at that,” Hackett told reporters on Wednesday. “That starts with me, and I’m doing every single thing I can to try to put myself in a position to be able to make quicker, faster [and] more efficient decisions. [General Manager] George [Paton], [Assistant General Manager Darren Mougey], all those guys have been absolutely spectacular in helping me through that process because that is something that is new for me. I think we’re going to have some good answers as we move forward.”
That’s fine, but shouldn’t these issues have been addressed well in advance of, you know, the games that count? Along with everything else Hackett has to do to get ready for a new opponent, he’s also figuring out the most basic aspects of getting the offense’s plays started on a timely basis?
Quarterback Russell Wilson separately was asked whether there’s anything he can do to speed things up.
“I always look at myself internally,” Wilson told reporters. “Is there anything else that I can do to speed up anything else? I think tempo in just different situations or scenarios. I think the biggest thing for me is continuing to play the game the way I know how to play it. Continue to keep my mind relaxed like I always am. I feel like I’ve been doing a great job of that. Especially for me, I’m starting somewhere brand new. There’s always going to be challenges, changes, and things that, ‘Okay, what if we did this differently? What if I said that a little bit differently?’ I’m learning guys, and how they receive all of that information. It’s been a lot of fun for me. To get my first win here in Denver last week in front of our home crowd was amazing. Like I said to you guys, what a joyful moment it was for me to, I love winning. That’s all I really care about. I care about winning and I care about the process of us getting better. That’s what we’re going to do today.”
At some point, Wilson needs to be more assertive in the overall process of Hackett picking plays and Hackett telling Wilson what they are and Hackett giving Wilson enough time to make pre-snap reads and adjustments. Wilson, put simply, needs to be willing at the proper time to take over.
That is what he wanted. To be the guy. He can’t be a bystander. He needs to be vocal and direct and blunt about what it takes to allow him to do his job to the best of his ability.
And Hackett needs to get things buttoned up, quickly. This is rarely an issue, for any NFL coach. If these issues lingers on the watch of Wal-Mart executives who didn’t hire Hackett, Hackett won’t.