Greg Penner stops short of guaranteeing a full season for Nathaniel Hackett

DENVER BRONCOS VS JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS, NFL
Getty Images

In one breath, Broncos CEO Greg Penner seemed to pour water on the notion that coach Nathaniel Hackett could be fired during his first season on the job. In the next breath, that liquid became gasoline — and Penner was preparing to strike a match.

I support Nathaniel and really want to see him succeed,’’ Penner said Friday in London, via Mike Klis of 9News.com. “He’s a first-time head coach. There’s a lot of new things to get in place. He and I talk every week, and I love talking with him about the game. He’s incredibly passionate. But he knows we’re not performing at the level we expect, but we’ve got high expectations for him in the second half.’’

This clearly implies that Hackett will be coaching the second half of the season. Which clearly implies that he won’t be fired if the Broncos lose to the Jaguars on Sunday and fall to 2-6.

But then Penner expressly was asked whether this means Hackett will keep his job through Week 18.

“We’re never going to go into those kind of things,’’ Penner replied. “I’m supportive of Nathaniel, and we really want him to succeed. As you guys know, this is a week-to-week sport. So we’re always evaluating things, and our goal is to win as many games in the second half as we can.”

Uh. Oh.

Penner isn’t stupid. He’s sending a message. And the message is that anything can happen, that nothing is guaranteed.

Hackett has struggled through seven games. Complicating matters for Hackett is that other first-year, first-rime head coaches are doing better than Hackett — Giants coach Brian Daboll (6-1), Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell (5-1), Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel (4-3), and Bears coach Matt Eberflus (3-4).

Many coordinators fail as head coaches. New ownership in Denver didn’t hire Hackett. They can easily afford the buyout. The only unknown is whether they’d be sufficiently ruthless to fire a head coach whom they didn’t hire during his first season.

Penner had a clear vance to say “no,” and he didn’t. Which means that, quite possibly, the answer is “yes.”

33 responses to “Greg Penner stops short of guaranteeing a full season for Nathaniel Hackett

  1. Is there anyone on his staff that has previous HC experience? If so he’s as good as gone.

  2. A full season? I would be amazed if he makes it the rest of the month (and I know the month ends on Monday).

  3. Not a Broncos fan or Broncos enemy, but looking at it objectively, Hackett’s main problem is between the ears. That 64 yard FG attempt with time on the clock and TOs left was the most ridiculous play I’ve seen in the NFL ever. Then hiring an “advisor” to make his decisions said all they needed to say.

    Stupidity always reveals itself. Dump him before the Broncos become the laughing stock of the league.

  4. Forget about Hackett, Walmart should start by firing the GM who keeps bringing Melvin Gordon back, hired this coaching staff, and doomed the Broncos franchise by giving up the farm and then giving an albatross contract to a washed up QB before he ever took a single snap for that organization.

  5. I’m on the West Coast. If they lose, Hackett could be fired before I wake up Sunday morning and before their plane enters U.S. airspace.

  6. Head coaches make mistakes all the time in one fashion or another, but even then the ones who have what it takes to establish foundations, build and manage all those working around him is usually plainley seen by all. The ones who just aren’t built for the job can be equally plainley seen and Hackett fits the latter. If he goes back to being an OC, he’ll most likely do as well if not better than ever before because that’s his best fit.

  7. They will be letting him go after they lose to my Jag’s on Sunday. Might make him fly home first and tell him Monday but it is happening.

  8. Is anyone surprised. Don’t forget was fired from buffalo and jags offensive coordinator.

  9. Guarantee it for what? If he doesn’t beat the Jags on Sunday, he’s getting fired like every other bad coach who goes overseas and never comes back with them. It’s an NFL tradition.

  10. If you asked which rookie head coach had the inside track on having a successful season, based on rosters alone, about the only one who would have bet on Coach Daboll would have been is mother.
    And she would have won over the rest of the planet.

  11. Chuck Noll was 1-13 his first season, then went on to win 4 super bowls. Bill Walsh was 2-14 his first season, then went on to win 3 super bowls, and his successor won 2 more. Jimmy Johnson was 1-15 his first season, then went on to win 2 super bowls, and his successful won another. What do these 3 coaches have in common? They all had Hall of Fame owners who stuck by their decision to hire these coaches. The reason they hired new coaches in the first place was because their teams were awful. These owners were smart. The fans and the media were all calling for the firings of these 3 HOF coaches, similar to what we’re doing right now with Hackett. I don’t expect every fan to pay attention to football the way I do, but for those who care, here’s a little history lesson. The moral of the story is owners don’t usually change something that’s working. And if you take over a poor organization and don’t make any changes, you’ll soon be out the door, as well. When a smart coach takes over a bad team and wants to change it into a good team, it takes a couple years. Bill Walsh won his first super bowl his third season. He didn’t do it with the players he inherited, he drafted a lot of great players. Same with Chuck Noll and Jimmy Johnson. Seriously, Bill Walsh wasn’t “built for the job”. Jimmy Johnson was a “college coach who was in over his head”. Chuck Noll was a “career assistant”. Unable to be a leader. Go back and read the old papers. I’m not making this stuff up. Another thing that hasn’t changed. It was a QB league back then, too. All three of these coaches drafted a HOF QB. Hackett will be fine. Give him a chance. So far, he’s doing better than some of the greatest coaches in history did their first seasons.

  12. It’ll be the most *Walton pinching-his-pennies* move if Hackett is fired and has to fly his own way back to the United States

  13. Greg should worry less about Nathaniel Hackett and more about drawing the ire of Frank Costanza.

  14. The biggest issue is he’s an offensive guy and it’s the offense that’s the problem. Leaves him zero people to blame

    At this point, Denver is just throwing good money after bad the longer they keep him around

  15. Hackett hasn’t been a successful play caller, his Dad was a mediocre coach, that’s how he’s in the league…nepotism and buddies are how you get hired..it’s why the league is so poorly coached..

  16. Here’s the problem – Denver bought into the whole idea that Carroll was holding back Russ and that if they let him “cook” he’d make beautiful meals.

    It’s just not true.

    Seattle let him cook and he started out hot until defenses figured him out and he threw a ton of picks. He was then demoted from head chef back to sous chef.

    Denver should have noticed that before trading for him and before giving him the massive contract.

    Instead they traded for him and designed the offense around what he WANTS to be and not what he is.

    It won’t end nicely. Either Denver brings in a new coach who tries to placate Russ with similar results or they bring in a coach who runs more of a Seattle style plan and then Russ will be unhappy and begin all the passive aggressive crap he constantly did in Seattle.

    Enjoy.

  17. Kind of pointless to fire him mid season.

    Do you really think doing so is going to vault Denver’s performance into the higher reaches of the NFL?

    This needs a thoughtful and complete change of approach and that won’t happen on the fly with an interim coach.

  18. charliecharger says:
    October 28, 2022 at 9:17 pm
    Chuck Noll was 1-13 his first season, then went on to win 4 super bowls. Bill Walsh was 2-14 his first season, then went on to win 3 super bowls, and his successor won 2 more. Jimmy Johnson was 1-15 his first season, then went on to win 2 super bowls, and his successful won another. What do these 3 coaches have in common? They all had Hall of Fame owners who stuck by their decision to hire these coaches. The reason they hired new coaches in the first place was because their teams were awful. These owners were smart. The fans and the media were all calling for the firings of these 3 HOF coaches, similar to what we’re doing right now with Hackett. I don’t expect every fan to pay attention to football the way I do, but for those who care, here’s a little history lesson. The moral of the story is owners don’t usually change something that’s working. And if you take over a poor organization and don’t make any changes, you’ll soon be out the door, as well. When a smart coach takes over a bad team and wants to change it into a good team, it takes a couple years. Bill Walsh won his first super bowl his third season. He didn’t do it with the players he inherited, he drafted a lot of great players. Same with Chuck Noll and Jimmy Johnson. Seriously, Bill Walsh wasn’t “built for the job”. Jimmy Johnson was a “college coach who was in over his head”. Chuck Noll was a “career assistant”. Unable to be a leader. Go back and read the old papers. I’m not making this stuff up. Another thing that hasn’t changed. It was a QB league back then, too. All three of these coaches drafted a HOF QB. Hackett will be fine. Give him a chance. So far, he’s doing better than some of the greatest coaches in history did their first seasons.

    ———————————————————————————

    Statistically, you’re correct. The problem with this train of thought is that all three were great at making decisions and in evaluating personnel. Hackett has shown that, to put it charitably, he needs help with decision making, and the jury is still out on his personnel evaluation skills.

    And, to be fair, generally, decisions by ownership are made much more impulsively these days than in the eras that these three men coached.

  19. “Chuck Noll was 1-13 his first season, then went on to win 4 super bowls. Bill Walsh was 2-14 his first season, then went on to win 3 super bowls”

    Noll arrived in Pittsburg in 1969. Bradshaw arrived in 1970. Same with Walsh..first year…DeBerg,but second year…Joe Montana.

    Hackett is starting with a supposedly top tier QB. And it’s not as much that Denver is losing. It’s that the offense looks horrible, not just bad. Wilson looks like he never played the game before.

  20. Comparing Nathaniel Hackett to Bill Walsh, Chuck Noll and Jimmy Johnson? He’ll bounce around the league, a retread, make a lot of money, just a body…You owe the three guys above a big ass apology.

  21. A GM that fires a 1st year head coach before allowing him to work out all the bugs,… is probably a GM that is about to get fired too.
    Virtually all new head coaches go through some bumps in the road,… and many end up as good teams the next year. To fire Hackett before he gets a fair chance is ridiculous.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.