Thursday, October 6, 2022

Broncos’ Nathaniel Hackett focused on strengthening end-of game decision making after Week 1 loss to Seahawks

After publicly admitting that, with hindsight, he should not have opted for the 64-yard field goal attempt in Monday night’s loss to Seattle, Denver Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett spent time this week working with his staff to strengthen his process for end-of-game and crunch-time decision making.

“It’s been about refining the thinking process,” one Broncos source said. “It’s also how did you arrive at that decision? Who was involved? What was the communication flow? Well before the game, pregame, during the game, during that drive, what could you have done better?”

Hackett had the misfortune of being the only rookie head coach not to win in Week 1. He lost on national television, to a team his current quarterback used to play for, after he settled for a field goal attempt that wasn’t truly in his kicker’s range instead of letting his quarter-billion-dollar quarterback try to convert the fourth-and-5.

Some of the process-tightening done in Denver involves better coach-to-player and coach-to-coach communication.

“It’s not having the arrogance to think everything’s perfect,” the source continued. “Having some humility both publicly and internally and looking critically at our operation.”

The Broncos were overall pleased with their offense. Their 433 yards of total offense against Seattle were more than in any game last season.

If faced with a fourth-and-medium near midfield with the game on the line today against the Texans, you better believe Hackett would go for it. Consider it lesson learned. But some of these kinks could have possibly been worked out in the preseason.

Hackett chose to sit the majority of his starting offense for the three preseason games. Getting a truer run at gameday operations made it much more difficult that way, as Hackett and the Broncos found out.

Additionally, the Broncos found themselves snapping the ball very late in the play clock against Seattle. Some of it had to do with the crowd noise, and perhaps Hackett could have gotten the play call in sooner, but it also falls on quarterback Russell Wilson to get his offense out of the huddle and set more quickly.

According to Pro Football Focus, the Broncos had 13 plays where they snapped the ball with one second left on the play clock out. That’s out of 64 total plays, and there were two delay of games and three false starts in there.

If Wilson plans to survey the defense and let the clock wind down, getting out of the huddle with more pace will be necessary.

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