The Denver Broncos renewed almost everything in the offseason … for nothing.
They went 7-10 and were last in the AFC West in 2021, but still had one of the most talented rosters in the game that was being held back by poor quarterback play and a questionable coach.
With the new ownership came a new quarterback in nine-time Pro Bowler Russell Wilson and new head coach Nathaniel Hackett.
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Starting with his first game, Hackett came under intense scrutiny. He burned out the clock to attempt a 64-yard field goal instead of a fourth-and-fifth in Seattle’s Week 1, which was just a preview for the rest of the season.
Hackett didn’t even complete this season. The 4-11 Broncos fired him Monday with two games remaining.
Despite his problems, Wilson had nothing but praise for his former head coach, the second he played for in the NFL after Pete Carroll.
“I think he’s an incredible man, an incredible teacher, an incredible father just watching him with his kids, and what he’s been able to do and how he’s taught us the game,” Wilson. told reporters on Wednesday.
“This season has been a season that we never thought was going to happen the way it did, and he was a guy who put all his time, all his effort into us as players, staff members, everyone, coaches as well. I think that He’s going to be an amazing coach, one of the brightest minds I’ve ever been around…He’s resilient, he’s a tremendous coach, I love him to death, and everyone misses him for sure.”
Hackett’s decisions were questioned on a weekly basis, but it’s hard to imagine he was solely responsible for the turn Wilson took this season.
Wilson’s 60.1 completion percentage is the worst of his career, and barring something crazy in the last two games, he won’t have thrown 20 touchdowns for the first time in his career. He has just 12 in 13 games this season.
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“It’s been a crazy season: tons of injuries, tons of everything else. But the reality is, I wish I could have played better for him, too. I wish I could have played at the standard level that I’ve always played at.” he said.
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It is now seven straight seasons without a playoff appearance for the Broncos, whose last performance resulted in a 2016 Super Bowl title in Peyton Manning’s final NFL game.
And the Broncos don’t have a first-round pick this year, currently the third overall pick. They traded it to acquire Wilson.