Nathaniel Hackett has changed his mind.
It is given at night and is supposed to be digested reactions to his decision Confidence in Monday’s game to attempt a 64-yard field goal instead of his $245 million, the Denver Broncos coach expressed a change of mind on Tuesday.
“Looking back we definitely had to go for it,” Hackett told reporters on Tuesday.
The “it” in this case, is to try to convert the fourth and fifth of the Seattle 46-yard line in the last minute of Monday 16-16 loss to the Seahawks. Hackett, a rookie coach running a regular season game in the NFL for the first time, actually didn’t.
Instead, after Jafonte Williams earned a third pass and 14 from Russell Wilson for a 9-yard gain, Hackett allowed more than 45 seconds of the game clock to run before calling up his first full allotment of three second-half layovers. 20 seconds left in the game.
Then he sent Brandon McManus, who missed Low field goal That would be tied to the second longest in League history If he succeeded. The Seahawks then took possession and ran out of time to win the match.
An alternative to Hackett’s decision was to allow Wilson to attempt to lead the Denver offensive to the range of the first and most reasonable field goal. Doing this in about 45 seconds on the clock instead of the remaining 20 seconds when Hackett finally called a timeout would have been optimal. In 2021, NFL teams turned 4th and 5th 23 times in 47 attempts – 48.9% success rate. Meanwhile, two of the balls in league history have been associated with field goals of 64 yards or more.
Adding to the confusion in Hackett’s decision is the Wilson factor. This Offseason, the Broncos have been replaced by Wilson, the Seahawks icon who oversaw a decade of success and led the franchise to its only Super Bowl. Then they signed him for a $245 million extension with a $165 million guarantee. On Monday, he presented a scenario that led to the Broncos investing in Wilson. Instead, Hackett put the game on the kicker’s foot. Wilson’s debut in the Broncos in front of his former home audience inflated the situation.
Hackett argued late Monday night that the Broncos targeted the 46-yard line, and that when Williams unexpectedly hit the mark, the decision had already been made to attempt a field goal. He repeated that line of thinking on Tuesday as the reason behind his decision to attempt a field goal.
“Only — one of those things, you look at it again and say ‘Of course we should follow it. We lost a field goal. In this case, we had a plan. We knew the number 46 was the sign…
“We were expecting to get him fourth. And then you hit the mark.”
To be fair, this is a reasonable explanation. It is possible for an inexperienced trainer to test tunnel vision and stick to a predetermined goal without taking other situational factors into account during a moment of high stress. But it doesn’t make the consequences of the decision any less painful for the Broncos franchise that has invested so much in this successful season.
Hackett joined the Broncos this season with great fanfare as the former architect of high-octane Green Bay crime – a stark contrast to Vic Fangio’s era mantra. Monday’s loss – more precisely how I lost the match – dramatically reduced that hype.
It’s just one game of course, and Hackett sure has time to redeem himself and the Denver season. Tuesday’s admission that giving Wilson a chance to secure the first drop is a small step in that direction. Meanwhile, it’s hard to imagine a worse opening stroke than Hackett on his Bronco debut.