Englewood, Colorado – Week after week, the Broncos found themselves struggling to win close games.
Two touchdowns sealed the game in the final five minutes. consecutive overtime losses. All but one of the competitions were decided by a single score. The Broncos have positioned themselves to win every game this season, yet they are sitting at 3-6 with eight games remaining.
Their struggles can be attributed to a number of factors, including an ever-growing list of injuries, but the fact remains that the Broncos have been in every game. Had the team connected with a few extra plays all season, they might have been in a very different position – and knowing they kept coming close to a different outcome was a source of great frustration for coach Nathaniel. Hackett.
“We’re close, but that’s not what we’re here for,” Hackett said Monday. “We’re not here to be number one in close matches. We’re here to win football games. It shows that the guys in the locker room stick together, fight all the way to the end of the game, which I believe in and all the guys in this locker room do. It’s It shows we have the potential to win some of these games, but we have to fix these things.”
Down seven points with less than three minutes left in the game against Tennessee, quarterback Russell Wilson and the Broncos offense had a chance to run down the field and either tie or win the game. They did in Week 8 against the Jaguars, but Wilson was unable to implement his signature late slam dunk in this game, as he was intercepted on a final play on fourth down. He took 18 hits throughout the game, including six sacks, which made it hard to keep driving at key moments.
“You never want to see a quarterback get beaten,” Hackett said. “…I hate when he gets hit, but I know he does everything he can to try and make a play. He wants to do everything he can from that standpoint. I’ll tell you, I don’t think it’s necessarily one thing. I don’t think it was just the offensive line. I think we’re a collective group. That’s why we have to evaluate everything – from the players who are there, to the coaches, to everyone else to be able to make sure we get the best possible schemes.”
Crime does not meet expectations
Losing several close games put Denver’s offense in a very different place than Hackett had expected in the season. After a strong fall and training camp, the offense seemed to be on track for a great year – but with injuries and missed opportunities, the team underperformed noticeably.
“[My expectations were] Definitely not where we are right now, Hackett said. of course no. I think there were a lot of things taken into consideration [for] That, but as a team, as a group, as an offensive group, we want to make sure we put the best group out there. We want to make the best plays that suit us and that suit the offense and we’re obviously still working through that because it didn’t look like any of us wanted it to look.”
Hackett took personal responsibility for the offense’s struggles, stating that their inability to put points on the board begins with him.
“I think we’re evaluating everything,” Hackett said. “First, it starts with me. We have to make sure the play calls are the right play calls, people who are able to put players in the right position for success. We’ll evaluate that; we’ll evaluate everything we do.” We are 3-6, not where we want to be. Nobody accepts that, this is not the standard we want to be [meeting]. We don’t score enough – it’s that simple. We have to find a way to do that, so we’ll evaluate everything.”
As the offense has been looking to put the pieces together in its last eight games, Hackett said the offense needs to be more consistent in every aspect.
“Unfortunately, it was a bunch of different things,” Hackett said of the struggles. “It wasn’t just one thing. I think we need to be more consistent across the board in terms of the play, about how we adjust things for [Wilson] And I get it and I’m on the same page. Then it’s just execution. Something is going to work out just fine, and right after that, something might not work out the way we thought it was going to. Something might be in the way, or something might be up with Ross, perhaps protection. Collectively as a crime, we need to be more consistent. That’s what we haven’t been shown – for every game – over and over again.”
Consistency is hard to maintain when injuries force different sets of personnel each week, but the receiving blocks have risen to the challenge of playing without Jerry Goody and KJ Hamler. Rookie Jalen Virgil scored a touchdown on his first career reception, and Hackett drew high praise for Kendall Hinton’s contributions.
“I want to give him credit right away is Kendall Hinton,” Hackett said. “What Kendall did – he was under the weather. Jerry didn’t play that position that week because he was preparing for a different position. For him, he missed practice because of illness and then he goes out there and plays in that position the whole game.” [was impressive]. He did not have any mental errors. He went out there and did some plays. He fought it off, and did a great job.”