The Denver Broncos have fired coach Nathaniel Hackett after just 15 games, the team announced Monday.
Hackett previously served as the Packers offensive coordinator for three seasons before he was hired as the Broncos head coach. He has compiled a 4–11 record in his first season with Denver.
In a statement Broncos owner and CEO Greg Penner said, “Following extensive conversations with George [Paton] and our ownership group, we determined a new direction would ultimately be in the best interest of the Broncos.”
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Penner went on to announce that the organization will quickly start a search for a new coach.
“This change was made now out of respect for everyone involved and allows us to immediately begin the search for a new head coach. We recognize and appreciate this organization’s championship history, and we understand we have not met that standard. Our fans deserve much better, and I can’t say enough about their loyalty during such a challenging stretch for our team.”
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The Broncos entered the season with expectations of competing for a Super Bowl, but they have been one of the most disappointing teams in the NFL this year.
The team executed a blockbuster trade for veteran quarterback Russell Wilson during the offseason and signed him to a massive five-year $245 million which included $165 million guaranteed. However, Wilson has engineered one of the worst offenses in the league.
Hackett’s firing comes just one day after the Broncos embarrassing loss to the Rams in which they gave up 51 points.
After the Christmas Day meltdown, Hackett admitted the team was not prepared to play.
The Broncos’ defense has carried the team virtually all year, but the offense has been largely disappointing. Earlier this season Denver had the top-ranked scoring defense, but also featured a league worst scoring offense.
Denver was eliminated from postseason contention earlier this season and has now missed the playoff for seven straight years.
Penner closed his statement by expressing confidence in George Paton, the team’s general manager.
“Moving forward, we will carefully evaluate every aspect of our football operations and make whatever changes are necessary to restore this franchise’s winning tradition. I will lead our head coaching search with support from our ownership group and George, whom I have confidence in as our general manager. As we begin the process of selecting our next head coach, we remain focused on playing competitive football to finish the season on a positive note.”
The Broncos’ new ownership, the Walton-Penner Group, is led by Walmart heir Rob Walton, his daughter Carrie Walton Penner and son-in-law Greg Penner.
At the time of Hackett’s hiring, Paton described the coach as a “dynamic leader and coach whose intelligence, innovation and charisma impressed us from the very start of the process.”
But the positivity surrounding Hackett’s hiring was short-lived and his in-game decisions were almost immediately called into question once the season kicked off.
In Week 1, Hackett elected to attempt a 64-yard field goal instead of allowing Wilson to try and convert a fourth-and-5 in the final minute of a game against the Seahawks. Brandon McManus’ kick went wide left and the Broncos went on to lose 17-16.
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The Broncos did not immediately name an interim head coach, but a news conference is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.