The Denver Broncos fired head coach Nathaniel Hackett Monday, following a humiliating 51-14 loss to the Los Angeles Rams that dropped the team’s record to 4-11.
Hackett, who was in his first year coaching the team, lost the confidence of the team’s new ownership, led by Walmart heir Rob Walton. The Broncos have struggled all season to score points despite quarterback and prized acquisition Russell Wilson.
“Following extensive conversations with (general manager) George (Paton) and our ownership group, we determined a new direction would ultimately be in the best interest of the Broncos,” Walton’s son-in-law, Greg Penner, said in a statement. “This change was made now out of respect for everyone involved and allows us to immediately begin the search for a new head coach.”
The Broncos have already been assured of missing the playoffs for the seventh consecutive season. Under previous owner Pat Bowlen, the team went to seven Super Bowls in 30 years, winning three times, including back-to-back in 1998 and 1999.
Hackett was hired in January after serving three seasons as offensive coordinator for the Green Bay Packers. He edged out former Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell, who instead was hired by the Minnesota Vikings who are 12-3 under him. After hiring Hackett, the Broncos traded two first-round picks and a pair of second-rounders for Wilson, who they then signed to a five-year, $245 million contract.
Nathaniel Hackett didn’t even get a full year as NFL head coach. Broncos are in rough shape after giving up all their picks & having Russell Wilson signed for $200 million+. Absolutely have to get Mr. Unlimited fixed. So who can do it? Is there anyone? Who’s your hire?
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) December 26, 2022
Wilson is having by far the worst season of his career and played poorly again on Sunday, throwing three interceptions. With the likely future Hall of Famer under center, the team is averaging a mere 15.5 points per game.
Hackett has made several questionable calls during the season, beginning in the first game against Seattle, in which he had his kicker attempt a 64-yard field goal instead of going for a first down while trailing 17-16 with less than a minute to play.
Walton headed up a group that paid a record $4.65 billion for the team in a deal that went through just before the start of the season. Walton is the 19th richest person in the world with a Forbes-estimated net worth of $60 billion, and is now the richest owner in the league. Next is Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper, who is worth $16.7 billion.
The storied team, which was founded in 1960, has had Hall of Famers John Elway and Peyton Manning quarterback it to NFL championships and other Denver players now enshrined in Canton include Floyd Little, Terrell Davis, Champ Bailey, and Steve Atwater.