This post contains affiliate links. “As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”
ENGLEWOOD, Col. – Nathaniel Hackett and Justin Outten are the next in line to battle what has been a well-known problem for the Denver Broncos, a problem that has plagued several coaches since the Broncos won the Super Bowl 50 after the 2015 season.
Since Peyton Manning retired after that championship, Outten is the team’s sixth offensive coordinator and Nathaniel Hackett its fourth head coach. The Broncos have had 11 different starting quarterbacks after Manning and, more importantly, zero playoff appearances.
These coaches and quarterbacks have lost their jobs in large part due to a misdemeanor that has not been consistently able to get the ball to its best players and has scored far too few touchdowns. Outten and Hackett, along with a starting quarterback who will later be named, will now be tasked with solving that puzzle.
“Our goal is to score points here, and that’s how you win football matches – to find creative ways, especially when you get down in the red zone,” Outten said earlier this week when presented with the rather ugly truths of the last six seasons. “Placing the ball in the end zone is your No. 1 goal. These coaches will work tirelessly and try to find ways to put the ball in the hands of our playmakers.”
This is not a new goal. The Broncos have not averaged more than 23 points per game since 2014 and more than 21 points per game in the six seasons since Manning’s retirement.
Opposing defensive coaches have privately said the Broncos have not consistently emphasized their defensive game plans in the passing game. Once the Broncos have had to throw the ball, their pass protection would not consistently last long enough, regardless of staffing, to allow them to get the ball to their best players.
To that end, wide receiver Courtland Sutton had six games last season with three or fewer goals and 11 games with three or fewer receptions. Still, Sutton still led the team in both catch and receiving yards.
When asked about the most common problems that prevent a team from getting the ball to its primary weapon, Outten talked about having to make sure the plan is tailored each week for who is in the lineup along with what defense the Broncos will meet. It’s a pretty basic, basic idea that the Broncos have not been able to execute. They have also struggled to make adjustments in the game when the original plan is not going well.
The Broncos scored on their opening run only three times last season – two touchdowns, one field goal – and had a first down or fewer on 10 game-opening drives. They did not feel much better after the break. They scored on just six drives to open the second half and got a first down or fewer on eight drives to open the third quarter.
“We have to make sure we’re proud of our preparation and give these guys answers out there, because sometimes defense will throw you a basket ball,” Outten said. “They will allow you to prepare for certain things like that. You need to have answers in your back pocket, and those are the things we need to develop in OTAs this offseason and training camp. It’s just giving them tools. , so they can work on it and get around some of the issues on the pitch while they’re out there, and then get to the sidelines and make adjustments out of it. “
Hackett and Outten have already pointed to restrictive revenue – Outten said “the ball is everything” – but the Broncos’ offensive games have been so pronounced that even seasons with limited revenue have not seen increased production.
After the Broncos led the league with 23 interceptions in 2020 – largely due to quarterback Drew Lock throwing 15 picks – quarterback Teddy Bridgewater pretty much cleared up last season, as the Broncos only had 18 giveaways, which were number six least in NFL. They also had the sixth lowest revenue in 2019, but limiting revenue did not result in an increase in points as they averaged 19.7 points per share. match last season and 17.6 in 2019. They actually scored more points per game. match in 2020 (20.2)) despite their carelessness with football.
Solving the offensive issues is on Hackett’s to-do list, as the new Broncos staff have reviewed meetings this week with general manager George Paton before going to the scouting combination next week.
“First and foremost, any offense you have must be maneuverable and adjustable for the one you have on your team,” Hackett said. “It’s about figuring out what your guys do best and being able to do it over and over again and take advantage of their skills … You want to get the defense to cover the whole field.”