On Monday the Denver Broncos decided to part ways with first-year head coach Nathaniel Hackett following an ugly 51-14 road loss to the Los Angeles Rams.
The loss, which sent the Broncos to an underwhelming and disappointing 4-11 record, was marred by sideline blowups between players and even postgame punching match between a Broncos and Rams player.
While the news of Hackett’s firing came as sort of a surprise, and more because of the timing, many felt he’d be let go at season’s end. The Broncos brass decided they couldn’t wait any longer to pull the plug on the failed experiment. But former Green Bay Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings says it wasn’t all on Hackett, and star quarterback Russell Wilson should take the bulk of the blame for the team’s failures.
“Russell Wilson needs to get up to a podium and apologize,” Jennings said on the “First Things First” on Fox Sports. “Although Nathaniel Hackett has brought a lot of this on himself, Russell Wilson, oh my god, you literally got someone fired. … Wilson owes a lot of people in that organization and locker room.”
Broncos part ways with HC Nathaniel Hackett. pic.twitter.com/lw9y70rBxe
— NFL (@NFL) December 26, 2022
Wilson Has Been Bad All Season
Under the Hackett/Wilson combo, the Broncos averaged just 15.5 points per game. Wilson has also been sacked a league-high 49 times, which is just two shy of the career high 51 times he was taken down in 2018. Hackett and Wilson both share plenty of blame as to why things went awry so fast.
First for Hackett, who in the summer made us believe he was catering his offense to fit Wilson’s strengths. It never looked like it, instead it looked like the same offense he ran with Aaron Rodgers as the offensive coordinator of the Packers. While, Wilson can do some of the things Rodgers does, his strengths are not those.
As for Wilson, let’s face it, he’s lost a step, and it’s showed all season. Gone are the days of “whodini,” avoiding sacks and making off-schedule plays at will. While he’s able to make the occasional play of that sort, it’s now few and far between with how often it happens.
In fact, on Wednesday Wilson told reporters he wished he’d played better for his former coach.
“The reality is I wish I could have played better for him, too. I wish I could have played at the standard, the level that I’ve always played at, know how to play at.”
That wasn’t really an apology, but it’s probably the closest you’ll get to one.
Wilson has a paltry 12 touchdown passes and nine interceptions. And he’s barely over the 3,000-yard passing plateau as well this season. Not exactly the numbers Broncos brass, teammates and fans expected when they mortgaged their future for him, and then signed him to a $240M extension, with $160M in guaranteed money.
— Mike Klis (@mikeklis) December 28, 2022
Broncos Are Tied To Wilson Long-Term
After Wilson’s play this season no one is taking him off the Broncos’ hands. So, in essence he’s their signal-caller for the foreseeable future. With a contract like Wilson’s, someone like former Saints coach Sean Payton may not wanna come anywhere near the Broncos if rumors are true about him looking to return to the NFL next season.
I’m realizing that Pete Carrol always knew something about Russell Wilson that no one else did…
— Emmanuel Acho (@EmmanuelAcho) December 27, 2022
This season also means Wilson can’t play much worse than he has, but he’ll need to prove it to his coaches and teammates. Because as of now he’s a shell of himself who seems to still be living off what he accomplished in Seattle over ten very successful seasons.