The Denver Broncos have struggled mightily out of the gate this season under first-year head coach Nathaniel Hackett.
Being a first time head coach is never easy and most have their struggles, but Hackett’s struggles have been dissected time and time again. Having a star quarterback to lead the team in Russell Wilson was supposed to make the transition smoother, but things have gotten off to a slow start.
With the team trying to find its footing, team President and Broncos legend John Elway recently discussed how the organization almost hired Vikings quarterback Kevin O’Connell instead of Nathaniel Hackett.
Here’s what he told the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
“We were really, really impressed with his interview, so it does not surprise me that he’s having good success up there. He was very, very impressive in the interview process, and it was nip and tuck which way we wanted to go. So I was glad to see that he got an opportunity, and I’m glad to see he’s having the success he’s having because he gave a great interview with us.”
— Pioneer Press (@PioneerPress) October 13, 2022
While, Elway isn’t the one who hired Hackett, it was GM George Paton, it shows he had some say-so in the coaching search.
Hackett vs O’Connell A Tale Of Two Stories
With Hackett’s struggles in year one and the daily criticism by the media, O’Connell’s early success has been a bit of a shock. And you can’t help but think that Elway and Co. are having some second guesses about their choice to orchestrate the offense.
Both coaches came from quality offensive systems in Green Bay and Los Angeles, but KOC’s Vikings are 4-1, while Hackett’s Broncos are 2-3. The Vikes are averaging 23 points per game, which is a full touchdown better than the Broncos’ putrid 15 points per game.
Elway even tied O’Connell’s early success back to the offensive scheme that he derived from with the Rams.
Broncos agree to terms with Nathaniel Hackett to be their new head coach. pic.twitter.com/SCw5MaB43T
— NFL (@NFL) January 27, 2022
“I think the system coming out from in L.A., being with the Rams, and what he learned out there, obviously he’s taken that, and I’m sure he’s putting in his own wrinkles to it. But I think he’s grown up under a great base of coaching, especially offensive-minded coaches, to where he’s now taken it up there. Obviously, it’s working for Kirk, that’s the key thing.”
Sounds Like Elway Wanted KOC Over Hackett:
You usually don’t hear team management say things like this, with the negative effect it could possibly have on its current coach. But it’s obvious that Elway wanted O’Connell to be the pick, but Paton chose Hackett.
John Elway on Kevin O'Connell: "We interviewed him last year & we were really really impressed with his interview so it does not surprise me he’s having good success (w/#Vikings) He was very very impressive in the interview process & it was nip and tuck which way we wanted to go"
— Chris Tomasson (@christomasson) October 12, 2022
And while it’s early in both head coaches career, it’s clear that the Pro Football Hall of Famer sees something in O’Connell.