Denver Broncos need to get Nathaniel Hackett a QB

Jimmy Garoppolo rumors - Denver Broncos GM George Paton with Nathaniel Hackett after announcing him as the club’s head coach at a press conference at UC Health Training Center. Mandatory Credit: John Leyba-USA TODAY Sports
Jimmy Garoppolo rumors - Denver Broncos GM George Paton with Nathaniel Hackett after announcing him as the club’s head coach at a press conference at UC Health Training Center. Mandatory Credit: John Leyba-USA TODAY Sports /

The Denver Broncos have hired former Packers offensive coordinator, Nathaniel Hackett, as their new Head Coach. The Broncos have all the pieces in place except the one Hackett needs to win…and to keep his job.

The Denver Broncos have a history of trading for and drafting quarterbacks that don’t quite fit the bill in a very competitive AFC West division. After the Broncos secured a Super Bowl win in 2015 with veteran Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning, they have not been able to land a quarterback that can take them back to the promised land.

Quarterbacks such as Brock Osweiler, Paxton Lynch, Trevor Siemian, Joe Flacco (post-Baltimore), Case Keenum, Drew Lock, and Teddy Bridgewater have all been given an opportunity to lead the Denver Broncos to success and all have failed. Since 2015 they have had one winning season, 2016 when they went 9-7. Since the Manning era ended collectively the Broncos have yielded a record of 39-58.

Now fast forward to 2022. The Broncos have finished 4th in the AFC West, Head Coach Vic Fangio has been fired, and the current quarterback duo consisting of Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Lock, have an unknown future.

Broncos General Manager George Paton has thankfully taken over for Vice President John Elway in terms of personnel decisions and his first move was replacing the defensive-minded Vic Fangio with the Green Bay Packers former offensive coordinator, Nathaniel Hackett.

While Hackett held his position in Green Bay for a total of three seasons he assisted in constructing a deadly efficient offense that finished with a regular season record of 39-10. Two of those seasons resulted in NFC Championship losses, one game away from reaching the ultimate goal of playing the Super Bowl. The Broncos have not made the playoffs since their Super Bowl run in 2015.

There are two sides to every opinion; one could argue that Hackett was working with one of the best quarterbacks in the game with Aaron Rodgers so of course, it’s easy to win. On the flip side, one could also argue that Hackett utilized Rodgers’ talents in a way that not every offensive coordinator could and improved his play, which is reflected by his back-to-back Most Valuable Player (MVP) awards in 2020 and 2021.

Regardless Hackett is used to winning and dominating his division, which cannot be done with Bridgewater or Lock who finished the season ranked 18th and 47th out of 62 starting quarterbacks. 

Either of those quarterbacks could serve as a suitable backup but if Hackett wants to achieve the same level of excellence GM Paton needs to act now and make a “splash signing” as they say. The quarterback class is not exceptional in this year’s draft but if quarterbacks such as Russell Wilson, Carson Wentz, or even Jameis Winston are available any of them would be an immediate upgrade to Bridgewater or Lock.

And no. It does not appear to be a masterful plan to hire Hackett in order to get Aaron Rodgers to come don an orange uniform. He’s staying in Green Bay.

The Denver Broncos offense is armed with the likes of Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, and Tim Patrick, along with an excellent tight end in Noah Fant. Before Fangio’s departure, he built an excellent defensive unit with the 8th ranked passing defense and 15th ranked rushing defense, both impressive positions.

Hackett’s predecessor Vic Fangio was the Head Coach for the Broncos for the same amount of time that Hackett was with the Packers; three seasons from 2019-2021. Fangio amassed a record of 19-30 with no trips to the playoffs. A crucial piece missing during his tenure was a top 10 quarterback and it ended up costing him his job, among other factors.

If the Denver Broncos want to capitalize on their offensive-minded hire they need to make finding a quarterback in free agency an absolute priority and break their streak of signing mediocre quarterbacks.

Sharing the same division as Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert, and Derek Carr can be unforgiving and if Hackett wants to remain in Denver his front office needs to get to work, and fast.