Two of the NFL's top coaches are rallying around embattled Denver Broncos head man/offensive play-caller Nathaniel Hackett, whose rookie foibles have spawned relentless national mockery.
Hackett's sympathizers include his upcoming opponent, 49ers HC Kyle Shanahan.
“It’s not always about getting the play in. You need receiver substitutions, you need the quarterback getting to the line. There’s so many things that go into it," Shanahan said Wednesday of his own experiences, via 9News' Mike Klis. "You’re always responsible for it but it takes a whole team to do that the right way and early on it is a little bit harder especially when you’re playing with a bunch of new players. So it takes time to do.
"I mean I remember my first game, I went for it four times. And they were ones I should not have gone for and I’d never done that before. And that’s when I realized, you can’t think like the coordinators. Those are all experiences you go (more) through for the first time but he’s done this for a while and you guys have a good coach there and very good offensive play caller."
Hackett, 42, has been an NFL assistant since 2009 and an offensive coordinator since 2013 (save for a 2015-16 stint as quarterbacks coach). Naturally, the son of longtime coach Paul Hackett is well versed with the fundamentals of football — the same fundamentals that escaped him throughout Denver's first two regular-season games.
The 4th-and-5 fiasco. Time management, or lack thereof. Mind-numbing red zone failures. Galaxy-brained trickeration. A smorgasbord of drive-killing penalties. And so on. And so on.
Nobody ever said the gig would be easy. But nobody thought Hackett would make it this difficult, either.
"He'll figure it out, no doubt about it," Packers HC Matt LaFleur said Wednesday, per beat reporter Ryan Wood. "So everybody needs to stop hitting that panic button down there."
The panic button will stop being hit when the self-destruct button isn't simultaneously pressed. After a half-decade of absolute futility, Broncos Country has zero patience for on-the-job training, especially with a quarter-billion-dollar quarterback under center.
To his credit, however, Hackett is exhausting every available resource in order to minimize his learning curve — and quickly.
“That's something that we really jumped into and wanted to make sure that we can get better at that," he said Wednesday. "That starts with me, and I'm doing every single thing I can to try to put myself in a position to be able to make quicker, faster [and] more efficient decisions. [General Manager] George [Paton], ‘Moug’ (Assistant General Manager Darren Mougey), all those guys have been absolutely spectacular in helping me through that process because that is something that is new for me. I think we're going to have some good answers as we move forward.”
The answers better come, because the criticism will only grow louder, and those voices of support that much quieter.
Follow Zack on Twitter @KelbermanNFL
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