Broncos Fire Nathaniel Hackett, Name Jerry Rosburg Interim HC

4:00pm: The Broncos have gone with senior assistant Jerry Rosburg as their interim HC to close out the season, as ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweets and the team has since confirmed. The veteran coach was hired in September to assist with in-game operations and decisions, including clock management. The 67-year-old’s background is in special teams, including stints with the Browns, Falcons and, for one decade, the Ravens; he will oversee the team’s staff in all three phases.

Pelissero adds that the interim HC role was originally offered to defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero, who has become a prime candidate for a full-time head coaching gig given his performance in 2022 (Twitter link). He has instead decided to remain the DC to close out the campaign, as he heads towards what will likely be a busy offseason filled with interest from Denver and elsewhere.

11:45am: After yet another disastrous performance in front of a national audience, Nathaniel Hackett‘s time in Denver is coming to an end. The first-year head coach has been fired by the Broncos, reports Tom Pelissero of NFL Network (Twitter link). The team has confirmed the decision.

Hackett has become just the fifth coach in league history to have his first season as a bench boss come to an end before the campaign is completed. Denver sits a 4-11 on the year after yesterday’s 51-14 loss to the shorthanded Rams. That qualifies them as one of, if not the largest disappointments in the league considering the expectations surrounding the team heading into the fall.

Hackett was hired with the intention of reviving the Broncos’ offense, a unit which was seen as by far the weak point on an otherwise capable team. That, coupled with the trade for, and extension of, quarterback Russell Wilson, was presumed to put the organization on a path to success on both sides of the ball. Instead, the team ranks dead last in the NFL with an average of just 15.5 points per game. Improvement has generally not been seen even after Hackett ceded play-calling duties to QBs coach Klint Kubiak in November.

As offensive struggles (including several shockingly poor performances by Wilson), injuries and a lack of consistency continued to pile up, expectations grew over the passing weeks that Hackett would be let go at some point. The matter of whether or not he would be fired before the end of the campaign was a matter of debate, but questions on that subject have now been answered. Denver will now join the Panthers and Colts in their search for a long-term replacement.

A statement from team owner Greg Penner reads in part, “We sincerely appreciate Nathaniel’s efforts and wish him and his family all the best in the future. Following extensive conversations with [GM] George [Paton] and our ownership group, we determined a new direction would ultimately be in the best interest of the Broncos… We recognize and appreciate this organization’s championship history, and we understand we have not met that standard.

 “Moving forward, we will carefully evaluate every aspect of our football operations and make whatever changes are necessary to restore this franchise’s winning tradition. I will lead our head coaching search with support from our ownership group and George, whom I have confidence in as our general manager.”

That final sentence is noteworthy, as Paton has drawn sharp criticism this season for his role in the decisions to hire Hackett and acquire Wilson. Conflicting reports have emerged recently regarding whether or not Paton’s tenure would be cut short after only two seasons at the helm in the Mile High City. A public vote of confidence from the team’s new ownership group bodes well for his job security in at least the short-term future.

Nevertheless, Paton and the rest of the Broncos’ front office will be under intense scrutiny in the coming months as they look to undo the damage caused by Hackett’s hiring. Wilson is under contract through 2028 as a result of the mega-extension he signed before making his regular season debut with Denver this fall, so he is tied to the franchise for years to come. That, along with coaching uncertainty for the second straight offseason will leave a significant stain on the 2022 season for the Broncos, the sixth straight in which they have produced a losing record.

Hackett, meanwhile, is unlikely to find himself on the head coaching radar anytime soon. The total inability of the Broncos to find consistency on offense in particular and build any momentum during the season suggests he is best suited as an offensive coordinator, the role he held for eight total years with the Bills, Jaguars and Packers before taking the Denver gig this offseason.

View Comments (77)