Nathaniel Hackett Fired: Don’t Take the Bait

Frank ReichJim CaldwellNathaniel HackettSean Payton

Whether they are willing to admit it, the Denver Broncos hired Nathaniel Hackett as bait. They shook his hand while looking over his shoulder at quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the MVP who could etch his name in Rocky Mountain royalty. 

Rodgers didn’t come to Denver. Hackett did. Russell Wilson did, too. The combination lasted all of 16 regular season weeks.

With two weeks to play, Denver is 4-11. Their offensive production never made it up the mountain. You’ve seen the stats. You’ve also seen Wilson’s corny antics, Hackett’s misguided attempts at being a player’s coach, and a locker room that has all but disintegrated.

His tenure was filled with more than unfortunate losses and unproductive offenses. Time and time again, Hackett failed to carry the one in his arithmetic. Time management gaffes and increasingly questionable late-game decisions prompted Denver to bring in an assistant, Jerry Rosburg, solely to deal with the passage of time on its way to another Broncos loss.

Rosburg will coach Denver the rest of the way.

Will Sean Payton replace Nathaniel Hackett?

Make no mistake, the hottest name on the coaching carousel is former New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton. He’ll be atop most candidate lists for every opening this winter, and for good reason. He’s got championship pedigree and helped develop and maintain Drew Brees’ passing offense.

According to BetOnline, Payton is the favorite to coach the 2023 Broncos, at +400. This means a $100 bet would make $400 in profit if it were to hit.

Please, don’t take the bait. It’s not impossible, but Payton in Mile High is as likely as Denver not regretting the Wilson trade. 😔

Primarily, the Saints still own Payton’s rights, and will likely require legitimate draft capital to cut him loose. Thus, the Broncos become an even less attractive destination. Getting ownership to sign off on a pick-for-professor trade isn’t particularly likely, either.

Further, who in their right mind is going to coach this team? They flat out stink, facing future coaches and front offices with two options: continuing trotting Wilson out there or cutting him and facing unprecedented levels of dead cap. Cutting Wilson likely means cutting some really good players, only adding to the depth of this rebuild. 💩

Let’s assume this season has not been a mirage. The signs were there, the Broncos missed them, and they are stuck with an expensive, bad quarterback. Does Payton want to waste his final coaching stop on the pipe dream that he can fix a broken passer entering his age-35 season? Will he be looked at with the same admiration when the losing seasons pile up?

Also, Payton is rumored to want Vic Fangio to headline his defensive staff. Hackett’s predecessor, Fangio wouldn’t exactly be welcomed back with open arms. 😬

And if that wasn’t enough, even the best case scenario in Denver means you are competing with Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert for a decade. Good luck.

There are so many reasons for this relationship to end well before it starts. It simply is not a smart bet to make.

Who will coach the Denver Broncos?

It’s no surprise Denver will at least take a look at Payton. He’s everything Hackett isn’t: experienced, proven, and effective.

The Broncos took a risk in hiring Hackett, a coach who had never held the highest position before and didn’t have all that impressive of a track record. Bettors should expect them to overcompensate with this next hire.

Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn has head coaching experience (going to a Super Bowl with the Atlanta Falcons) and led the defense that took Wilson to a Super Bowl a decade ago. Pulling him from a lucrative Dallas job will be difficult, but makes sense given their mutual interest last offseason. His odds currently sit at +500.

Another option is former Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich. Reich was foolishly scapegoated in his former stomping grounds just a few weeks ago. He won a Super Bowl with the Philadelphia Eagles, playing an integral part in their offensive design that helped. Will he want to coach yet another sorry quarterback? I don’t know. But if job security is promised, and Reich eventually gets to pick his own passer, there’s a match to be made. He has the 7th-shortest odds at +900.

Currently, my favorite candidate for the job is former Detroit Lions and Colts head coach Jim Caldwell. Though he has not held an official coaching position since 2019, where he was the quarterback coach of the Miami Dolphins, there is no doubting his resume. Head coaching experience at Wake Forest and the NFL. Stops at offensive coordinator and quarterback coach. Two Super Bowl rings (one as an assistant and one as an OC). A career 62-50 record.

Caldwell is more than experienced. He has led exceptional offenses and even brought the Lions to the playoffs, a near impossible feat 😂. If there’s anyone that can help build an organization up from the ashes, it’s Caldwell. BetOnline lists him at +600, the 3rd-shortest odds for the job.

BASIC TIPS

While your favorite sportsbooks may not list these odds just yet, when they do, they’ll be filed under futures bets. These are wagers on events in the more distant future than Sunday’s game. Oftentimes, these are placed on whether a team will make the playoffs, win the Super Bowl, or surpass a certain amount of wins. On an individual basis, statistical leaders, season awards, and season-long props would be considered futures. Make sure you place your futures selection before the line gets shorter and you miss out on potential profit, but be wary of betting without enough information.