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Hackett drops call-to-play duties, Broncos continue to sputter


Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Davante Adams (17) runs to the end zone past Denver Broncos cornerback Pat Surtain II (2) to score the game-winning touchdown during overtime at a Las Vegas football game. NFL in Denver on Sunday, Nov. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)


To unleash a pulverized offense, Broncos first-year coach Nathaniel Hackett stepped out of the call-to-play role.

His transfer, however, didn’t gain much traction. Same all season.

In his new call-play position, quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator Klint Kubiak couldn’t provide the plan on Sunday to unlock vintage Russell Wilson as the Broncos fell 22-16 in overtime against the Las Vegas Raiders.

Their sixth one-point loss dropped the Broncos to 3-7 and moved them closer to a sixth straight losing season and a seventh year without a playoff spot. It also kept the heat on Hackett.

“I thought it would help us and so I wanted to make sure I had that opportunity to give him that,” Hackett said of giving up his play-calling duties to Kubiak. “We have to keep looking at all the different things that we do.”

The reason for the change was simple: the Broncos entered the game against the Raiders (3-7) with the league’s worst offense, one that squanders a dominant defense that leads the NFL in multiple categories.

At first it looked like Kubiak, who was calling plays from the floor, might just provide the boost needed as the Broncos scored an opening touchdown for the first time under Wilson and took a 10- 0 after two possessions. .

This success did not last. Melvin Gordon fumbled near the goal line just before halftime – his fumble in Las Vegas sparked the Raiders’ 32-23 victory last month – when Maxx Crosby kicked the ball.

The Broncos recovered but Crosby blocked Brandon McManus’ 25-yard field goal try on the final play of the first half.

After the break – and much like the entire season – the Broncos’ offense stagnated. They had four punts sandwiched around two field goals and were shut out in the third quarter for the seventh time this season.

When asked if he thought he was coaching for his job, Hackett said: “No matter what, these things that I can’t control, and I always communicate with everyone, I talk about Show them all the different things going on so they can have all their questions answered, and go from there.

Perhaps the best illustration of how things went was a game right after the 2 minute warning. Leading 16-13, Wilson and the offense faced third-and-10 at the Denver 34. The Raiders were out of timeouts, and Denver could have called a run play to bring the time down to just over a minute. But Wilson rolled right and, with his receiver covered, threw an incompleteness rather than slide and waste more time before the Broncos kicked.

That gave Derek Carr and the Raiders more than enough time to run down the field and tie Daniel Carlson’s 25-yard field goal with 16 seconds left.

In overtime, the Raiders won the coin toss and three games later in the game. A wide-open Davante Adams completed a 35-yard touchdown pass on broken coverage – one of the few egregious errors this dependable defense has made all season.

Raiders first-year coach Josh McDaniels picked up his second win this season against the Broncos, the team that fired him amid a slide in 2010.

“At the end of the day, it sucks,” Broncos left guard Dalton Risner said. “We care a lot about our team and our teammates around us. We missed today.”

As they have all season.

Until this week, Hackett refused to give up his call-to-play duties despite the team’s ineffective offense.

Placing Kubiak in charge was Hackett’s second major decision. In September, he hired longtime NFL assistant coach Jerry Rosburg after his retirement to help him make game-day decisions after multiple communication breakdowns and several operational errors.

Again, Wilson and the offense only had one touchdown on Sunday, on a yard run from Latavius ​​Murray. That gives them 13 this season, including just seven TD shots by Wilson, who cost the Broncos three players, four first-round picks and $165 million in guarantees as part of the five-year extension he signed. before the season.

“We will do everything to turn the tide. That’s all we focus on,” Wilson said. “It’s disappointing. It’s disappointing for all of us. It’s definitely disappointing for me and this team. The only other thing we know is to keep working and understanding that the journey will be worth it long-term.


AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Stapleton contributed to this report.


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This story was originally published November 20, 2022 8:13 p.m.