the Denver Broncos fired first-year head coach Nathaniel Hackett with two games left in the season.
Owner and CEO Greg Penner said he would lead the search for a new coach with the help of general manager George Paton, whom he expressed his confidence in on Monday announcing Hackett’s dismissal.
Firing Hackett with two games left in a lost season allows Penner to immediately begin his search for a replacement.
The Broncos have scheduled a press conference for Tuesday when they are expected to name their interim head coach for games in Kansas City next weekend and at home against the Chargers in Week 18.
The Walton Penner Group bought the Broncos for $4.65 billion last summer, a world record for a professional sports franchise.
On Sunday, the Broncos (4-11) were eliminated by the equally downtrodden Los Angeles Rams 51-14 when Russell Wilson threw three interceptions and was sacked six times. The game featured a sideline argument between backup QB Brett Rypien and guard Dalton Risner, and passer Randy Gregory threw a punch at a Rams player after the game.
In a statement Monday, Penner thanked Hackett for his dedication, but said that “following extensive conversations with George and our ownership group, we have determined that a new direction will ultimately be in the best interests of the Broncos.” This change has been made now out of respect for everyone involved and allows us to immediately begin the search for a new head coach.
Penner said that “going forward, we will carefully evaluate all aspects of our football operations and make the changes necessary to restore this franchise’s winning tradition.”
Hackett replaced Vic Fangio last January but was unable to build a suitable attack on Wilson, who recently turned 34.
Hackett is the third NFL head coach fired during the 2022 season. The Carolina Panthers replaced Matt Rhule with interim head coach Steve Wilks and the Indianapolis Colts fired Frank Reich and replaced him with rookie coach Jeff Saturday .
Many fans believed the Broncos hired Hackett away from the Green Bay Packers, where he was offensive coordinator, to help them land quarterback Aaron Rodgers. But Rodgers decided to re-sign with the Packers, and the Broncos instead traded for Wilson, who was considered still in his prime.
Wilson, however, had a dreadful first season in Denver after the Broncos sent four premium draft picks and three players to Seattle for the nine-time Pro Bowler. Wilson has 12 touchdowns with nine interceptions and 49 sacks in 13 starts and hasn’t been able to get out of a season-long funk.
He’s 3-10 as a starter for Denver and has missed games with a pulled hamstring and concussion.
He’s routinely ignored open receivers underneath to try deep throws and he’s shown a noticeable decline in his ability to evade passers this season.
The Broncos missed the playoffs seven straight seasons and extended their losing-record streak to six.
They will look to snap a 14-game losing streak against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday and beat Patrick Mahomes for the first time in 11 tries.