Perhaps Sean Payton understands Nathaniel Hackett’s plight better now.
When the Broncos opened up a 21-3 lead against Washington on Sunday, it’s safest to say that if the team held an 18-point lead or more, Payton would improve to 73-0, including playoffs. It seemed like a big gamble.
Russell Wilson’s team in Seattle had never extended a lead this big.
Denver’s defense sacked Sam Howell three times, rookie speedsters Marvin Mims Jr. and Jahlil McLaughlin scored their first NFL touchdowns, and second-year speedster Brandon Johnson sacked Wilson’s 3. Caught his second touchdown throw.
When the managers went three-and-out on the next drive, Mims returned a punt 45 yards to Washington’s own 40-yard line with 7:57 left before halftime.
The rout has begun.
But after taking the final timeout with 6 minutes, 46 seconds left in the first half, Wilson coughed up the ball at midfield and the managers recovered.
A comeback was coming.
“We give them the ball up the middle and the flow changes at that point with a fumble,” Payton said. He showed growing frustration with Wilson after the Broncos’ 35-33 loss to Washington.
All the problems that plagued the Broncos Lost to Las Vegas in the opening game Expensive penalties, an ineffective pass rush, poor pass protection, and an offense that suddenly looked like a car stuck in the mud at a Burning Man festival.
Another thing that came back was when the rookie coach was having trouble getting the play calls to Wilson on time, frustrated fans at Empower Field, similar to what they did with Hackett in Week 2 last year, said: The play clock was counting down.
“We had staff arrive late on several drives and took time to break out of the pack. That has to change,” Payton said. “We had to take a timeout in the first half, which we’re not used to. We’ve got to be better. We’ve got to be better. Russ has been sharper and made plays. We have to, and then we have to see how much we have. If we have to put on a wristband, we will.”
A season ago, general manager George Paton responded by pulling Jerry Rosberg out of retirement to help manage Hackett’s games.
After Hackett was fired with a 4-11 record, Rosberg went 1-1 as interim coach before handing over to Payton, but during the summer Hackett held the worst job in NFL history. He famously criticized him for doing so.
“But everyone has a little bit of a stink on their hands. It’s not just Russell (Wilson). It was the (poor) offensive line,” Payton told USA TODAY about the current Jets offensive coordinator. It was that bad. ”
Currently, Payton is off to a worse start than Hackett. Hackett is off to a 2-1 start and has lost 10 of his last 12 games.
The only Broncos head coach to start his tenure with a record worse than 0-2 was Vic Fangio, who dropped his first four games en route to a 7-9 record in 2019. . Mack Speedy dropped his first two matches in 1965, finishing with 4 wins and 10 losses.
Back to Sunday, Wilson fumbled and had one of two turnovers on three touchdown passes.
The Commanders scored 32 of the next 35 points and handed the Broncos consecutive home losses to start a season for the first time in their history.
“We have to be better than that, and that starts with me,” Payton said.
The Broncos signed Jarrett Stidham to a two-year, $10 million contract this offseason, a pretty big deal for a backup.
Stidham turned heads in Las Vegas at the end of last season after the Raiders opted to move Derek Carr.
How patient Payton will be with Wilson could quickly become an open question in Denver if he snowballs to an 0-2 start.
It couldn’t get any easier this Sunday when the Broncos take on the 2-0 Dolphins in Miami.
— with AP