With so much pressure to win now and the insatiable desire for instant gratification, it has become a nearly annual exercise to rush to reach an immediate conclusion on a head coach’s ability to do his job.
This season, the heat has centered primarily around Josh McDaniels of the Raiders and Nathaniel Hackett of the Broncos. Every loss or questionable coaching decision has sounded the sirens on social media.
And just as there’s merit to some of the criticism, it’s also important to level the scale by weighing the other side. A degree of patience is almost always necessary, as one-and-done coaches have far more frequently signaled organizational dysfunction and set back teams for years rather than turning into quick fixes under a new regime.
At this point, Raiders owner Mark Davis is willing to tolerate a more deliberate growth process. Davis has given assurances to McDaniels that he’ll return in 2023, according to a team official. The owner committed to a long-term vision when he hired McDaniels and general Dave Ziegler from the Patriots, and that hasn’t changed despite the 3-7 start.
Hackett’s future is more of a mystery because he wasn’t hired by the Broncos’ new ownership group, which took over in August. The Broncos (3-7) have scored the fewest points in the NFL despite Hackett’s experience on that side of the ball, the acquisition of quarterback Russell Wilson and his five-year, $242 million contract. Since the regular season began, Hackett has hired a coach to help with in-game management and relinquished play-calling duties.
It’s unclear how Denver’s ownership will assess Hackett’s performance, because there’s no precedent. No one knows if they’ll feel loyalty to anyone in leadership positions on the football side. It’s also possible the owners will be hesitant to make an impulsive decision and scare off future coaching candidates.
But we’ll find out how they feel soon enough.