The Denver Broncos started the season with a tough 17-16 loss in Week 1 against the Seattle Seahawks. Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson returned to Seattle for his Broncos debut after being traded from the Seahawks this offseason. Despite a solid performance from Wilson, Denver failed to capitalize on a game that could have been a comfortable win.
Early struggles for the Denver Broncos
The problems started early for Denver as it was evident that the team was not ready for Week 1. A preseason that only consisted of three games meant that starters weren't as prepared as they could be. This led to many issues, including continuously giving Seattle free first downs via a number of penalties.
This lack of preparation also became apparent in the tackling on the defensive side of the ball. There was some sloppy tackling due to how rusty the starters were. This aided the Seahawks across multiple drives, allowing them to score easy points. Despite the problems, Denver stayed in the game. Their defense was bending but not breaking. The responsibility fell to the offense to step up and take control of the game.
Unfortunately, the offense also found themselves being penalized a lot. A number of possible scoring drives were halted due to flags, including a touchdown being called back because of a false start. This was the first time the linemen would have heard Wilson's cadence in a game setting. This is yet another issue that could have been fixed in the preseason. But the rustiness of the team was not what cost Denver the win in the end.
The Denver Broncos' biggest concern
This is when Denver's biggest problem became apparent: their head coach. Newly hired head coach Nathaniel Hackett received much of the blame for the loss.
It became clear that despite not performing as well, running back Melvin Gordon was given a large workload. Running back Javonte Williams was almost demoted to backup, even though he was playing more explosively. Williams is also a more powerful back, which can help in short yardage scenarios. This did not cross Hackett's mind during a red-zone drive where the Broncos were only a few yards from a touchdown.
Gordon was sent in for the run play and he ultimately fumbled the ball, costing the team the touchdown. However, on a rushed third and goal not long afterwards, Williams also fumbled the ball.
Also Checkout:- Broncos Preseason Schedule
This was not the only questionable decision made by Hackett in this game. Denver found themselves with the ball in the final minutes of the game. A field goal or touchdown would give them the lead. Ultimately, it would come down to a fourth-down play. The choice was clear: attempt a 64-yard field goal or put the ball in the hands of your star quarterback Russell Wilson. Hackett decided he did not have faith in Wilson and chose to go for the field goal.
The decision is one that will haunt Hackett in the near future as social media was stunned by the decision.
In the end, this game could have easily been a Broncos victory, but they got in their own way. In a tough division like the AFC West, every win is essential when looking ahead to the playoffs. Denver will now look towards next weekend when they play the Houston Texans on Sunday. If the problems that led to this loss aren't fleshed out by then, they might get surprised twice in quick succession.
Poll : Can the Broncos rebound from this tough start?