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Broncos settling for punts and field goals more than any other team

Mike Florio and Chris Simms dive into the “fundamental flaws” Russell Wilson made in the Broncos’ OT loss to the Chargers and explore what changes Denver needs to make.

From Nathaniel Hackett’s first game as the Broncos’ head coach, when their last chance at a comeback win ended with a missed 64-yard field goal attempt, he has faced scrutiny about kicking when he should go for it. That scrutiny isn’t going away.

In fact, the Broncos have ended more drives with kicks than any other team: They have attempted 17 field goals (most in the NFL) and punted 33 times (second-most in the NFL) and their combined total of 50 kicks is by far the most of any team in the league this season.

During Monday night’s loss to the Chargers, Hackett punted on one fourth-and-2 when the analytics said to go for it, and later punted on a fourth down from the Chargers’ 39-yard line when analytics said that was the worst possible choice: Either going for it or attempting a field goal would have given the Broncos a better chance of winning than punting.

Coaches don’t have to follow the analytics models on every single decision, but when the signature move of your offseason was acquiring quarterback Russell Wilson, and you’re showing more confidence in your punter and kicker than your franchise quarterback, that’s an alarming situation.

After criticism early in the season about his in-game decision-making, Hackett added an assistant coach to his staff for the express purpose of helping him with those decisions. But nothing much has changed: Hackett, an offensive coach who was hired to build a great offense, is taking his offense off the field on fourth downs more than any other coach.