Broncos QB Russell Wilson ‘devastated’ by HC Nathaniel Hackett’s firing: ‘I wish I could’ve played better for him’

In a buoyant offseason that dissipated into a disastrous regular season, rookie head coach Nathaniel Hackett and prized quarterback addition Russell Wilson were joined at the hip.

Following 11 losses in 15 games, the ill-fated duo is no longer together as Hackett was fired Monday, and Wilson made it clear Wednesday that he was upset by his coach’s dismissal and shoulders some of the blame for not playing at his best.

“I’m gonna lead it off real fast,” Wilson said in a Wednesday news conference before fielding any questions. “Just, I think, first of all, obviously, devastated about coach Hackett because I think he’s an amazing man, amazing teacher, amazing father, just watching him with his kids, and what he’s been able to do and how he’s taught the game for us. This season has been a season we never thought was going to happen the way it did. He was a guy that spent all of his time and all of his effort into us as players, as staff members, everybody, coaches as well. I think he’s an amazing coach, one of the brighter minds I’ve been around.”

A ballyhooed coaching candidate following three seasons as the Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator, Hackett was supposed to lead the Broncos back to the playoffs for the first time since their Super Bowl 50 win. He was paired with Wilson to turn around the Broncos offense after Denver acquired the nine-time Pro Bowl quarterback in a blockbuster trade with the Seattle Seahawks.

Instead, the Broncos sit at 4-11 and Wilson has turned in the worst season of his 11-year career, evidenced by a career-low 12 touchdown passes and a career-worst 82.6 QB rating.

“It’s been a crazy season, tons of injuries, tons of everything else, but the reality is I wish I could’ve played better for him, too,” Wilson said. “I wish I could’ve played at the standard and level that I’ve always played at and know how to play at. So, what I do know is he’s resilient, he’s going to be a tremendous coach like I said, and I love him to death and everybody misses him, for sure.”

Wilson’s latest poor showing saw him throw three interceptions and complete a season-low 54.2% of his passes in a 51-14 loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday that spelled the end of Hackett’s days in Denver.

The offense has struggled in all avenues for the Broncos in 2022 and Hackett’s departure was unsurprising. Wilson, however, was always likely to be staying put no matter the tribulations after he inked a monster long-term contract prior to his first season with the club when back-pats and atta-boys were still all around.

In a Tuesday news conference, Broncos general manager said he believed Wilson was “fixable.” That will be the next new head coach’s top priority — along with Wilson’s.

“I know I can play exceptionally well, I know what I have in me and I know what I can do,” Wilson said. “And also, too, at the end of the day, each moment that you’re out there you want to play your best, I haven’t been able to do that this year so far. We have two games to go, I wanna be able to just go compete at the highest level and try to get us two wins.”

Two games and a pivotal offseason lie ahead for Wilson. Of course, the same cannot be said for the departed Hackett.

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