No one would be surprised if the Broncos hire Nathaniel Hackett as their next head coach. The #1 reason he has such appeal to long-suffering fans in the Rocky Mountains? Hackett is besties with quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who may want to leave Green Bay.
On the other hand, many of us would be shocked if Denver’s general manager, George Paton, gave the coaching gig to Eric Bieniemy, a running back who carried the CU Buffs to a national title, as well as the owner of a Super Bowl ring as offensive. coordinator for Kansas City, which has defeated the Broncos 13 times in a row.
Put Bieniemy and Hackett’s resumes side by side.
There is no comparison. Advantage, Bieniemy. Big time.
“It disappoints me that someone hasn’t hired him because he’s so good,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said Friday, hoping a league rival will finally recognize Bieniemy’s excellent work and a 52-year-old assistant with ample experience running his own NFL team.
Should we diminish the fact that Bieniemy coaches a unit averaging 28.2 points per game, while Reid sets the plays and Patrick Mahomes throws the football in Kansas City?
Now for the tacky part. There is one undeniable difference between Hackett and Bieniemy.
Hackett was born in 1979 with football privileges, then grew up in the family business and was also introduced to the coaching fraternity through his father, Paul, who ran college programs in Pittsburgh and Southern California when he was not serving as a senior offensive assistant. level with seven NFL clubs.
Yes, there is one more thing worth mentioning. Bieniemy is black. The only man of color currently serving as the head coach in the NFL is Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
We like to think that sport is a great meritocracy. It’s all about the scoreboard, honey. There is no doubt a well-founded truth in that belief, though it is often covered in a heap of thick, gooey hooey. In the NFL, as with many companies, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.
Kyle Shanahan is a great NFL coach. But young Shanny definitely wouldn’t wear that San Francisco 49ers flat-bill cap if he wasn’t born to the Mastermind, blessed by following his father on the sidelines of the Broncos.
The influence of favoritism in professional football is undeniable. If you need proof, may I suggest a well-documented story reported and written by Kalyn Kahler for defector.com.
Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn who, along with young Shanny, took a 28-3 lead in the second half and lost the Super Bowl to Tom Brady when they teamed up in Atlanta, is a betting favorite to face Vic Fangio. replaced as coach of the Broncos.
While Quinn’s energetic personality has certainly given him a defensive look in Big D, he’s also been blessed by Paton’s fame as they were employed by the Miami Dolphins from 2005-06.
In a sport where victory often goes to the front office manager most obsessed with the 24/7 grind of studying the all-32 video, Paton is meticulous. He may also be a bit conservative, as evidenced by his choice of cornerback Pat Surtain II in the 2021 NFL draft rather than taking a gamble on the quarterback by choosing Justin Fields or Mac Jones.
True to the nature of a good scout, Paton has turned this coaching quest into a cattle call, with no fewer than 10 candidates on his interview list. Being thorough is good. However, if Paton truly appreciates leadership over X’s and O’s, he’ll have to rely on his gut rather than being determined by data points in his notebook.
Quinn has destroyed the matrix and stunned Peyton Manning as Seattle’s defensive coordinator during a Denver 43-8 rout in a Super Bowl that Broncos Country would love to forget.
So Quinn is definitely qualified for this gig.
Hackett could serve as bait to lure Rodgers, but that would be a retarded reason to hire him.
There is old luggage in Bieniemy’s closet, as those of us who have known him since he was a dashing student are well aware.
There are also strong reasons to believe that Paton wants to sit down with Bieniemy for football reasons beyond complying with the Rooney rule of dutifully checking all diversity boxes during the interview process.
Paton saw Bieniemy break into the NFL as a running backs coach before the former CU star returned to his alma mater for a crack as college-level offensive coordinator in 2011. There is genuine mutual respect.
Perhaps Quinn and Hackett deserve to be listed as the priceless favorites to become the next coach in Denver.
But if Paton’s mind and eyes aren’t really wide open in his extensive interview process, why go to all this trouble?
We like to believe that the best man is hired for the job.
In the NFL, that lofty ideal often turns out to be nothing more than a charade.