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4 moves the Denver Broncos must make after firing Nathaniel Hackett

It’s no surprise that the Denver Broncos fired head coach Nathaniel Hackett following their humiliating 51-14 loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Christmas Day.

Denver lost 11 of its 15 games with Hackett calling the shots despite the presence of future Hall of Fame quarterback Russell Wilson.

Hackett himself was an unmitigated disaster in this role. After throwing three more interceptions against Los Angeles, Wilson doesn’t even look like a starter-caliber quarterback right now.

There’s several moves the Broncos must make this coming offseason in order to even have a chance to break their long playoff drought in 2023. That includes finding a more qualified head coach and potentially even changing the entire front office structure. Here’s a look at four moves the Broncos should make once this lost 2022 season comes to an end.

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Denver Broncos trade first-round pick

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Denver Broncos
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While the Broncos don’t have their first-round pick (currently 3rd overall), they do boast another Day 1 selection after the Bradley Chubb trade with the Miami Dolphins. Said selection is currently slated to be 25th overall.

Whether it’s general manager George Paton (more on him later) or someone else, acquiring more draft capital to create a deeper roster should be in the cards. Remember, Denver yielded two first-round picks, two second-round selections and change to acquire Wilson from the Seattle Seahawks this past March. Moving off this late first-round selection for more capital on Day 2 of the 2023 NFL Draft just makes too much sense.

Related: Denver Broncos standing in Sportsnaut’s NFL power rankings

Broncos fire George Paton

denver broncos fire george paton
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Following the ousting of Hackett, new Broncos co-owner and CEO Greg Penner didn’t necessarily give Paton a ringing endorsement. In fact, Penner noted in Tuesday’s press conference that a new head coach will report directly to him. What could go wrong with that?

Outside of having a micro-manager as CEO, there’s a ton of issues that could be in play here. In short, Paton’s presence in the Broncos’ front office moving forward makes little sense. He pulled off the Wilson blockbuster with the previous hierarchy in place with the Broncos. He has no built-in relationship with either Penner or fellow Broncos owner Rob Walton. The two should bring in someone of their own choosing.

Denver Broncos add top-flight left tackle

denver broncos sign orlando brown jr.
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We saw it during the aforementioned Christmas Day loss to Los Angeles. Denver’s offensive line has been a hot mess all season long. Wilson himself has been sacked 49 times with Broncos quarterbacks going down a combined 57 times in 15 games. That’s just not sustainable.

Injuries have played a role here, too. Left tackle Garett Bolles has seen action in just five games and is currently on injured reserve. Though, it’s not like he’s played a high level over the past few seasons. Denver would save $10 million against the cap if it were to release/trade Bolles this coming offseason.

As for Wilson, there’s no out in his contract until after the 2023 season at the earliest. It’s now time to invest in the Super Bowl quarterback in hopes that he can turn this thing around. A few top-end left tackle options were taken off the market due to extensions recently. This leaves the likes of Orlando Brown Jr. and Isaiah Wynn as the Broncos’ likely targets.

Related: Top Denver Broncos head coach candidates

Denver Broncos bring in Dan Quinn to replace Hackett

denver broncos hire dan quinn
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Quinn interviewed for the Broncos’ opening last winter. The former Atlanta Falcons head coach and current Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator is also going to be another popular option during this cycle. For good reason. Dallas’ defense has been on one since Quinn took over in that role back in 2021.

Dallas Cowboys defense by seasonsPPG AllowedDefensive DVOAYards per Play Allowed
202029.6 (28th)23rd (6%)5.9 (23rd)
202121.1 (7th)2nd (-15.2%)5.5 (21st)
202220.2 (6th)2nd (-14%)5.1 (10th)
Statistics via Pro Football Reference and Football Outsiders

Some will conclude that getting another offensive-minded head coach would make the most sense. While that could be true, creating an elite defense with the building blocks Denver has on that side of the ball should be in the cards.

In this scenario, Quinn brings in an experienced offensive mind to help Wilson and Co. improve. Someone like Dirk Koetter, who served with Quinn in Atlanta, would make sense. It also wouldn’t be a surprise if current Cowboys offensive line coach Joe Philbin followed Quinn to Denver. In addition to being the Miami Dolphins’ head coach from 2012-15, he has a ton of experience calling plays in the NFL.