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Broncos Fans on Twitter Counting the Minutes Until Nathaniel Hackett Is Fired

Nathaniel Hackett facing thepress again after yet another Broncos loss, this time to the Carolina Panthers.
Nathaniel Hackett facing thepress again after yet another Broncos loss, this time to the Carolina Panthers. Denver Broncos via YouTube
Just when you thought the Denver Broncos' supremely disappointing season couldn't possibly get worse, it did, by way of a 23-10 loss to the Carolina Panthers on November 27.

Fans on Twitter responded with anger over the continued employment of head coach Nathaniel Hackett, and no wonder. After all, many Broncos loyalists had started treating Hackett like a fired man walking after the previous week's humiliating defeat to the Las Vegas Raiders — and with the prospect of the playoffs now out of the question, attention is turning to a future that doesn't include Hackett.

How long until that glorious day arrives? Pro Football Talk suggests that he's likely to remain on the job until the end of the season — and if that's the case, the frustration in Broncos Country will soon begin registering on the Richter scale.

Most Denver devotees will be unable to read a breakdown of the game without breaking down personally. So suffice it to say that being humbled by the Panthers represented a new low in a campaign full of them. Carolina's quarterback, Sam Darnold, was starting his first contest of the season; he's widely considered to be a mega-bust, and the half-empty stadium was evidence that the squad's local appeal is at subterranean levels. Yet the team was clearly more inspired than the Broncos, who have collectively waved the white flag. At this point, they can only work up any fire when they're turning on each other, as happened when defensive lineman Mike Purcell gave QB Russell Wilson an earful in an exchange captured by TV cameras.

Afterward, both Purcell and Wilson played down the conflict, but no one was fooled. The defense remains strong even after the departure of Bradley Chubb a few weeks back, while no one should be forced to watch what's happening on the other side of the ball. Even if Hackett is no longer calling the plays (Klint Kubiak has taken on that task), his offense is unimaginative and moribund, making it difficult to know if Wilson's sudden ineptitude — he only threw for 142 yards, much of that in garbage time — is a result of the scheme or a severe deterioration of his skills.

Of course, Wilson isn't going anywhere, since he signed a giant contract prior to the start of the regular season. That makes Hackett the designated scapegoat, with general manager George Paton, who engineered the huge deal to bring Wilson to Denver, in the on-deck circle.

The next move belongs to the new Broncos ownership group, led by Walmart heir Rob Walton, daughter Carrie Walton Penner and son-in-law Greg Penner. Will this triumvirate wait to oust Hackett for fear of looking as if they're reacting in a knee-jerk fashion? Or give him the heave-ho immediately, even if it means chaos in the short term? Broncos fans are waiting for the answer with much more interest than they'll have in the contests over the rest of the season.

Continue to count down our picks for the twenty most memorable tweets about the Panthers debacle:

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts

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