Everyone deserves a proper defense in the court of public opinion. And that goes for Nathaniel Hack It too. So I thought it'd be a little fun to play defense attorney and take up for the guy that everyone continues to spit on. Never forget Hack It was a great PMT guest that fit in with the guys like a glove. You could tell his football mind meshed in sympatico with Big Cat and PFT.
OK - that's probably not helping my case.
The indictment from Sean Payton's quote above can best be described by the GOAT criminal defense lawyer that never existed:
Lawyer tactic #1: when all the facts fly in your face, figure out how to point the finger at others. Was Hack It's 2022 performance one of the worst in the history of the NFL? DON'T ANSWER THAT. I'm not here to say it was good. But it wasn't even the worst performance for a rookie head coach!
I present to the court a list of the worst coaching performances of all time defined simply by the difference in preseason expected wins (Over Under) and actual wins.
since 1989 when preseason wins expected data was available on pro-football reference
You'll find the 2022 Broncos at the bottom of this list with the other two stooges of last year. All three won 5.5 games fewer than their Vegas preseason expectation. No one seems to remember the Rams won the fewest games in NFL history the season after winning a Super Bowl. Or that Matt Ryan was taken out to pasture only to be the best option left later on in the season for the Colts.
Anyway - if you think Hack It's first season as an NFL head coach was bad - let's talk about a few other first year's from the list above.
1989 Cowboys (1-15)
Certainly no coach could figure it out when starting his coaching career off 1-15, right? Allow me to introduce you to Jimmy Johnson. That's, two-time Super Bowl winning Jimmy Johnson.
1994 Oilers (2-14)
Who'd have guessed if you put a Fisher in Houston they'd mesh like oil and water? Jeff Fisher's first year was bad but they didn't just give up on him. The Oilers were rewarded by this faith in Fisher with four years of being the statistically most average team of all time.
But in 1999 - the Titans would make the Super Bowl and come one yard away from beating one of the best offenses in the history of the NFL. I get it - they didn't win - but sticking with Fisher after a 2-14 start gave them a chance.
2008 Detroit Lions (0-16)
This one has nothing to do with new coaches or my farce of a case. But I have to shoutout any team expected to win 6.5 games and missing that mark by 6.5.
1990 Cleveland Browns (3-13)
Jim Shofner never had a chance. That's just what happens when your last name is Shofner. If there was such thing as a punchable name - that'd be it. Fired in his only season ever coaching after a 1-6 start before interim head coach Bud Carson failed to do much better at 2-7. Because of their quick trigger, they hired a nobody with zero head coaching experience the following year who they'd never win a Super Bowl with. That guy's name was… Bill Belichick.
Note to self: REDACT this section.
1990 Patriots (1-15)
You'll be zero bit surprised to hear a guy who went 1-15 in his only season as head coach was named Rod Rust. I already bought his football card on eBay for my sports card collection. The Patriots replaced their Rod with a Dick MacPherson the following year who went 6-10 and 2-14 before shriveling up as well. Imagine if they just gave Rod some time to get the rust off? They'd probably never had hired Bill Parcels and as a result never have later wasted their time on…
Note to self: REDACT this section.
2007 Dolphins (1-15)
Cam Cameron joins Rod in the elusive "1-15" career wins club for a head coach. Since then the Dolphins have employed some of the most lackluster names you could imagine in Tony Sparano, Todd Bowles, Joe Philbin, Adam Gase, and Brian Flores before getting quirky with Mike McDaniel.
I think I made my case here. Many worse first year performances and some that ended in success. But as a pretend lawyer with zero law school experience, I can't help but notice the guys with cool sounding names like "Jimmy Johnson" and "Jeff Fisher" were given slack while guys named "Shofner" or "Rod Rust" or "Hackett" were not.
Lawyer tactic #2: If your case still sucks, just threaten to counter sue.