ENGLEWOOD — Nathaniel Hackett is aware Broncos Country is frustrated with his coaching performance through two games. The rookie head coach isn't deaf — he heard the boos that rained down Sunday afternoon at Mile High.
"I know I can be a lot better," Hackett said Monday, a day after a sloppy win over the Texans. "I just want to make sure that I’m as efficient as I can possibly be and communicate the best way that I can. Up to this point, I haven’t done that."
Hackett's game management has been lackadaisical through two games, dropping a stunner to the Seahawks in Week 1 and struggling to beat a bad Texans team 16-9 on Sunday.
Against Houston, Denver was plagued with 13 penalties and struggled in game management as Broncos fans repeatedly booed the home team in quarterback Russell Wilson's debut at Empower Field at Mile High. The Broncos too often lost the battle against the play clock, and fans countered with a "4... 3... 2... 1" countdown. The worst came when Hackett couldn't decide whether to go for it on fourth and two late in the third quarter. He waited too long, sending out the field goal unit with little time on the play clock, costing the Broncos a delay of game and subsequently moving them out of field goal range.
It's clear Hackett is struggling to juggle the offensive playcalling and head coaching duties.
"There are a lot of things — we have to make sure the communication is clear and concise," Hackett said. "I need to do better at making decisions faster and quicker and getting that information to the quarterback and being on the same page with him. That’s stuff that we talked about this morning, and all the way to this evening. It has to improve."
But Hackett doesn't plan to change his duties going forward. He intends to continue calling the plays for the offense while managing the game.
"I think I’ll continue the play calling. I think that’s been pretty efficient up to this point. We’ve done a good job moving the ball," Hackett said. "I think from the game management standpoint, we just have to tighten that whole thing up. A lot of us — we are all working together for the first time, so we just want to be sure we’re more efficient in that and have the ability to make better decisions and quicker decisions."
Hackett's first year was always going to have speed bumps. That's nothing new for rookie head coaches.
But few expected it to go this poorly this quickly. That's given Hackett a new appreciation for the job he's been given. And he hopes things will get easier as he continues his first season as the man in charge.
"It’s funny looking back at all my time in the past and the conversations that go on," Hackett said. "You always have an opinion and I think it’s interesting when it’s now your opinion or your decision is the one that matters.
"It’s a challenge and it’s something that I embrace, that I love, and I just want to get better."
Injury update: Jeudy, Surtain day-to-day
The Broncos got some welcome good news Monday.
Wide receiver Jerry Jeudy and cornerback Pat Surtain II are "day-to-day" after sustaining injuries Sunday's 16-9 win over the Texans, Hackett said Monday.
"We're crossing our fingers" Jeudy and Surtain will be available for Sunday Night Football against the San Francisco 49ers, Hackett said. Jeudy sustained a ribs injury. Surtain has a shoulder injury.
Hackett added that inside linebacker Josey Jewell (calf) and right tackle Billy Turner (right) are also day-to-day after both missed Sunday's game.
The Broncos (1-1) host the 49ers (1-1) at 6:20 pm Sunday.