Nathaniel Hackett’s coaching blunders and missteps have been widely documented.

Not just in Denver — where the Denver Broncos are tied into the culture of the city — but across the country. National analysts are taking a look at the Broncos offense, which is 31st in points per game (15.0), and wondering why they’re so awful with Russell Wilson at quarterback.

The answer is: It’s not cut and dry.

Wilson has been focused on as the problem. Of course, as the quarterback, the spotlight is brighter on him especially on a new team and with a new, $245 million contract. And the truth is, Wilson hasn’t been great, but he hasn’t been awful either.

Just not good enough.

Neither has his receivers, who lead the league in drops with 13.

Nor has the offensive line been good enough in either the pass blocking or run blocking games. Wilson’s been pressured 60 times and sacked 16, which is sixth-most.

But atop the list of who is responsible for the Broncos woes is Hackett. He is the head coach after all.

It’s not just that he’s the head coach, he’s also the play caller on the offensive side and that unit is struggling mightily. Meanwhile, the defense is playing lights-out even with a new staff on that side of the ball and a handful of starters out injured.

The question is, where do we start with Hackett’s mistakes?

Denver’s red zone scoring percentage (21.4%) is worst in the NFL. He’s called fade routes on the 1 yard line, and other throws too instead of just pounding the ball in with a running back.

Last Thursday, with the game on the line in overtime, the Broncos faced a 4th and 1 from the Indianapolis 5 yard line. Unfortunately, the Broncos came out in a shotgun formation, telling the defense they were going to throw it, which they did unsuccessfully.

Hackett should have either: 1. Run the ball or 2. Call a play with Wilson rolling out, allowing him to gain the one yard or possibly throw for a score.

Play calling has been one of the biggest issues for Hackett.

But arguably the bigger issue has been his decisions to go for it or punt/kick field goals on fourth downs.

Ben Baldwin, known as the Computer Cowboy on Twitter, created an algorithm which calculates when teams should go for it and when they should punt/kick field goals. And according to him, Hackett isn’t going for it enough on 4th downs.

Per this tweet, the Broncos are 20th when it comes to going for it when they should, at around 25% of the time.

A look at which teams go for it on 4th down when they should. Credit: Ben Baldwin.

A look at which teams go for it on 4th down when they should. Credit: Ben Baldwin.

Notice, arguably the best team in football, the Buffalo Bills, get it right the most often on 4th downs.

But it’s not just that Hackett doesn’t go for it when he should, he’s actually lost a lot of win probability by not going for it on 4th down, and either punting or kicking field goals instead.

Win probability lost. Credit: Ben Baldwin.

Win probability lost. Credit: Ben Baldwin.

Unsurprisingly, the Broncos lead the league in this category.

Simply, Hackett’s been too conservative on his decisions to go for it on 4th down and instead kick field goals or punt.

That was blatantly obvious when Denver played the Houston Texans in Week 2. Down 6-3 before halftime and facing a 4th and 1 from the one yard line, Hackett chose to kick the field goal. Baldwin’s 4th down bot said the Broncos should strongly go for it, but they kicked instead to tie the game up 6-6. Going for it would have increased the Broncos win probability by 5.9 points.

Now, Hackett did bring in Jerry Rosburg to help with game management decisions — like challenging plays, going for it on 4th downs and clock management — but that hasn’t proven to pay off quite yet.

At 2-3, the Broncos are currently third in the AFC West behind the Chiefs and Chargers and ahead of the Raiders.

Denver’s season isn’t over, they can still improve and win some games going forward. But the unfortunate reality is they had the third-easiest schedule to this point in the year, and have the toughest schedule from Week 6 through Week 17.

This week, Hackett and the Broncos play in LA against the Chargers on Monday Night Football. That game kicks off on Oct. 17 at 6:15 p.m. MT on ESPN and locally on Denver Channel 7.

Ironically, Chargers head coach Brandon Staley was known for being aggressive on 4th downs last year, but he’s been less so this season.

This one may end up coming down to which coach makes the right call on 4th down at some point in the game. That is, if the Broncos can keep it close with their division rival.