The Denver Broncos were the worst offense in the league coming into their matchup against the Los Angeles Chargers.

Their 15 points per game were dead-last, as was their red zone scoring percentage (21.4%) while they were 30th in third down conversions (30.4%).

Much has been made about the dumpster fire that has been Nathaniel Hackett’s offense in Denver. Even with Russell Wilson at quarterback; who many jumped on as “washed,” too old to use his legs like he used to.

That’s why it was shocking to see Hackett’s Broncos march down the field against the Chargers defense with ease in the first half. Not only that, but they moved the ball at will by featuring Wilson’s arm.

As for Hackett, he’s certainly looked like a first-year head coach this year, making blunder after mistake in play calls, game management and choosing to go for it or not on 4th downs.

But Hackett finally showed his astute ability as a play caller in the first half of the Broncos – Chargers game, six weeks into his head coaching career.

What the Broncos head coach did was get Russ cooking early with the short passing game.

It’s no secret, nor was it innovative. Play callers usually help their young quarterbacks get into a rhythm and help build their confidence by throwing the ball outside as well as short over the middle.

Those short passes outside are basically indefensible and the ones across the middle are relatively easy to complete, too.

What made it unique for Hackett was he decided to call those quick passes for Wilson, an at least former superstar quarterback, who’s won a Super Bowl and played in two during his career.

On the Broncos first drive of the night, Denver threw the ball five times to four different receivers. Denver did have to settle for a field goal, but they did take the 3-0 lead on the road.

After the defense forced a punt, Hackett and the offense continued to roll against the Chargers. Denver’s head coach called four more short passes, and with Wilson sufficiently warmed up, he finally showed what he can do.

Facing a 3rd and 13, Wilson was rushed, used his legs to keep the play alive and found Jerry Jeudy for a 37-yard catch and run.

On the next play, Hackett dialed up his best call since arriving in Denver. Tight end Greg Dulcich — in his first game as a professional — ran a “scissor route” with KJ Hamler, which confused the defense and left Dulcich wide open. Wilson dropped the ball in beautifully and Dulcich took off for 39 yards to the house.

It was then when Wilson showed some emotion on the field in a Broncos uniform, pumping his fist.

It was then when Broncos Country as a whole breathed a sigh of relief, and Hackett probably did too.

The worst offense in the NFL finally got their act together and looked phenomenal, at least for a drive. And it continued to the end of the half. Wilson hit Hamler for a 47-yard gain and the Broncos even used some hurry-up for the first time this year, scoring a field goal to end the first half.

Denver led 13-10 at halftime, knowing they’d get the ball back.

Unfortunately for Hackett, Wilson and Co. they became a dumpster fire again in the second half.

Denver punted three straight times and then made a field goal thanks to Baron Browning’s crucial interception in Chargers territory. On those three drives for the Broncos, Wilson completed only two passes for a mere 12 yards. All the success and progress the offense seemed to make in the first half wore off at halftime, apparently, as the Broncos regressed to their sorry selves.

But the defense kept the Broncos in the game, forced a field goal and a 16-16 tie. With 3:58 to play, it was in Hackett’s and Wilson’s hands.

Unfortunately, Denver’s offense continued to play awful as they did all second half long.

So, the game ended up going into overtime and Wilson got another chance. And then another.

And they should have had a fourth chance at winning the game, but the special teams made a huge gaffe when P.J. Locke was pushed into Montrell Washington on a punt, giving the ball back to the Chargers. On the punt before that, Hackett’s special teams barely got 11 players on the field.

The muffed punt led to an injured Dustin Hopkins booting home the game-winning, 39-yard field goal. Denver fell to 2-4, with two losses in their division.

Look, progress is not a straight line. There are a lot of ups and downs for teams as they pull themselves out of a six-year hole without making the playoffs.

But after five weeks of awful offense, the Broncos and Wilson looked like they finally found their footing on Monday night against the Chargers. They were hitting on all cylinders and finally clicking on offense while the defense was again electric.

And then Hackett’s Broncos fell flat on their faces, just like they have all year long. Just like the Broncos have for six years. Going on seven.

One way or another, Hackett’s going to have to prove himself over the course of this season. And as crazy as it sounds, Wilson has to prove himself, too. Even if he did already secure the $245 million bag.

The way Hackett can do that is to call more plays like he did in the first quarter. He needs to work to the strengths of Wilson and the rest of his offensive players; dial up short passes and mix in the deep balls. He needs to get a defense on their heels like at the end of the first half and run some hurry-up, and he needs to call more RPOs for Wilson, which worked well when he did call them in LA.

Making the right play calls will set up Wilson and the rest of the offense for success. However, even though Wilson said after the game there is no division in the locker room, seeing Jerry Jeudy complain to “benched” Melvin Gordon on the sidelines was not a positive sign.

It may already be too late already for Hackett to keep the offense afloat, and the defense can’t keep saving the offense forever.

It’s going to be a long season in the Mile High City.