ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – At 10:23 a.m. Friday, a private plane – N422FX – landed at Centennial Airport carrying hope and optimism among its cargo.
Nathaniel Hackett walked down the tarmac with his wife and four children in a waiting SUV. His arrival made headlines, with the 42-year-old representing a bowl of caffeine for a Broncos franchise that hasn’t made the playoffs since winning Super Bowl 50.
Hackett, 42, is dynamic, charismatic and energetic. He doesn’t need Red Bull. Life gives him wings. His passion and purpose led him to the Paul Bowlen Memorial Broncos Center auditorium for his introductory press conference as Denver’s new coach, their fourth in seven years.
“To say I’m excited would be a huge understatement. I’m so excited to get to work,” Hackett said. The new coach said the entire Broncos organization has been “incredible” throughout the interview and hiring process.
“Make no mistake, it’s only fun to win football games,” Hackett added.
Denver Broncos introduce Nathaniel Hackett as new head coach
Hackett wowed the Broncos with his two interviews, showing his footballing spirit, his willingness to embrace analytics and his vision for complementary football. First, Hackett needs to apply jumper cables to the Broncos’ offense. Denver has struggled to find the end zone with Siri’s help, failing to average 21 points per game since Peyton Manning retired.
Hackett talked about the “complementary” football he wanted to play in Denver, where offense, defense and special teams all perform to win as a team. Hackett said he would call the plays on offense.
“The starting point is the outer zone,” Hackett said, adding that running play from the outer zone would extend the defense downfield, open up traffic lanes and opportunities for play passes and deep shots that the Broncos lacked. offense in recent years.
That will be mixed with a comeback program under the West Coast center, which Hackett says started with John Elway’s Broncos teams and evolved from there.
The common thread in the Broncos’ struggles has been disappointing quarterback play. Denver has fielded 11 starters since 2016, including running back Phillip Lindsay. Only two have a winning record – Trevor Siemian (13-11) and Brett Rypien (1-0). Part of what made Hackett so appealing was that he developed and worked with quarterbacks across a wide spectrum from Buffalo’s EJ Manuel to Jacksonville’s Blake Bortles and Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers.
What is his plan – to improve the position either through performance or through a high-level replacement?
Hackett was coy about current quarterbacks, saying, “We’re going to talk a long time about everything,” with Paton. Paton, when asked about Rodgers, answered a question about whether Hackett and the Green Bay quarterback were a one-off deal with the line: “Absolutely not.”
Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett talks 1-on-1 with Troy Renck
Hackett said protecting the quarterback with a strong offensive line and running game will be key, and he’ll work with them, getting whoever is under center for the Broncos next year to a good level of comfort. and to develop a “can’t-stop mentality.
“It’s one of the toughest positions in all of football,” Hackett said.
Under league rules, the Broncos can’t talk about acquiring Rodgers because he remains under contract with the Packers. However, Hackett was able to explain what it was like training him. Rodgers said no coach has brought more joy to meetings than Hackett with his ability to incorporate pop culture movies and music. Rodgers, in fact, called teams and recommended Hackett for head coaching positions.
“Aaron was absolutely amazing. He’s one of my biggest supporters and I love him,” Hackett said.
He said he learned from Rodgers that he would need every question answered because he asked about everything they were doing offensively in Green Bay.
“I think it made me understand how to communicate and talk to everyone, and understand that you always have to know why,” he said.
As for his coaches, Hackett is expected to seek permission to speak with Rams secondary coach Ejiro Evero, his former college teammate at University of California Davis, for the defensive coordinator position. Evero learned defending from former coach Vic Fangio under Fangio and others. Adam Stenavich, the Packers offensive line coach, is a likely target for the offensive coordinator job unless Green Bay blocks him by promoting him. Hackett plans to continue calling games.
Hackett has been described as a renaissance man. He thought he was going to be a doctor and turned to training at university. He has taught hip-hop dance classes and is an avid music listener. He comes across as fun, quick-witted, a nice lift for a franchise that seemed devoid of personality for the past three seasons.
“My favorite thing is when the players become the system”
Whether it’s naming conventions (including Star Wars and *NSYNC references) or offensive schemes, #Broncos Head coach Nathaniel Hackett wants his team to be player-centric #Denver7 pic.twitter.com/j9dXTaWEqD
—Nick Rothschild (@nick_rothschild) January 28, 2022
He said he would bring the music back to practice – chosen by the players.
“It’s guys’ music. It’s about feeling that rhythm, having fun. It’s the behavior of the coaches, the way we handle things. If somebody makes a big play, we want to be excited,” Hackett said. “He goes there to compete and have fun.”
“As a coach you have to have this excitement, this energy to find a way to approach [players] and motivate them to learn, and approach them that way every day,” he added.
When asked which Star Wars character he compared himself to, he said Han Solo.
“I felt he was always slick, cool. He got the beautiful princess,” Hackett said with a laugh.
Everything went well the first day. They usually do. Hackett made a strong impression with employees, starting with a 2 p.m. Zoom call, and the media. He won the press conference.
Now comes the hardest part. Winning games.