Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett brings “sense of enjoyment” to work. Now can he bring wins?



Forget about the Star Wars and pop culture references in his play calls and move away from the rah-rah and hugging for a moment.

At his core, new Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett is about ball. Drawing up run blocks and pass routes. Creating mismatches for his players. Considering all ideas, knee-jerk or otherwise.

“He really doesn’t have a difficult time trying something new, looking beyond what he’s already doing,” said his father, Paul, who coached in college and the NFL for four decades. “He does that much better than his dad did. He’s not afraid to look outside. That really is a great trait.”

It may be the best trait Hackett brings to the Broncos as the club’s fourth coach since 2016, and one tasked with stopping a six-year playoff drought.

Hackett is about the juice, which the Broncos’ organization desperately craves. He is a walking B12 shot whether he’s in the hallways of the facility, in the auditorium addressing his players and staff, or on the practice field insisting he spot the football during the two-minute drill.

Broncos general manager George Paton went with the opposite of Vic Fangio when hiring his replacement. Hackett is 22 years younger than Fangio. He’s more extroverted. He calls the offensive plays as opposed to the defensive plays for Fangio.

Fangio is renowned as one of the NFL’s best defensive minds, but he could never figure out the Broncos’ quarterback situation. Hackett is recognized as one of the league’s bright offensive minds and he has Russell Wilson, acquired less than two months after Hackett first checked out his new office.

Hackett knows the deal, though. He needs to be the figurative compass to lead the Broncos out of a mess years in the making. And it may not be overnight, but the expectations are for significant progress from last year’s 7-10 record. Throughout the journey, he will have fun.

“He’s a different coach, especially (compared to) where I came from,” said defensive lineman D.J. Jones, who joined the Broncos from San Francisco. “I’m not bashing them at all, but it was to-the-book. There wasn’t any shooting (basketballs) during team meetings. He brings a sense of enjoyment.”

The Hackett Experience will only be enjoyable if the Broncos win, starting Monday night in Seattle.

“Total engagement”

Throughout training camp, when days are spent under an unforgiving sun and mornings and evenings are spent in cave-like meeting rooms, Paton noticed something interesting.

“Players, coaches, staff — everyone looks forward to going to meetings and I’ve never seen that anywhere I’ve been,” said Paton, who entered the NFL in 1997. “Usually, it’s head down, especially in the dog days of camp and people are like, ‘Oh, here we go again.’ But people are excited to sit down and see what’s going to happen.”



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