With nearly a third of the NFL's teams under new leadership, NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks has ranked the 10 new head coaches’ situations by how favorable they are in 2022.
"With the bulk of offseason roster reconstruction behind us and NFL teams hitting summer break, I believe this is the perfect time to assess each new coach's environment for the coming season," Brooks wrote. "Who's in the best position to enjoy immediate success? Who's facing the most challenging task in Year 1?"
In that ranking, Brooks places Hackett in the upper tier at No. 4, the highest-ranked first-time head coach.
"He's a well-respected quarterback whisperer who has proven he can help field generals thrive in the pocket (SEE: his work with Blake Bortles in Jacksonville)," Brooks wrote. "And then, less than two months after Hackett's hiring, Denver acquired an established superstar in Russell Wilson, who could be the final piece that allows this loaded Broncos roster to finally reach its potential.
"It might take some time for the offense to click as the coach and quarterback develop chemistry, but the talented playmaker has a knack for making any play call the correct one due to his spectacular improvisational skills. If the defense makes a smooth transition from Vic Fangio to new coordinator Ejiro Evero without regressing as a unit, Denver has the potential to make a worst-to-first leap in the AFC West standings."
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The defense certainly appeared to be playing at that same level in the offseason practices that were open to the media. Pat Surtain II and Justin Simmons have come up with interceptions, and with the consistency that the defensive backs have from extensive playing time together, it stands to reason that the back end of the defense will continue its strong play in 2022.
But as The Athletic’s Nick Kosmider writes in his offseason takeaways, it's the front end of the defense where the group faces the most questions.
"The Broncos have done a good job building depth at pass rusher this offseason — so much so that general manager George Paton might have some difficult decisions to make when it comes time to pen the final roster," Kosmider wrote. "But the prospect of this defense reaching its considerable ceiling still hinges on [Bradley] Chubb being able to transform this offseason of momentum into a big performance in a contract year."