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Mile High Morning: What analysts are saying after Denver's hiring of Nathaniel Hackett; Peyton Manning makes a surprise 'SNL' appearance


The Lead

As the Broncos begin a new era under the guidance of Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett, pundits from across the league have also begun to share their careful analysis of the decision.

And while much of that chatter may involve a certain quarterback, we'll focus on the commentary about the person the Broncos hired and why he's so highly regarded across the league.

"He's really smart — that's the first thing, and I'm sure that came across to George Paton and the Broncos' staff in the interview," The MMQB’s Albert Breer told Colin Cowherd. "I think the other thing, of course, is developing quarterbacks and being able to work with different types of quarterbacks. And you remember all the way back in Buffalo, his first OC job in the NFL, under Doug Marrone, he was trying to make it work with EJ Manuel. And then he had to work with Blake Bortles. And so a lot of people talked about, 'Oh, it's Aaron Rodgers and he hasn't called plays.' Well, he did call plays in Jacksonville, he did calls plays in Buffalo.

"He's very innovative and he was able to adapt what he did to work for Aaron Rodgers. And he was able to make it work in those places with a little bit less at the quarterback position. They got to an AFC Championship Game and really were pretty close to getting to the Super Bowl, too, in Jacksonville with Blake Bortles as the quarterback. And then the ability to work with a quarterback, I think the intelligence and then just the overall energy I think he'll bring to the building — those are the three things: intelligence, energy and the quarterback development piece."

That 2017 season with the Jaguars popped up for several other analysts, including ESPN's Jeremy Fowler.

"Hackett impressed Denver in interviews and …] has a sneaky-strong résumé,” [Fowler wrote. "The guy helped Blake Bortles and Jacksonville get to the playoffs! The Broncos felt the need to go offense here after six straight years of bottom-third production on that side of the ball, and Hackett will come with fresh ideas. This is a good job with $38.5 million in cap space and a good overall roster. But yes, there's no QB answer just yet, and that will be key."

Below the Fold

Speaking of analysts, a prominent former Broncos quarterback made a surprise appearance on "Saturday Night Live" to share his thoughts on the action-packed Divisional Round weekend — except he missed the games because he was hooked on a binge-watch of "Emily in Paris." You won't want to miss the video below:

Let's also take a moment here to share some thoughts in memory of former Denver sports reporter Les Shapiro, who passed away on Saturday at the age of 65. During his decades covering the Broncos and other Denver teams, Shapiro was a beloved local reporter and commentator for his intelligence, wit and ability to connect with people.

"Les and I ended up being very good friends," former Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan told The Denver Post’s Patrick Saunders. "Everyone once in a while, he would say, 'Hey can I come over to your house and watch a game? I'd like to know more.' So we would watch football games together. The thing about Les is that he always wanted to learn, about sports in general."

The Unclassifieds

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