On Friday, as the Broncos premiered the second episode of the 2022 season of Behind the Broncos, we moved beyond the coaching search to a look at how Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett is settling into the role.
Be sure to check out the full episode above, but if you want a brief overview, here's a look at some of our favorite moments:
DRAWING UP A FAVORITE PLAY
Following Hackett's hiring in January, he sits down to give us a glimpse of his football mind by drawing up one of his favorite plays: strong right ace, F left, three jet, X shallow cross.
Over the course of drawing up the play and the routes for each receiving option, Hackett details the potential for each route and how the quarterback's options could change based on the coverage the defense calls. The result, he says, is that the X receiver coming across the field or the Z receiver running a post should have a chance to score a touchdown — which now gets new Hackett terminology.
"If it's man coverage," Hackett said, "he's got to be ready to rip that thing to [the X receiver] on the run so he can put it in front of him and he can catch and go score a 'tuggalicious.'"
The tablet technology also allows Hackett to incorporate other media, like GIFs, into his teaching — so how could he resist the chance to add Peyton Manning's classic "Omaha!" call to the diagram?
DRAWING UP A FAVORITE PLAY
From that jumping-off point, Hackett then gives us a short tour through his offensive philosophy and how it's developed over the years:
"From an offensive perspective, you want to have a huge playbook," Hackett said. "You want to have all kinds of different things that you could do, because every team is different. Every single person that you put out on that field does different things. So for me, it's about trying to figure out as fast as we can what those guys do well and then try to find as many different ways to do that over and over again to put those guys in the best position. Moving guys around, utilizing all their different talents is going to be critical. We just have to figure that out as we get into practice."
Part of that growth, of course, includes his father, Paul Hackett, who coached at the college and pro levels for about four decades.
"Looking back at it, there's been a couple people that have been huge influences on me," Hackett said. "One, my father, without a doubt, on how he trained the quarterback, how he talks with the quarterback, how he works with the quarterback, because it's all about that position. When that position is successful, everybody is going to be successful. So I think it's how you train them, and I think it's that West Coast mentality that we talk about: It's how you teach their footwork, how their feet are what guide them through progressions. So I think we're always going to be teaching from that standpoint.
"After growing up in the West Coast, growing up in the different run games that I've done in my past, I think to be able to create that Mike Shanahan-type world is so critical, because it's this outside zone. I remember when I was a kid, watching John Elway throwing to McCaffrey and all those guys down the field with huge plays with the quarterback [where] nobody's around him and he's launching it down the field. So I think being able to understand that has now added a whole other world and dimension kind of combining this West Coast world — dropback quick game — and then meshing in this outside zone play-pass explosive plays down the field. There's been a lot of people, a lot of systems, a lot of different things. Now I have a lot to throw at those players and see what sticks to them."
Denver Broncos Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett visited the Denver Broncos Boys & Girls Club during Random Acts of Kindness Week to make greeting cards with children on Wednesday, February 16, 2022.
'WE'VE GOT TO PLAY SOME KNOCKOUT'
Part of Hackett's acclimation process included a visit to the Denver Broncos Boys & Girls Club, which was much more than just a tour of the facility. He made sure of that, especially when he got to see the gym. Almost immediately, he pulled together the kids on the court for a game of knockout.
On the whole, the visit gives a glimpse of Hackett letting his inner child come out as he got to meet the young club members. He sat with a group of children to help them make kindness cards for Meals on Wheels deliveries to local seniors, and he made sure to bring his drawing skills back out to doodle cartoon birds.
TURNING THE PAGE TO BUILDING THE ROSTER
Then, we enter the final part of the episode where we turn our focus to what will be the core question for the next several episodes of Behind the Broncos: How will General Manager George Paton change the roster over the coming months?
This section reveals a glimpse at Paton's travels over the past six months or so to observe college prospects at games and how the draft process began and where it's at now.
"It starts in the fall," Paton said. "When our scouts are going to colleges and we're going to live games, and so that's when the scouting really starts, in the fall. And then after the season, we get into the all-star games. We get some more answers there at the all-star games. And then we get into our draft meetings, and we just finished our draft meetings, and so we have our initial draft board set. And now we go to the Combine and get some more answers to the test, just another part of the process. So when you go to games, for instance, you get to the game early, you talk to your sources, you talk to coaches. And then just as many times, you can see the players in the competitive environment, whether it be the game, whether it be the Combine where they're competing with other players, running 40s, vertical jumps, the drills. The pro day is another competitive environment. And so they're all different, but it's part of the process."