Skip to main content

Broncos' RB Javonte Williams on Nathaniel Hackett's New Offense: 'He's Always Talking About Confusion'

Javonte Williams dropped the curtain on the complex nature of the Broncos' new offensive scheme.

Color Javonte Williams impressed. 

With the Denver Broncos installing a new offensive system under first-year head coach Nathaniel Hackett, the second-year running back is in learning mode, trying to soak in and assimilate the playbook. Denver's second-round pick a year ago out of North Carolina, Williams is now learning a new offense in consecutive years, and based on his experience thus far, he's bullish on the deceptive tactics Hackett is instilling in his new charges. 

"Every meeting we have, he's always talking about confusion," Williams said of Hackett on Thursday. "He wants everything to look the same so the defense don't know when a different play is coming... So I feel like this is probably the most complex offense I've been in but I really feel like it's going to be the best because you never know what's coming at you." 

A more complex offense than, say, ex-Broncos' offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur? Williams got a little uncomfortable when pressed to answer how much more complicated Hackett's scheme is. 

"Um... I mean, it's—I don't know," Williams groped. "There's just a lot more on the running back this year. We've got to learn concepts. We're pretty much running backs and wide receivers this year." 

What happens next on the Broncos? Don't miss out on any news and analysis! Please take a second, sign up for our free newsletter, and get breaking Broncos news delivered to your inbox daily!

Despite his relative inexperience, Williams is no dummy. He's savvy and smart enough to realize that he came perilously close to giving the media some offseason headline fodder by hinting that the Broncos' new scheme is in some qualitative way better than the old one. 

Kudos to the kid for pumping the brakes when he realized how close he got to the precipice. But let's examine what he said about Hackett's focus on "confusion" and the new expectations on the running backs. 

One big drawback to Shurmur's tenure as OC was just how predictable and transparent his scheme was to opponents on gameday. It was easy to foresee pre-snap what the Broncos were going to do.

Based out of 11 personnel (1 RB, 1 TE, 3 WR), Shurmur's offense ran a lot of shotgun formations, which makes it much easier on the defense to deduce what type of play is coming. Hackett will run plenty of 11 personnel, but it'll be mixed in with a healthy dose of 12 personnel (1 RB, 2 TE) and some two-back sets that include a fullback. 

Out of those sets, you'll see quarterback Russell Wilson operating from under center instead of in the gun so often. That forces the defense to respect the possibility of the play being a hand-off and gives the play-caller a versatile list of options with which to attack the opponent. 

Scroll to Continue

Read More

Combine that with pre-snap disguises, motions, play-action fakes, and more, and it puts a lot on the shoulders of the young guys learning the scheme and making a big jump from a rather basic and pedestrian offense of yesteryear. 

Williams also let slip how much more involved the Broncos' running backs will be in the passing game. They're basically being cross-trained as wideouts which portends strongly of a lot of passes to the running backs. 

Sprinkled into that offensive milieu is a new tip of the spear — the wide zone rushing attack — and Williams is poised to take a quantum leap forward in Year 2 with the Broncos. He doesn't view the wide zone as anything new or too demanding. 

"We ran a lot of outside zone last year, too," Williams said. "It's really just get the ball and run to the open hole. People try to complicate it and make it more than what it is but it's really just the same." 

As wideout Courtland Sutton said on Wednesday, Denver's new offense is going to look much closer to 2019's unit under Rich Scangarello than that of Shumur's version circa 2020-21. Scangarello springs off the Kyle Shanahan coaching tree and loved running zone with heavy two-tight end sets. 

Time will tell how much of a bell-cow the Broncos opt to make Williams but with the re-signing of Melvin Gordon, who's been a no-show at this voluntary minicamp, it's hard to say how much the veteran will be eating out of the young kid's bowl. As much as Hackett believes in the running-back-by-committee approach, it's probably safe to assume that the Broncos will be splitting touches quite democratically this year. 

Denver's previous regime did a fine job of splitting touches between Gordon and Williams last year, nearly finishing 50/50, but with so little wear-and-tear on the second-year back's tires, it would behoove the Broncos to feed the former Tarheel and let him run wild and truck over defenders. 

Williams finished his rookie campaign with 203 carries for 903 rushing yards (4.4 avg.) and four touchdowns while catching 43 passes (on 53 targets) for 316 yards and three scores. With 1,200-plus yards from scrimmage as a rookie, imagine what's in store for Williams in this new scheme that's going to look a lot like the old Mike Shanahan system in Denver that cranked out 1,000-yard rushers year in and year out. 


Follow Chad on Twitter @ChadNJensen.

Follow Mile High Huddle on Twitter and Facebook.

Subscribe to Mile High Huddle on YouTube for daily Broncos live-stream podcasts!