Successful NFL coaches are always aware of the massive impact older veterans can have on a team’s overall development. While the ongoing mission is to constantly seek out younger and cheaper manpower in the salary cap era, having a balanced roster that blends veteran leadership with fresh talent is the ideal.
Denver Broncos rookie head coach Nathaniel Hackett is working both ends of the roster expertly so far, especially now that he has a franchise quarterback now firmly entrenched. Clearly, the addition of Russell Wilson jumps out from the notable offseason signings, but the move to bring back veteran safety Kareem Jackson on a one-year deal was a particularly smart move from Hackett and Co.
Not only does Jackson have plenty of gas left in his 34-year-old tank, but he also forms a formidable duo on the backend with All-Pro S Justin Simmons. Jackson’s partner in crime was chewing the fat with Wilson about how the offseason had been going when he emphasized the range of unique talents No. 22 brings to the table.
Simmons' admiration for Jackson was self-evident, and in particular, he raved about Jackson's selfless desire to pass on his knowledge to younger players, which to his fellow safety makes the former Texans star a personal inspiration.
“Kareem has been an amazing example for me as a player,” Simmons recently explained to Wilson on Broncos TV. “I mean, his attention to detail; he probably talks a little bit more than me out there on the field. But, you know his attention to detail and how he approaches the game, and I mean, the way that he is always looking to coach up a younger guy. But he’s not looking to do it in a setting like where coach is going to see it or a few other players are going to see it. I just happen to be in the right place at the right time.”
In the heat of battle, the ability to make small adjustments and corrections on the fly is vital, with only grizzled veterans like Jackson possessing those types of hard-earned skills. Finding a willing and able field general who doesn’t mind passing on his smarts can often be rare in the modern-day cutthroat NFL.
All too frequently, veteran players covet their jobs more than imparting their wisdom, but K-Jack is a notable and refreshing exception.