The biggest criticism of the Denver Broncos' new coaching staff is its relative lack of experience. Head coach Nathaniel Hackett is a first-timer in 2022, with both offensive and defensive coordinator, Justin Outten and Ejiro Evero, respectively, taking the reins of their own units for the very first time.
Even special teams coordinator Dwayne Stukes is a first-timer in the position. While this young group's inexperience may set off alarm bells in media circles, Broncos Country seems to be happy with what it sees as being a much-needed infusion of youthful energy and new ideas.
So, when Hackett sat down with 9NEWS' Mike Klis at the NFL Scouting Combine, the head coach set a valuable precedent for success that dates back to his time spent with the Green Bay Packers.
"I looked back at my experience in Green Bay," Hackett told Klis. "At Green Bay it was unbelievable. We had a first-time quarterbacks coach, first-time wide receivers coach, first-time O-line coach, first-time tight end coach and first-time head coach."
By constructing this coaching staff with the same vision, Hackett's team is unrestrained by traditional teaching methods. He's looking for his subordinates to draw on all the pieces of knowledge they've picked up along the way.
Out of this new coaching staff, Hackett wants a collaborative vibe to predominate within the Broncos, one where imparting knowledge is the bedrock cementing the entire process.
“Looking at it from that standpoint after working with people that had a lot of experience all over the NFL, just how we bonded, how we all worked and the appreciation everybody had for the jobs,” Hackett said. “I thought that was important to create. A bunch of guys that are going to work together, be humble. Think about what’s right for the Denver Broncos, not necessarily about what they’ve done. I think it was about guys being great teachers.”
Such an advanced level of blue-sky thinking is certainly refreshing and innovative in essence, but the NFL has a nasty habit of forcing brutal reality upon such idealistic visionaries. It will inevitably boil down to having the fortitude to take the controls and steer the ship through the notoriously choppy waters of a 17-game regular-season campaign.
That said, even if faced with the likes of a three-game losing skid, Hackett remains confident his staff has the backbone required to face down such tough assignments. That is, if he can provide the vital core leadership throughout.
“Same way,” Hackett responded to questioning about handling losing streaks. “That hasn’t happened a lot. But, hey, this is football. And there’s going to be adversity. In the end it’s the person that you are and you don’t change, and they feel that strength.”
If Broncos Country rightly questioned the previous coaching regime's thirst for the fight, fans certainly can rest assured that Hackett's new faces won’t be afraid to jump down into the trenches and slug it out when the going gets tough.
One thing that significantly helped mitigate the inexperience of Packers' coaching staff under Matt LaFleur was the presence of a future Hall-of-Fame quarterback, and back-to-back MVP, in Aaron Rodgers. Possessing such a prized franchise cornerstone will cover a lot of flaws for any coaching staff — just ask Mike McCarthy.
Hackett's staff is concerningly short of such a proven quarterback commodity. Heck, even Mike Shanahan — who was also 42 years old like Hacket when he accepted the head-coaching gig in Denver back in 1995 — had John Elway to hang his hat on.
Until and unless the Broncos can land a dynamic franchise QB, Hackett's forward-thinking vision will have to serve as the tide that, hopefully, raises all ships in Denver. That'll be the true test of Hackett's mettle, if it indeed comes to that.
Hackett's boss, GM George Paton, is confident in his first head-coaching hire's wherewithal to navigate such storms and isn't worried about the relative inexperience of the Broncos' new staff because of the collective's confidence.
"No, I’m not," Paton told Klis. "These guys are really confident. I sat in some of the (assistant coach) interviews with him [Hackett] and to hear him talk about our team and free agency. … You’ve got to start somewhere. The main thing is they’re all on the same page. I keep talking about synergy but it’s really good with this staff. These guys get there early, they work out together. They love being around each other. I think that translates to the field with the players when they know the coaches are all on the same page."
Follow Keith on Twitter @KeithC_NFL.
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