When Denver Broncos general manager George Paton triggered his first huge organizational overhaul this offseason, it was at first cloaked behind a veil of secrecy. But now that his ambitious appointment of rookie head coach Nathaniel Hackett has had vital time to bed in, it’s emerging that the ex-Packers offensive coordinator is very much the living and breathing embodiment of a player’s coach.
In the past, Broncos Country would have to believe they were in some kind of parallel universe if they saw former HC Vic Fangio hanging out with his starting quarterback at an Ed Sheeran concert, but things have most certainly changed remarkably since Hackett took over. To such an extent that it wasn’t surprising to catch the coach and his quarterback, Russell Wilson, pictured together at Wembley Stadium in London enjoying the world-famous singer’s show.
While it’s all good fun, it does prove a greater point that the new-era Broncos are keen to form close-knit relationships and watch where it takes them. Only last week, Hackett was explaining to Broncos TV how important it is to construct teams that are fused together as a single unit if they are to find success.
“I look back on when I was younger and thinking of all the teams and all the different things that we’ve done off the field, and the best teams that I’ve been on are the ones that are the closest in the locker room," Hackett said. “That has to happen, and if you get that, then you are always going to have a chance because you know there are 17 games in a regular season, it’s a long season, we're all together for a long time. There are going to be good days and there are going to be bad days. It’s about us as a group working things out, getting better, fixing things, and continually being able to get better and better so that we are rolling in December. I think that’s what we are always hunting for, but if we're not a close team, if the guys don’t know each other, if they don’t feel great about the guy next to them, then that’s not good.”
Undoubtedly, Hackett’s overseas bonding exercise with Wilson dovetailed with some promotional appearances ahead of the club's London game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, scheduled for Oct. 30. That said, the opportunity to indulge themselves with some football talk during Sheeran’s frequent slower numbers may well have presented far too good an opportunity to pass up.
Only until Hackett's methodology translates into victories will it receive a wholly positive appraisal, but it’s a massive boost to have veteran players — especially his star player — already buying in.