Hackett’s young Broncos coaching staff quickly coming together

Green Bay Packers tight ends coach Justin Outten works with tight ends Jace Sternberger (87) and Evan Baylis (49) during practice at rookie minicamp at the Don Hutson Center on Friday, May 3, 2019 in Ashwaubenon, Wis. Gpg Packers Rookie Camp 050319 Abw413 Syndication: PackersNews

The Denver Broncos hired Nathaniel Hackett as head coach a week ago. Following his energetic press conference, Hackett is quickly building his coaching staff.

“[Hackett] has a unique ability to connect with everyone he touches,” George Paton described when providing insight into why Hackett was the choice. “He has a proven track record of developing younger players, working with quarterbacks, and helping great players become even better, but it was his vision in all three phases of our football team that separated him [from] the rest of the group.”

Hackett was hired to change the culture of the organization. To do so, he is building a staff with a focus on excitement. To execute that vision, Hackett is building a staff who is familiar with a scheme he knows to be successful. Unsurprisingly, it’s a scheme most fans associate with the success of Broncos football.

Hackett’s coaching staff begin to take shape

For a successful transition, Hackett is emphasizing connections to the west coast outside zone made famous by former Broncos Super Bowl winning head coach Mike Shanahan.

“I think the starting point is [the] outside zone,” Hackett stated. “Outside zone on offense is what you want to do, and you want to base that off of play-pass. You want to make the defense cover the entire field. You want to take shots down the field. Let’s all face it, that’s what the people in the stands love—they love those bombs down the field.

To help facilitate that, Hackett hired Justin Outten as offensive coordinator.

Outten is the former Green Bay Packers tight end coach and now is Denver’s OC.

Though Hackett has declared himself the play-caller, the hire of Outten is significant. Outten has just two years of positional coaching experience and a stint as an offensive intern with the Atlanta Falcons on his resume. That said, Outten’s familiarity with the Packers’ version of the outside zone will be important as Hackett’s messages will be consistently taught in practice. The relationship between Hackett and Outten should bring continuity between coordinator and play-caller.

Another interesting hire was former Broncos assistant coach Klint Kubiak returning as the team’s quarterback coach and passing game coordinator.

Kubiak, son of former Broncos Super Bowl-winning head coach Gary Kubiak also brings systematic knowledge of the outside zone concept. Last season Kubiak helped lead the Minnesota Vikings offense score 25.5 points per game and ranked 12th in total yards in the NFL per statmuse.com.

The final piece of the offensive puzzle in motion is the hiring of Butch Barry. Barry (42) will join the Broncos as the team’s offensive line coach. The former assistant line coach for the San Francisco 49ers comes with the experience of Kyle Shanahan’s dynamic outside zone run concepts.

This move essentially spells the end of Mike Munchak’s time in Denver and solidifies the team’s all-in move into a new offensive scheme.

Broncos targeting Rams’ staff to fill defensive and special teams coordinator roles

On defense, Mike Klis of 9News Denver reports Los Angeles Rams defensive back coach Ejiro Evero (41) as the team’s top target for defensive coordinator. Additionally, Rams’ assistant special teams coach Dwayne Stukes (45) is another top target for the team.

Evero has worked with some of the great defensive coordinators of today’s NFL including Vic Fangio and Wade Phillips. Evero has experience in a variety of defensive schemes.

Former Bronco great Aqib Talib had nothing but praise for the team’s top defensive coordinator target.

Of note: The Rams’ special teams unit was great in 2021 and ranked fourth in DVOA according to Football Outsiders.

Broncos staff full of youth rather than experience

What is clear from Hackett’s coaching hires is significant change in experience. The outgoing group of coaches had extensive histories in the NFL, and the incoming staff has much less.

The lack of experience could cause concern for a team that believes they are ready to complete for the postseason. How each coach handles adversity has yet to be seen.

However, youth brings energy. Hackett’s energy is palatable and the staff he is assembly seems to reflect his vision.

From the outside looking in, it appears Hackett has a clear vision for the Broncos. It also seems Hackett’s vision requires a fresh perspective and energetic staff to achieve it.

For example, the tempo of practice itself will be significantly different than years past.

“That’s kind of the atmosphere you want to create so it’s not about just going out there to practice,” Hackett stated when asked about improving the energy at practice. “You’re going out there to compete, play football, and have fun.”

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