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2022 New Hire NFL Head Coach Analysis #2: Nathaniel Hackett, Denver

July 15, 2022 11:07 AM
July 15, 2022 10:55 AM


2022 New Hire NFL Head Coach Analysis #2: Nathaniel Hackett, Denver


*Same intro as prior coaching analysis reports, skip past this if you wish/if you read on the prior 2022 coaching reports


I need to address two things at the top, and I’ll probably copy and paste this into every intro ahead of the new hire coaching analysis for 2022…


1: Why are your (RC’s) famous coaching studies just now starting (July 2022)? You usually do them in Jan.-Feb.-Mar.?

I used to be excited to jump right on these studies but the longer I research and study the NFL, as it relates to Fantasy Football, the new head coach is not as big a factor as I thought it once was. I do some base research right away, when they are hired, to identify trends/patterns in their (and their staff’s) history on offense especially -- but a full research report, as I have done for years, I am arriving at a belief that it just isn’t as important as player scouting and study, so I put it off until I had the time to work on it…so, he we are.

It's a definite, purposeful lack of priority as to why I’m starting the deeper reports in the summer.


2: Why do I (RC) think the new head coaching hires are not as important as they once were?

After years and years of NFL study and observation, I’ve come to the most simple/obvious conclusion about a new (or any) NFL head coach importance to team wins/performance: Tell me who their quarterback is, and I’ll tell you how ‘good’ a coach they’re gonna be this season/ahead.

All my years of NFL observation, all I see is coaching failure and nonsense from the top (head coach)…out of touch philosophies, fighting with the GM, strange decisions for their starting lineups, and inability to manage a salary cap or construct a roster. Now, they do know how to do the ‘job’ of coaching…they know playbooks, weight rooms, stretching, dumb/cliché filled speeches, dress codes for road trips, practice schedules, blowing a whistle, coach speak press conferences, play calling from the playbook…they know how to perform the job of ‘coach’, but ‘difference makers’? Legends? Geniuses? Name one.

Ask yourself, if head coaches are so smart and such great communicators and understand the game so well…why are ex-quarterbacks getting tens of millions of dollars to analyze the game on TV, and not ex-NFL head coaches? Have you listened to the Bruce Arians, or Jeff Fisher, or Brian Billick, or any of the ex-coaches try and call a game…or even host a pregame show or something like it? Useless. Ex-quarterbacks in the booth are always natural and detailed and understand what they are seeing and can communicate it. Ex-head coaches…well, there’s Rex Ryan as a nonsensical sideshow on a dying media company’s pregame show. Steve Mariucci? Are you kidding me?

We all thought we had Bill Belichick to look up to, but then we saw how he handled the Tom Brady situation and how he wanted rid of Tom, and how he’s fared since Tom (and how Tom has fared without him). Who has been a better coach in the NFL? Bill Belichick or Bruce Arians? Answer = the one possessed Tom Brady, that’s who.

There are better coaches than others, for sure…but it’s more ‘least damaging to things’ is better than ‘very damaging to things’. They do know how to swing a whistle on a string around their finger and bark nonsense while the players stretch out pregame/practice.

In the end, this following statement is going to make you deny it…and then when you think about it, you’ll agree…and then it is sobering (for coaches): the location/geography, the weather, the stadium, the surrounding city, and the tax ramifications of that area/state are more important in attracting and keeping players than ‘head coach’.

A head coach has one main characteristic they MUST possess…don’t piss off the elite quarterback/you must befriend the elite quarterback.

Football fans are always so religious in their faith and defense of and promotion of their team’s new head coach -- it boggles my mind. People believe in a new hire head coach, likely a guy they may have never heard of before they entered the interview cycle/media cycle, with more rigor than church goers believe in God on Sundays. You can have hope in your new head coach for your favorite team, but these coaches are mere mortals, and most doomed-to-fail (and these adoring fans will turn on them within two years of their hire)…and many of these new head coaches were not the first or even third-fourth-fifth choices during the interview process, but when these coaches land on ‘your’ team then the making-them-into-a-god process by the media…and thus the sheep/fans go right along for the ride.



So, what do I think about Nathaniel Hackett’s coaching ability for the Denver Broncos? I dunno…tell me who his QB is.

Who? It’s Russell Wilson? Well, then Hackett is going to be a really good NFL head coach right away.

I could just end this report here, but we’ll dive a little deeper just for fun…and thoroughness…


Actually, I really like what I’ve seen from Nathaniel Hackett so far. Super personable, but not too annoying or trying too hard or full of himself. He’s probably the #1 ranked NFL head coach you’d like to be your neighbor or best friend.

At his intro press conference, he spent a good amount of time genuinely thanking and expressing love for his wife and kids and his parents. Usually, all these head coach hires thank a laundry list of people but especially get-off on discussing all the coaches and players they worked with that helped them get here – Hackett was more passionate about his parents and family. It was sincere and refreshing…and unusual.

Not that he didn’t thank and appreciate his past employers and players…he did, with high passion. You can tell that Hackett loves being a coach, working in football. He seems as happy head coaching as he does coordinating. He’s genuinely happy with his job.

I keep using the word ‘genuine’, not by plan…but me noticing that I have, it makes sense because ‘genuine’ is the word that best describes what I see of Hackett. I really don’t care if he’s calling the plays or what defensive scheme he plans to run – none of that matters in today’s NFL. Head coaching in today’s NFL is about two things…

1) Who is your quarterback?

2) Then, if the answer to #1 has an ‘elite’ QB as the answer – then does your star QB ‘like’ you (the head coach)?

Hackett has always been liked and respected by his QBs throughout his NFL coaching career…and then he had the perfect world in Green Bay the past few years with Aaron Rodgers. Hackett already has a bond with Russell Wilson in Denver.

I’ve looked deeper into two new hire coaches so far, Hackett and Miami’s Mike McDaniels.

McDaniels is a mousey, nerdy, low-key personality with a stooge GM and Tua at QB.

Hackett is a genuine/upbeat/respected personality with one of the best GMs in the NFL (George Paton) and Russ at QB.

You tell me who’s the better coach ahead? Hackett has as good a situation to walk into as any new hire coach has ever had.


Nathaniel Hackett is the son of former NFL coach Paul Hackett. Nathaniel got an opportunity to get into NFL coaching as a grunt/quality control for Jon Gruden back in his Tampa Bay days. Eventually, Hackett connected with Doug Marrone at Syracuse and Hackett coordinated an offensive turnaround there…which helped get Marrone head jobs in the NFL, and he took Hackett with him to Buffalo and then Jacksonville. Once Marrone and staff were run out of Jacksonville, Hackett was grabbed by Green Bay to be their O-C 2019-2021…and Hackett helped get Aaron Rodgers happy and winning MVPs.

I don’t think Hackett is a savant or X/O genius or can scout QBs well out of college (the QBs he’s helped green light at Buffalo and Jacksonville were disasters…Bortles, E.J. Manuel) – but Hackett is smart enough, experienced enough, and connects with the players…and more importantly the QBs…and thus he will be a coaching success, as long as the GM picks the QBs for him – and that’s set up to be a good thing with Denver GM George Paton.

I don't place a lot of value on head coaches…I only try and ferret out if they’ll be a drag on the team/player performance by whatever degree. But I suspect that Hackett is going to be the most impressive/hopeful (to me) new hire head coach of the 2022 lot, by the time I’m done researching all of them -- because Hackett is setup for instant success in Denver with Russell Wilson, so Broncos fans should be excited…excited the new coach isn’t going to get in the way of the star QB, like the pending/developing disaster coach in Seattle was to that same star QB.

What Hackett will do (win total wise) with Russ in Denver 2022 compared to what Pete Carroll will do with Seattle in 2022…will likely be such a glaring contrast that will get Carroll fired after the season or in a ton of pressure to pop him after 2023. And I can’t wait for that to happen…no one deserves it more than young-acting-for-182-years-old Pete Carroll.

Just like Bill Belichick will be tarnished to some degree by running off Tom BradyPete Carroll will get it (from fans and the media) worse for running off Russell Wilson. Old school coaching with defensive mindset guys…it’s a thing of the past. Nathaniel Hackett types…not steeped in X/O mastery or ‘history of the game’ so much as they know they’re job is to support and serve the QB/players and not the other way around.

If that last statement is true, then Nathaniel Hackett is going to be a fine head coach…as long as Russell Wilson is still an elite QB.



What impact will Hackett have on FF performance?

I think the basic premise of Hackett turning things over, essentially, to Russell Wilson means more passing attempts/output/scoring than Wilson has had in the past…and all the WRs/TEs/RBs will prosper from it.

Which WR specifically? Whichever one Russ likes working with best…and I assume that will be Courtland Sutton, because he’s exponentially more gifted than any of the other WRs there. No one really knows at this stage. Those betting it will be Jerry Jeudy are trapped into two years ago bad scouting by the mainstream. But Jeudy is in the best post of his NFL career…he should be OK. You can see where we have these players projected in our Draft Guide valuations/rankings to see the difference we believe is there between them...and all the Broncos WRs.

Will Hackett give into Javonte as full lead? That I don’t know…and is something I’m worried about. Hackett is a people pleaser…and I worry that he will put Melvin Gordon in a little too much for fear Gordon, a veteran, will be mad at him. I truly don’t know if Hackett has the gumption to put his foot down and ride Javonte, not caring what Gordon thinks…that’s a Hackett flaw – I don’t know that he’ll handle dissention well…and that he’ll get caught trying to make too many people happy/not mad, which is a battle for any young leader. If Gordon wasn’t there…then no need to worry. Vocal/whiny Gordon there…he’ll talk his way into touches, I fear. Not a 50-50 split…just more than the 90/10 Javonte lead it should be. 

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About R.C. Fischer

R.C. Fischer is a fantasy football player analyst for Fantasy Football Metrics and College Football Metrics. 

Email rc4metrics@gmail.com

Learn more about RC and the Fantasy Football Metrics system >>