DENVER — The Broncos have hired Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett to be the team’s next head coach, with the hope that he’ll be a boon to an offense that ranked 19th in yards and 23rd in scoring in 2021.
The pulse from NFL pundits – including the Denver7 sports team – is that it was the right hire. That the 42-year-old Hackett will bring a fresh perspective (and a higher number in the win column) to Denver.
The Broncos must feel the same. They were, after all, the first organization to make a move in the annual coaching carousel.
But what about the opinion of the players, and specifically the members of that offense that so desperately needs a breath of fresh air?
Well, if you ask left guard Dalton Risner, there isn’t much of an opinion just yet. But he likes the move because of his faith in the Broncos’ front office.
“The truth is, I don't know anything about Nathaniel Hackett,” he told Denver7 Broncos Insider Troy Renck on FaceTime from a snowy perch in the Colorado mountains. “I know he's an (offensive coordinator) for the Packers. And he's a great offensive mind. I'm excited about that. ... But I do take a lot of value [in the fact that] I'm not a [general manager]. I'm not a head coach. But I like George Paton.”
Risner spoke about the exhaustive – though rapid – search led by the Broncos’ second-year GM, which led to the selection of Hackett over the likes of Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell.
“I mean, he was on a plane for three weeks straight. Ten-plus interviews. You know, you have faith in what he's doing here,” Risner said. “You have faith in (the fact that) he brought in Nathaniel Hackett.”
The third-year left guard knows the hiring of Hackett has kicked the Aaron Rodgers rumor mill into high gear, but he says he isn’t following all the talk about No. 12.
“Obviously, Nathaniel Hackett coming from Green Bay kind of puts in everyone's minds, ‘Oh, hey, you know we might be able to get Aaron Rodgers here,’ but my job is to be the best left guard I can be," Risner said. "Whatever happens, whoever they put behind us, we're going to protect for him. ... Yeah, having a guy like Aaron Rodgers would be great. (He’s a) great football player. ... But it's not my job to worry about that. We’ve got a lot of guys who are a lot smarter than me doing that upstairs.”
No matter who he does or doesn’t bring with him from Green Bay, the Hackett Era begins soon in Denver. And Risner is ready for it.
“I can't wait to shake his hand. I can't wait to have him as my head coach,” he said. “I can't wait to play my butt off for him.”