Five Nathaniel Hackett quotes that suggest Drew Lock is the Denver Broncos’ upgrade to QB in 2022
The NFL’s worst-kept secret is that the Denver Broncos are preparing to go all-in to acquire MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers from the Green Bay Packers. The Broncos’ No. 1 pursuit in 2022 is to improve the quarterback position.
There is more than one way to improve a position, however. Of course, a team may be looking for outside talent that is seemingly a marked improvement over the personnel currently on the roster.
Such a venture can come through the trade market, free agency, or the NFL Draft. It’s likely the Broncos will chase down the three avenues in search of an improvement at quarterback.
Another way a team can improve the quarterback position is to hire the right coaches to bring out the best in talent already on the roster. In other words, the Broncos could have already gone quarterback by hiring Nathaniel Hackett as head coach because of the impact on Drew Lock.
I’ll explain why, but first I need to set the stage.
Through the ringtone
Entering the fourth and final year of his contract, Lock went through the Mile High ringer. He started five games as a rookie, winning four, and entered the sophomore year with hopes about as high as they come.
Alas, just about everything went against Lock in 2020, starting with the firing of offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello and QB coach TC McCartney, a duo who obviously knew how to get the best out of Lock and protect him. in the program.
Vic Fangio hired Pat Shurmur to replace Scangarello, and it couldn’t have been worse for Lock. It was a terrible harbinger of things to come.
Long story short, 2020 has been a disaster for Lock. The blame was directed almost uniquely, and unjustly, in his direction.
Fangio, seeing his boss John Elway quit as general manager at the end of the season, saw the writing on the wall when George Paton was hired to succeed him in the front office. 2021 would be a do-or-die campaign for Fangio as head coach.
And so, Fangio did what anyone with an unlosable coaching mindset would do and sought out a more proven veteran to surreptitiously supplant Lock. Upon Teddy Bridgewater’s arrival, Fangio pitted Lock against him and sold it in the press as an open contest “equals Steven, 50/50”.
In retrospect, although Lock showed improvement in camp and smashed the gates in his one and only preseason start, Bridgewater still took his job as a done deal. And so the development of Lock and what was best for the Broncos in the long term was abandoned in the interest of expediency and what was best for Fangio in the short term.
Lock started the final three games of the 2021 campaign after Bridgewater suffered a second concussion, losing all three. However, Lock was extremely secure with the football, seemingly fully focused on not turning it over.
The mandate not to return him has absolutely limited Lock’s potential over that three-game streak. He diligently followed his coaches directive, but still found ways to push the ball down to a much bigger clip than Bridgewater. It was palpable.
But Lock’s conservatism did nothing to save Fangio or Shurmur, as both were fired at the end of the season. And if anything, that only further stifled any momentum the young QB might have created at the end of a lost 3 year.
Finish the old, make way for the new. Hackett may be the answer to unlocking (see what I did there?) Drew’s potential.
I am optimistic about the idea. Distilling it down to five points, here are a few things Hackett has said since taking over the Broncos job that suggest Lock is this team’s upgrade to QB, if, indeed, Denver turns to him as a starter in 2022 for whatever reason.
1. The players become the system
As the antithesis of Shurmur’s round-peg, square-hole philosophy, Hackett believes in structuring his playbook around the strengths of his staff, not the other way around. Shock. Hackett believes in identifying what his players do best and leaning into it.
“As a coach, you provide a system and you teach players a system,” Hackett said during his remarks. “My favorite thing is when the players become the system and the players own the system and it’s theirs.”
Imagine what the Broncos offense might look like and how Lock might operate, in a system designed by coaches to glean the best from players. Lock hasn’t seen such a scenario as a pro since his rookie year.
2. Having his QB’s back
At the first opportunity to do so, Fangio and Shurmur literally and figuratively turned their backs on Lock. Neither of them could hardly bother to say a positive word about him every time a microphone was pointed in their face.
Hackett, however, has an entirely different view. Talking is cheap, but what Hackett said NBC Sports‘ Peter King is good news for Lock.
“I’ve been with a lot of different quarterbacks, and they always know that I’ll put them in a position to excel, and I’ll always support them,” Hackett told King.
The last coach to have Lock’s back hasn’t been employed by the Broncos since 2019. When Scangarello was shown the door, so was any coaching support system for Lock.
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3. Down Shots
Shurmur’s dink-and-dunk offense was anathema to Lock’s natural disposition as a self-proclaimed “gunslinger.” However, Hackett’s attacking approach, although it starts with the rushing attack out of the area, ends in shooting down, another aspect which, on the outside, meets Lock’s strengths.
“I think the starting point is outside the zone,” Hackett said. “The outside zone in attack is what you want to do, and you want to base that on the play pass. You want the defense to cover the whole pitch. You want to shoot the pitch. Let’s all face it, that’s what that the people in the stands love, they love those bombs on the pitch.”
Whether it’s Lock or another QB under Denver’s center this year, rest assured the offense won’t look like the snoozefest it has for most of the past six years. Lock wants to throw him on the field. Given the chance, Hackett will try to maximize Lock’s chances of connecting on those shots with his unique sense of Xs and Os training.
4. Genuine energy and excitement
Lock is a guy full of energy. It’s laid back and very loose, but it’s also amped up when the juices start flowing.
Hacket too. From a pure personality standpoint, Hackett and Lock should get along right off the bat.
Both have a favrean enthusiasm for football and both like to have fun at work. But Hackett’s goal as a leader is to bring real energy and enthusiasm to every corner of the UCHealth training center and that bodes well for a guy like Lock. It will be like manna from heaven to Lock after wandering the pedantic slump of Shurmur for two years in a row.
“I think it’s big. It has to be that authentic juice, that authentic energy. It has to be who you are,” Hackett said during his first Broncos press conference.”[It has to] Vibrate throughout the installation, everyone must feel it. It’s not just one person, you don’t just save it for your star player. He must be with anyone and everyone. It’s something so important – this whole generation and this world is changing. I call this world of the “YouTube” generation. Meetings are different from when I started, I try to keep people’s attention, inspire them and excite them. As a coach, you need to have that excitement and energy to find different ways to approach them and motivate them to learn and improve every day.
The Broncos have a young roster. Hackett’s approach to connecting with gamers and coaching them from there is exactly what is needed to reach these young dudes in the “YouTube” era.
5. The “I can’t stop” mentality
Hackett understands that when it comes to putting a QB in the best position to succeed and protecting them, there are a number of ways to skin that cat. For Hackett, that mandate goes beyond assembling a good offensive line.
“When you’re developing a quarterback, I think all quarterbacks have to be successful,” Hackett said. “You have to be sure you’re protecting them and anytime you’re dealing with a young quarterback you want to be sure, and even with an older quarterback you want to be sure you’re always protecting them. You do that. with both the protection with the offensive line and the management of the football. I think that’s kind of the best way to always be able to make sure that they’re successful and that they’re able to have the clean pockets… Offense is going to be there for a long time, so you bring somebody in and you develop it, and they can get the reps they can figure out a game because when you start calculating the analytic data on a game, the different things that can happen in each one through all the different covers. There’s so many different things that can happen in a game for a quarterback, so I think it’s always working with them, always teach them and letting them get to a comfort level so they can go out and play and have that ‘can’t stop me mentality’. I always talk about that. That’s what you want the quarterback to have when he comes out.
Again, imagine Lock under the wing of a trainer who genuinely wants to instill in him a “can’t stop me” mentality. We don’t know what the limits might be.
Lock’s tangible tools and traits have never been questioned. He is extremely talented. Questions about Lock as an NFL quarterback have always revolved around intangibles.
What better coach to help achieve Lock intellectually, emotionally, and perhaps even spiritually than Hackett? If the Broncos swing and miss Rodgers and can’t find a QB in the 2022 draft class worthy of a first-round pick, the odds are in Lock’s favor to be Hackett’s first-year starter.
If that’s how the football gods will it, I can’t help but foresee good things on the horizon for Lock and an upgrade to quarterback for the Broncos – even if it comes from the source. most improbable and unexpected.
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