by Eric D. Williams
FOX Sports NFL Author
new Denver Broncos Coach Nathaniel Hackett was direct when asked what he wanted to see from the new midfielder.
“It’s all just about order,” Hackett told reporters during an off-season job. “We want to build this whole thing around it, make sure it’s completely comfortable and watch it come to life.”
In other words, this would be Russell Wilson’s crime.
To that end, Hackett spent the spring and early summer acclimating to Wilson for the attack that brought him from his time at Green Bay quarterback coach Aaron Rodgers, working to transfer the new Signal Connector to the scheme and new staff.
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For Wilson, it feels like a stark change from his former team’s reliance on agonizing running game and solid defense to win the Super Bowl.
Wilson and Seattle coach Pete Carroll later clashed over controlling and directing the offense, which led to the departure of offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer a year ago. Seahawks brought in OC Shane Waldron, but the split between Wilson and Carol remained, and Seattle decided to separate from QB through a massive trade with the Broncos in March.
Whatever his reasons for dropping out of Seattle, Wilson says he’s the same person who’s all about piling on wins and going to the Super Bowls.
“One thing I’ve always believed in is that it’s a lifestyle,” Wilson said. “You have to make yourself whole and think about the process of winning and being successful. And with that comes great opportunities but also great challenges – and how you manage and think about that.
“I have a great team. My performance team always comes with me wherever I go, and my assistant helps with everything. Everyone is very organized, so there is never wasted space.”
Broncos backing off Melvin Gordon III, who played for Wilson in Wisconsin, call it “winner’s aura.”
“It’s just that winner’s mentality,” Gordon said. “He’s always been like this. The first time I met him, when he came to Wisconsin, I was like, ‘Man, he just got this winner’s aura.’ “He carries it with him.”
Wilson said that for the past few weeks before opening training camp, he’ll spend time with the pass players training in San Diego. But the always busy Wilson didn’t fiddle with his thumb.
He gave the opening speech at Dartmouth College, his father Harrison Wilson’s University. Russell and his wife Ciara also traveled to Europe, where they played a tennis match at Wimbledon and watched the Formula 1 race in Monaco.
Wilson and Ciara even attended Ed Sheeran’s party with Hackett and his wife Megan at Wembley Stadium, where they worked to create that closeness between the coach and QB.
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After five consecutive losing seasons, Wilson’s addition caused quite a stir at Mile High. Denver’s new quarterback is No. 1 in NFL jersey sales. It has already hosted a passing academy for young footballers in Colorado.
Wilson also said he made time to spend with the newest quarterback to lead this franchise to a Super Bowl title: Peyton Manning.
“Obviously the thing Peyton and I love is football,” Wilson told reporters last month. “We could have spent the whole day watching football together. That’s what we were able to do, spend time together. We will do more as we go.
“It’s fun to be here the greatest player in the world ever to play this position. So, to be able to learn, to ask questions – and he asks me questions, that’s the fun part. Obviously, you have John Elway here as well. So, you have two. One of the greatest players ever to play the game between you and yourself.”
The Broncos has a new owner in Rob Walton, heir to the Walmart fortune. Walton’s side will eventually have to make Wilson one of the best paid quarterbacks in the game to keep him happy, something the Broncos understood when they traded multiple picks and three players to secure the 33-year-old’s services in March.
Meanwhile, with play-industry receivers Cortland Sutton, Jerry Goody and Tim Patrick and an improved offensive line, the Broncos are set to be much better on attack in 2022.
But Wilson is the drinking star in Hackett’s new crime. And in the stacked AFC West, the Broncos will need to hit all cylinders by week one, which happens to be Monday night’s game in Seattle for Denver.
“I think it’s going to be an exciting time,” Wilson said of facing his former team. “Obviously Seattle has meant the world to me for the past 10 years. It’s a special place to play at Lumen Field. I have a lot of respect for all these guys out there and what they do. I think it’s not emotional to me. You have to be unemotional, to be able to get in.” in it and understand that it is just a ball.”
Russell Wilson prepares to face the Seahawks in the season opener
Chris Broussard tells Nick Wright what to expect from Russell Wilson as the Broncos prepare to face his former team in the season opener.
What would a Denver crime look like with Wilson at the helm? Interestingly, it may sound a lot like the offense Wilson pulled off early in his tenure with the Seahawks, when they were Super Bowl contenders.
And just like Seattle at the time, the Broncos have one of the best defenses in the league, goodbye Justin Simmons, cornerbacks Patrick Serten II and Bradley Chap.
Expect the Broncos to lean on the outer zone trails led by one-to-two punches Javonte Williams and Gordon on the backcourt, and set up a play pass game to take deep shots on the field. Wilson remains one of the best deep bowlers in the game.
Besides, Wilson is clear of injuries that have limited his mobility over the past few years in Seattle. With Wilson energized and well, Hackett would use his QB ability to get out of pocket and create the second reaction plays he became famous for during his early years in Seattle.
“We always want the guys to be ready to extend the playing period,” Hackett told reporters during the off-season. “He’s got a lot of tape in his past where sometimes plays don’t work the way we want them to as a coach, and he makes you look good by running.
“Even if there is a possibility of a cyst in that moment, you never know with it. So we want to try to extend it, and we want to push those bases out there to have to constantly cover it.”
So perhaps this isn’t a stark change for Wilson. But there is one major difference: For the first time, Wilson has a young attacking mentor as head coach. The son of longtime NFL coach Paul Hackett, 42-year-old Nathaniel Hackett, and Wilson are crafting their vision for how they would see attacking on game day.
“He brings a lot of energy,” Wilson told reporters of Hackett while working the off-season. “He’s young. He’s vibrant. He brings intelligence to the game. He obviously has great pedigree. He wants to win too. Our relationship is really solid.”
Looks like they’re ready for Seattle.
Eric D. Williams has reported on the NFL for more than a decade, covering the Los Angeles Rams for Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Chargers for ESPN and the Seattle Seahawks for the Tacoma News Tribune. Follow him on Twitter at Tweet embed.
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