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Nathaniel Hackett is betting on coaching experience being overrated with the way he’s built the Broncos’ staff

Zac Stevens Avatar
February 15, 2022

Out with the old, in with the new.

Nathaniel Hackett took this phrase to heart when building his first-ever staff as a head coach.

The 42-year old tweaked the phrase just a bit—out with the older coaches, literally, in with the newer coaches, literally.

Not only did Hackett nearly completely revamp the coaching staff in Denver, he completely changed the identity of the staff.

Hackett inherited a coaching staff full of experience, especially at the NFL level.

The first-time head coach said no thank you and delivered most of them their pink slips.

The majority of the new coaches Hackett has brought in have never had this prestigious of a role in the NFL. In fact, seven of the 11 positional coaches and coordinators Hackett has hired, or is expected to hire, will be doing their job for the first time at the NFL level this year.

This list includes offensive coordinator Justin Outten, defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero, offensive line coach Butch Barry, tight ends coach Jake Moreland, defensive line coach Marcus Dixon, inside linebacker coach Peter Hanson and outside linebacker coach Bert Watts.

None of them have previously done their new job at the NFL level before joining Denver this year. Did I mention Hackett is a first-time head coach too? Add him to the list.

Soon-to-be special teams coordinator Dwayne Stukes is the only coordinator on the staff with previous coordinating experience. He only has one year of experience as an NFL special teams coordinator.

The only three coaches with more than one year of NFL experience at the position they are coaching in Denver is quarterbacks coach Klint Kubiak, running backs coach Tyrone Wheatley and receivers coach Zach Azzanni. Wheatley and Azzanni have four years of experience coaching their respective position in the NFL, as well as total NFL experience.

Kubiak is the only coach on the squad who is taking a step back this year. Last season, Kubiak was the Vikings’ offensive coordinator. Every other coach on Denver’s staff is moving up the ladder in some form or fashion.

Additionally, three of the 11 will be coaching just their second season in the NFL this upcoming year.

It’s hard to imagine Hackett’s staff being any more different than the one that occupied the halls of the UCHealth Training Center just two months before.

Among the coordinators and position coaches, Hackett, Evero and Stukes have the most experience in the NFL, each having coached 14 previous seasons in the pros. No one else on the staff has more than eight.

The least experienced coordinator under the old regime was Tom McMahon. He has 15 years of NFL experience. So the least experienced coordinator on Vic Fangio’s staff is still more experienced than every single position coach and coordinator on Hackett’s staff, including the head coach himself.

McMahon’s 15 years of NFL experience falls well short of Fangio’s 37, Ed Donatell 32 and Shurmur’s 23. The old regime’s top coaches average nearly 27 years of NFL coaching experience.

The new staff’s top four coaches average 12 years of NFL experience. That’s less than half of the old staff.

But Fangio’s staff wasn’t able to turn that tremendous amount of experience into wins. In all three seasons under Fangio, the Broncos failed to have a winning season.

That experience meant nada in terms of racking up wins.

And by going young, Hackett may be riding the wave of the future too.

Not only were the two coaches in the Super Bowl first-time head coaches, much like Hackett, but Sean McVay and Zac Taylor’s staff were, for the most part, very inexperienced at their respective coaching positions as well.

McVay’s offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell and defensive coordinator Raheem Morris each had only one year of NFL coordinating experience before joining the Rams.

Taylor’s offensive coordinator Brian Callahan didn’t have a single year of coordinating experience, while defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo’s was only an interim defensive coordinator for one season before joining the Bengals.

Despite being first-time head coaches, neither McVay nor Callahan felt the need to be surrounded by only experienced coordinators. And it’s safe to say it worked out just fine for both of them as McVay has his first Lombardi Trophy and Taylor made it to the big game in just his third season with Cincinatti.

Is coaching experience now overrated in the NFL?

Nathaniel Hackett certainly believes so.

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