Denver Broncos Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett is a new-age coach who leans on more modern philosophies instead of the “old school football” approach that others do. One of these more modern practices is the lack of starters playing in the preseason. We see it in Los Angeles with Sean McVay and we also see it in Green Bay with Matt LaFleur. A vast majority of their starters do not play during the preseason and by the sounds of it, we should start expecting that in Denver.
Nathaniel Hackett reiterated that he doesn’t like preseason games.— Aric DiLalla (@AricDiLalla) August 16, 2022
I think there’s a real chance we don’t see certain starters at all in either of the remaining two games.
Hackett said controlled practices are just as good, in his eyes.
After yesterday’s practice, Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett was asked about his philosophy of not playing starters much or at all during the preseason. He replied to reporters by saying he doesn’t really like the preseason and that his experiences growing up around football and as a coach in the NFL that the risk isn’t always worth the reward.
“You know me—I don’t like the preseason. That’s just my philosophy, my upbringing after just seeing all the different things that I’ve seen in the past. There’s always that risk-reward. I think we would all sit here and say, ‘Sure, we want the guys to go out there, do good, and get reps.’ In the end, we want to be smart with the guys. It’s a 17-game season.”
Hackett has continued to stress to reporters that this is a 17-game season and that he wants to keep the player's bodies healthy for the grind they’re about to do in a few weeks. Wearing them down in physical practices in camp and then playing in meaningless preseason games takes a toll on the body and could lead to injuries down the road. So, Hackett is being conservative here and banking on a fresh Broncos roster taking care of business come week one.
Hell, we already saw how the conservative approach worked last week when the Broncos dominated a Dallas Cowboys team during a scrimmage and during a preseason game. They were the more physical team and were flying around out there, so maybe Hackett is on to something.
A reporter pressed Hackett again on the matter and he just reiterated that his past experiences growing up around football as a kid and what he has learned as a coach has opened his eyes a bit. There are other ways to do things and successful coaches have made these other ways of doing things work successfully.
“I think again, it starts with my experience in the past, growing up as a kid and watching certain things happen that you’re just so frustrated about. You’re always judging that risk-reward factor. Then my past experiences as a coach, you all of a sudden look at all the different things that you did, whether it was practicing every day, hitting every day nonstop. How many reps can you get in one day? I’ve been that situation. I have been in the situation when you barely get any reps because you’re over protecting. I think it really opened my eyes with what we did in Green Bay. Knowing [Rams Head Coach] Sean [McVay], knowing [Packers Head Coach] Matt [LaFleur] and seeing how they did it. I think it really opened my eyes because of how healthy we were able to be. In the end, that’s what we’re trying to do as coaches. We want them to prepare for that Week 1. That’s all that matters to me.”
“Risk vs. Reward” is something he continues to mention and it’s something we saw play out during the Cowboys. They played starting linebacker Jonas Griffith in that game and two plays into the game, he suffered an elbow injury that will sideline him potentially for over a month. The reward was getting a player who hasn’t played many snaps some meaningful reps while the risk was the dreaded injury bug. Injuries happen, it’s football, but minimizing the risk during these meaningless games is something I am all for.
We don’t need to see Russell Wilson, Justin Simmons, Courtland Sutton, Jeudy, Surtain II, Chubb, and the rest of the notable starters during the preseason. They’re getting their work in during the practices. If the team came out flat against Dallas during the scrimmage and the preseason, then I’d be concerned. Well, that did not happen. Actually, the exact opposite happened.
So, the angry mob of select local media and such waiting to pounce on Hackett and blame his conservative approach on whatever negative thing that has happened will have to wait a bit longer.
It has worked in Los Angeles and it has worked out in Green Bay so, I do not see why it shouldn’t work out here in Denver. Plus, it’s good to see the depth of the Broncos roster get some valuable reps during the preseason. These reps could help these players help the Broncos roster if they’re called on during the season.
Also, it keeps us from seeing Russell Wilson getting hurt and having to enter the Jimmy Garoppolo talks out of desperation.
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