TRAINING CAMP 2022

Day 12 showcased ways that the Hackett-Wilson offense could shine

Aug 9, 2022, 3:28 PM
Russell Wilson...
(Photo by Andrew Mason / DenverFan.com)
(Photo by Andrew Mason / DenverFan.com)

The Denver Broncos went through another day of training camp and I would say it was at a “medium” pace. They’ve had some jog-through days, but on Tuesday things were more spirited than that. The word is Wednesday will be that type of ultra-light workout.

I’m just waiting for Thursday’s practice to get here. Tuesday was nice, and Wednesday is likely to be quite uneventful. However, training camp should wrap up with a bang with the Dallas Cowboys in town for a joint practice on Thursday. There’s only one more day to go before we get to that finale.

Here are some of my notes from Day 12 of training camp.

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Juiced Up

Russell Wilson still has plenty of good football left in his game. He’s a veteran quarterback learning a new system, so there will be some growing pains. Not every throw has been great, not every play has gone for big yardage, and Wilson has made some mistakes.

However, Wilson does not make the same mistake twice. He’s a fast learner who is adjusting to the system and his new teammates. I like the way Wilson shows an enthusiasm for the work. It’s not been easy out there, and things have not always been smooth. Through it all, Wilson has shown great leadership.

When he needs to take off and run, he can. Wilson may not quite be the rusher he used to be, but you can tell that he’s buying time with his feet to make plays with his arm. Every day in practice, Wilson keeps stacking reps, and I think he continues to show flashes of skill that can make him not just good – but great in the 2022 season.

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Wide Open Shots

I love the design of the Nathaniel Hackett system. He is using formations to influence the defense the way he wants. By utilizing the formation, Hackett can force the coverage he wants – only to exploit it the way he wants to.

Wilson is going to get some wide-open shots with this system. Many plays look the same, but the intent for each one is different. The Broncos can lull the defense to sleep with formations and looks they think they’re used to only to be duped into coverage that doesn’t work.

This is where the receivers and tight ends can run free. The offense is tough to stop if run correctly, and when those shot plays come up we know Wilson won’t be afraid of launching the pass and going for the defense’s jugular.

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Offensive Line Looks

One of the biggest concerns Broncos fans have this year is the state of the offensive line. I believe this is the best o-line Wilson has ever had as the units he had in front of him in Seattle were well below average. I also believe this system takes time for the offensive linemen to get down.

It’s the complexity of the offensive line that is causing their play to suffer at times in practice. The offensive linemen must stay on tracks when blocking in the wide zone system. If they’re too far ahead of the play the timing will be off, and the play will not get the results it’s designed for. This is not a power system but instead requires the line to move the defense laterally. When a defender can break through the line, chaos can ensue.

More than a few times, the Broncos rush was getting through to Wilson. It’s not a great look, but I think it highlights a few things. First, the rush for this defense is better than some think. Second, it’s good to get these breakdowns in practice where they can be worked on behind the scenes. Third, it’s a positive that Wilson can still scramble to buy time.

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The Missing Ingredient

I’ve watched a lot of Broncos practices over the years. As a credentialed media member since 2004, I’ve seen tens of thousands of reps at training camp. There is one key ingredient that was missing over the last few years that has returned to Dove Valley this year – fun.

Hackett is making practice fun for the offense. Ejiro Evero is making defensive football fun for his guys. Even the Broncos special teams seems to be having fun. You can tell when the team steps onto the practice field every day that they are prepared to learn, and they’re going to have fun doing it.

Fun was not part of the game plan for the previous regime, and you could tell it negatively impacted their performance. Now, fun has returned, and I expect that to show up on the field as this team will believe in themselves when the chips are down. I believe that starts in training camp, and it starts with fun that is had between teammates when going through the grind.

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Most Talked About Not Here

Most of the conversation at UC Health Training Center was about a player who was not at the facility. It’s not because he’s banged up and not on the field, it’s because he’s not a part of the team (yet?). When the news broke that Chicago Bears inside linebacker Roquan Smith requested a trade, it had fans and media buzzing about the possibility of him winding up in Denver.

Broncos general manager George Paton may be looking to upgrade the position. Reports indicated Anthony Barr chose the Cowboys over the Broncos, but those were the final two contenders for his services. The Broncos also brought in Joe Schobert for a workout but did not sign him. It’s clear that Paton wants to find the best 53-man roster possible. I’m not sure they could pull off a deal for Smith, one of the best ILBs in the game, but it certainly would be an upgrade.

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Day 12 showcased ways that the Hackett-Wilson offense could shine