Now that the Denver Broncos Nathaniel Hackett has been appointed to be the 17th full-time head coach in the franchise’s history, it’s time to start digging into what that means for the rest of the list. While Hackett was not the primary offensive game caller with the Green Bay Packersthere are many tips that he can bring a variant of the same system to his new job.
To find out more about what this actually means, I reached out to Bobby Peters for today’s episode of Cover 2 Broncos. Peters is a civil engineer and author who wrote The 2020 Green Bay Packers Complete Offensive Guide, Something I researched last season to learn about Aaron Rodgers’ offense. What follows is a brief overview of the topics we have discussed.
- Although both systems originally came from the same tree, one of the major differences between the Packers offense under Matt LaFleur and the San Francisco 49ers violation under Kyle Shanahan is how Green Bay made a concentrated effort to simplify their staff and scheme. Is that something Hackett is bringing to the Broncos?
- What are the benefits of a streamlined versus multiple offense?
- What are the disadvantages of this approach?
11: 60% of all photos
12: 20% of all photos
21: 12% of all photos
22: 3% of all snaps
13: 3% of all snaps
11: 55% of all photos
12: 24% of all photos
21: 14% of all photos
22: 2% of all snaps
13: 4% of all snaps
11: 60% of all photos
12: 29% of all photos
21: 2% of all snaps
13: 2% of all snaps
- Like LaFleur and Hackett, Pat Shurmur’s offense in Denver played most of their screenshots out of 11 and 12 people.
- During the two years that Pat Shurmur was the Broncos’ attacking coordinator, they managed a diverse running scheme that used both zone and gap blocking. Hackett was an attacking coordinator for three NFL teams: the Buffalo Billsthe Jacksonville Jaguars, and the Green Bay Packers. Through his stops, he preferred a zone blocking scheme.
The following data is extracted from Kneeling down, which takes Pro Football Focus’ map data and presents it in graphical form. Worth noting that PFF cards date back to 2014, so I’m still digging into the 2013 Buffalo Bills.
First up are the 2020 and 2021 Broncos. Shurmur leaned on inner zone as a bread-and-butter concept for Melvin Gordon, who had it as a major subject dating back to his time with the Wisconsin Badgers.
Like the 2021 Broncos, the Packers under Hackett and LaFleur also used in-zone more than any other concept. What is striking is how very rarely have they used any gap concept other than duo.
Duo is commonly referred to as “power without a tractor”. It uses gap blocking at the front and can be difficult to distinguish from within zone. The difference lies in the attacking line. Unlike inside zone, the blockers do not step unanimously in the same direction on duo. Instead, they step up to each other in an attempt to create a double team on their mission, thus creating vertical displacement.
Without underestimating the importance of the attacking line, it is important to acknowledge the onus placed on the ball carrier’s decision making to maximize the duo. His initial goal is the outside leg of the play side guard, but where he ends up depends on his reading of the Mike linebacker. If the Mike uses the inside gap, the back should look at the space to cut. If the Mike takes advantage of the outside gap, the return to and through his initial goal should accelerate.
One thing that stood out to me a lot about Hackett’s time as the attacking coordinator of the Jaguars is how the offense was highlighted out of zone after Jacksonville drafted Leonard Fournette fourth overall in 2017. This was not a coincidence. The 228 lbs. Fournette left GVE as a phenomenal size / speed prospect who had questions about his visionwhich can be exacerbated in an off-zone scheme. Similar questions plagued the Broncos’ Javonte Williams as he left North Carolina.
The 2014 accounts were a difficult year in Buffalo due to injuries, but the data point is worth noting. CJ Spiller broke his collarbone in October and missed most of the second half of the season, while Fred Jackson missed a month of the season after suffering a groin injury in October. The 33-year-old still ended up as Buffalo’s leading rush. Anthony Dixon and Bryce Brown also saw significant fractures, and the Bills used inside zone more than four times as often as any other concept.
- Are there any significant similarities between the two offenses?
- In what ways is Hackett a departure from what the Broncos have been doing over the past two years?
- Peters noted in the introduction to his book that the Packers passing game focused on isolating the WR1 and making him the first read in the fullback’s progress. Over the past three years, Davante Adams has been targeted 445 times in the regular season, more than three times any of the Broncos’ top receivers over the past three years. What could Hackett’s passing offense mean for Courtland Sutton, Tim Patrick and Jerry Jeudy?