From the second he walked through the door, Denver Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett has been focused on restoring unity to his squad. Team bonding can take many different forms, and with training camp now looming large, the Broncos veterans and rookies will soon set up residence in a local hotel to spend more time together as a unit.
It’s hardly reinventing the wheel, but Hackett’s intentions are very clear — establishing friendships and finding common ground with the players will be pivotal in realizing his greater vision.
“If we’re not a close team, if the guys don’t know each other, if the guys don’t feel great about that guy next to him, then that’s not good,” Hackett explained via Broncos TV. “So I think for me, it’s about those guys bonding, them learning about the Coaches – Coach learning about them. And when you get that tight-knit group then you can get through anything, you can persevere though anything, and I think that’s what we’re trying to accomplish.”
Unsurprisingly, the veteran players will have to be the driving force behind fusing everybody together away from the grid-iron. Kicker Brandon McManus is the only player who remains from the Super Bowl 50 roster. He explained how being roommates worked for the 2015 Broncos and how it can therefore work for their 2022 counterparts.
“I’ve always enjoyed it. I’ve enjoyed being just steps away the guy’s rooms, hanging out, watching a movie or playing cards,” McManus said via 9NEWS‘ Mike Klis.
McManus continued reminiscing on the 2015 squad.
“There’s a big bond there,” McManus told Klis. “I think a big factor with our 2015 Super Bowl was we were such a tight-knit group. We would always linger after practice and hang out. … It doesn’t please the wives necessarily but as a football team I do think it has a lot to do with your success.”
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Using the template of Denver’s last Super Bowl win is easier said than done when you consider that McManus is the only man left standing from that famous group. On a more personal level, when a team captain like McManus jumps on board, it shows the younger players that everyone is buying in — even if it means surrendering some well-earned comforts.
While to a large extent, the Broncos have been quick to vanquish the failed Vic Fangio dynamics, the roster is seemingly crying out to be treated as adults. Fangio’s frequently gruff and domineering management style didn’t always sit easy with veterans, and over time the Broncos are starting to let that be known.
Hackett is obviously steering the ship in a completely new direction, and he feels at ease in giving the veteran players the responsibility to set the tone and demand total professionalism from each other. That undoubtedly makes a bold statement, but it shouldn’t be viewed as any kind of gamble on the first-year head coach’s part.
Instead, frame it as forming another essential component on which to build the synergy required to match the Broncos’ championship aspirations.
Follow Keith on Twitter @KeithC_NFL.
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