Plenty of conversation around the Broncos this off-season has focused on a culture shift, or a change in the culture at The UC Health Training Center. When you have five straight losing seasons, that's expected. And while general manager George Paton gets credit for building a competitive roster, head coach Nathaniel Hackett and quarterback Russell Wilson are the two people most often mentioned in creating a new atmosphere throughout the organization.
Wideout Courtland Sutton, who was a pro bowler in 2019, likens Hackett's offense to the one the team ran under Rich Scangarello. And while Sutton said he's fine with anyone having success, he knows that the offense is still going to go as Wilson does. And when you play a reliant position, as Sutton does, you need to be on the same page with your signal caller. But beyond that, Sutton credits Wilson with changing the expectations and the mood across the Rocky Mountain Region, similar to another Hall of Fame quarterback who came to Denver in his mid-thirties, "you all see how Russ came in, he didn't just change the vibe and energy for the team," Sutton said. "I mean you can literally feel the energy flowing through the entire city, though all of Broncos Country. Everyone is as excited as we are to be able to play with him. There was a complete wave shift when Peyton (Manning) walked into the building. Everyone talks about how it was, and the standard got set to a different level. I wasn't here when Peyton was here, but I was able to hear it from Emmanuel (Sanders) and D.T. (Demaryius Thomas) He had a mission and he knew what he was coming there to do. It's a very similar thing that Russ does. Russ comes in and he has an agenda that he's getting done that day. He's coming in and he's gonna push himself and everybody around him to be able to maximize what they bring to the table. Anybody that remotely wants to get better will feed off that and love to be around that."
Prior to the trade for Wilson, when Hackett was hired, all anyone talked about was his energy, and how he engaged with people, and that's something that his players noticed right away. Defensive lineman D.J. Jones signed here in March after spending the last 5 seasons playing for Denver native Kyle Shanahan. And while both are offensive coaches, Jones offered this as the biggest difference between the two, "Hackett—he is an intelligent mind with high energy. Kyle will sit back. Kyle is really relaxed, and he’s not going to yell too much. They are both great coaches, but I’m excited to be here with him."
Jones spent the better part of the last half decade chasing Wilson around as the 49ers faced the Seahawks twice a season. Whether it's eluding tackles at practice, or his leadership style, Jones admitted that nothing's really surprised him about Wilson since they became teammates. "“He’s definitely preparing us for that with having a mobile quarterback. It’s not like he’s just standing in the pocket. He’s doing what he does. He’s out there scrambling around and making plays, so that will definitely prepare us."