Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett hands over play-calling duties to quarterbacks coach Klint Kubiak

Looking for an injury-free offense and helping his struggling quarterback find a rhythm, Nathaniel Hackett makes the biggest change of his young tenure as Broncos head coach:

Hackett hands over play-call duties to quarterbacks coach Klint Kubiak, who sends the calls to Russell Wilson starting with Sunday’s home game against the Raiders, according to sources.

Hackett informed players of his decision at Saturday night’s team meeting, telling them in an impassioned and enthusiastic speech that he is ready to do whatever it takes to help the team improve after a disappointing 3-6 start.

Sources say Hackett chose the 35-year-old Kubiak because he’s called plays before — the Vikings had one of the NFL’s most explosive offenses with Kubiak as offensive coordinator in 2021 — and will give Wilson a different view from Kubiak’s seat in the booth . It remains a collaborative process, with Hackett and Offensive Coordinator Justin Outten also heavily involved in the game plan and on headset during the game, as Kubiak calls the plays and becomes the voice in the ear of Wilson, with whom he has forged a close relationship .

The son of former Broncos QB and Super Bowl-winning head coach Gary Kubiak, Klint Kubiak sent in plays all week in practice. But Hackett told only a few people in the building, including Wilson and general manager George Paton, about his decision ahead of Saturday’s team meeting.

While Kubiak is on the radio in practice this week, Hackett was spotted bouncing around the field and working with various position groups — the kind of hands-on coaching he loves. And by not calling plays in the game, the Broncos coach can focus more on game management and all three phases, both during the week and on the sidelines.

It’s not an unprecedented move for a first-time head coach in the NFL. Last year, Eagles coach Nick Sirianni handed play-call duties to offensive coordinator Shane Steichen midway through the season, and the Philadelphia offense began following the change. Giants coach Brian Daboll, a successful offensive coordinator at Buffalo, tabbed Mike Kafka calls the plays during his New York rookie season.

It’s a bold move by Hackett, the former Bills, Jaguars and Packers offensive coordinator who has come under fire during his first season as Denver head coach. The Broncos have the NFL’s top-ranked scoring defense going into Week 11, while the offense ranks 32nd in scoring. Wilson – acquired in a blockbuster trading with Seattle and signed to a $245 million contract extension this off-season – completes a career-low 57.4% of his passes with an 81.4 passer rating, only seven touchdown passes and five interceptions.

The Broncos are currently tied with an NFL-high 15 players on injured reserve, and the many injuries haven’t helped Wilson and the forward find rhythm. They lost No. 3 receiver Tim Patrick to a torn ACL early at training camp. Run back Javonte Williams (torn ACL) and tackle left Garett Bolles (broken leg) also suffered injuries at the end of the season. Wilson has gone through multiple injuries himself, including a very wide back load and a partially torn hamstring. Several other offensive linemen also missed time. And the Broncos will miss two more receivers on Sunday jerry jedy (single) and K.J. Hamler (hamstring) ruled out due to injury and rookies play in place next Courtland Sutton.

The Broncos are still in every game; their six losses come by a five-point average and they have the third most one-possession losses in the NFL (five).

The hope is that the play-calling change will translate into more points and wins, starting in Denver on Sunday.

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