From playbook changes to Ed Sheeran shows, Denver Broncos want Russell Wilson 'comfortable'

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Since the Denver Broncos acquired quarterback Russell Wilson in a franchise-shifting trade this offseason, the word "comfort" has been tossed around almost as much as "playoffs" or Wilson's new signature phrase, "let's ride."

And that has meant providing Wilson with anything he needs to transition from new arrival to franchise pacesetter in a matter of weeks. For coach Nathaniel Hackett, that has included everything from playbook adjustments -- "I want Russ to be playing at a very high level" -- to taking a London trip with the Wilsons -- "my kid's first concert, and I got to take him to Wembley for Ed Sheeran," Hackett said.

The team has embraced Wilson's array of personal coaches, trainers and others at the Broncos' complex.

"First and foremost, in this game -- to have a quarterback perform at a high level, it takes a whole family," Hackett said. "I think Russ has done a great job of surrounding himself with a great support group and they're all great people. We know them well."

Hackett arrived in January after Vic Fangio had been fired in the wake of the Broncos' sixth consecutive playoff miss. Less than two months later, general manager George Paton let Hackett in on what was the organization's biggest offseason secret: the Broncos were going to secure Wilson in a trade for five draft picks (including two first-round picks and two second-round picks) and three players.

Since, Hackett, Paton and the rest of the Broncos decision-makers have embarked on the mission to get things the way they want them while also, as Hackett put it, "getting Russ as comfortable with what we're doing as we can."

The Broncos know the raw power a franchise quarterback brings to a team; they've seen it up close in John Elway and Peyton Manning. Hackett, who makes no secret of his desire for out-of-the-box thinking, has constructed a playbook that emphasizes Wilson's deep ball accuracy, his mobility and ability to make quick decisions in real time. Hackett wants to keep Wilson from taking so many hits and to get the ball out quickly every time possible.

As the early days of training camp unfold, both say the approach is on track.

"I think coach Hackett and I -- our bond is so strong," Wilson said. "Our communication and his understanding of the game -- the why's of the game, the history of the game. He's a guru at it. ... Every meeting, every detail, every practice meeting, and everything you do out here there is for a reason. Just setting that up has been fun."

Wilson's profile on and off the field has quickly been established. Wilson's social media presence has chronicled travels to Wimbledon, the Monaco Grand Prix and the ESPYs. Wilson and his wife, Ciara, are high-profile, A-list celebrities. For many music fan, Wilson is Ciara's husband who happens to play football. Their purchase of a home in suburban Denver generated plenty of local interest, as did the opening of their clothing boutique at a suburban mall.

It's all part of the Russell Wilson package -- one which could eventually include a long-term extension that will surprise many in the league if it doesn't make Wilson the highest-paid quarterback.

"It's just part of it," wide receiver Tim Patrick said earlier this offseason. "We see how he works when he's with us. We see his knowledge of the game and we know what he's done. When he's at quarterback, he's all-in at quarterback."

"Just to be able to have him around. Just his energy, his excitement, and his love of the game," Hackett said. "It brings a smile to your face."