Nathaniel Hackett’s hire officially begins the Jets’ QB search; the speculation of the Jets’ next offensive coordinator is over. The team officially hired Nathaniel Hacket Thursday morning. The Jets also hired Keith Carter as their offensive line coach and run-game coordinator.
Hackett was the former head coach of the Denver Broncos, helming the team for only 15 weeks. In his tenure, the team went 4-11, despite having one of the better-performing defenses in the league. The Denver offense was a different story; they were the 32nd-ranked offense overall and ranked 30th in points per drive. Once Hackett was fired, the Denver offense started to perform better and score more points.
Yet, it is fair to question how much Hackett was at fault for Denver’s offensive struggles. Russell Wilson, who was acquired in a trade before the 2022 season, completely regressed and looked nothing like the elite-level quarterback he had been in Seattle. In an article Thursday, Connor Hughes of SNY wrote that Wilson “basically told the staff what he did and didn’t want to do” regarding Denver’s offense and that Hackett obliged Wilson’s requests.
Outside of Denver, Hackett has experience calling plays for the Bills and Jaguars. His most notable year was in 2017, as Hackett was the offensive coordinator when the Blake Bortles-led Jaguars made a run to the AFC Championship game. Hackett was also the Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator before taking the Broncos’ job. Despite not calling plays, Hackett was responsible for red-zone planning for the Packers. His offenses ranked 17th, 2nd, and 8th in yards per play from 2019-2021, and he oversaw two MVP seasons from Aaron Rodgers.
Nathaniel Hackett’s Hire Officially Begins The Jets’ QB Search
At a press conference today, Jets’ head coach Robert Saleh spoke about why Hackett was hired for the position.
“When it came back to a certain checklist that I was trying to go through, just checking boxes on what we were looking for with regards to this next offensive coordinator, just kept circling back to him. He checks every box that we’re looking for, I’m not going to get into details of it, but really, really excited about this and being able to get Nathaniel here.”
Saleh also spoke about the strengths Hackett brings to the table, mentioning “continuity” with the West Coast scheme, a proven history of developing a run game, and “a proven track record of tremendous relationships with all the quarterbacks that he’s ever worked with.”
In addition to Hackett, Saleh spoke about hiring Keith Carter as the offensive line coach and run-game coordinator.
“Yeah, was shocked he got let go at Tennessee. Obviously, philosophical differences, and not to speak for them, but really excited about Keith. Continually in his time at Tennessee, even with Derrick Henry out, they were still able to spit out top 10 run games, been very effective in the red zone, running the football, getting the ball past the goal line and all that good stuff. Hard-nosed, hard-charging football coach that we’re really excited to get, so this combination, again, there was a lot of things going on with the o-line coach and the coordinator and just trying to make sure that we paired up the perfect team.”
Even with Hackett and Carter in place, the Jets still plan to add a senior offensive assistant to the staff. Saleh mentioned how he wants to “recreate the same format we had when we first got here” and how having someone in that role is vital for the offense.
More importantly, though, the Jets can now fully begin their search for a veteran quarterback to lead their offense. The immediate name that will be linked to the Jets is Aaron Rodgers, the current quarterback of the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers’s relationship with Hackett is well documented, as he has repeatedly talked about their friendship and vouched for Hackett on multiple occasions.
To put it in the simplest terms possible, Rodgers would be an immediate upgrade over the rest of the quarterbacks on the Jets’ roster. His presence would potentially set up the Jets to not just be competitive but truly compete in the AFC next season. But as exciting as a Rodgers acquisition would be, it is no guarantee that he would want to come to the Jets or be traded.
Outside of Rodgers, the other options for the Jets will most likely be Derek Carr and Jimmy Garoppolo. While not as exciting as a Rodgers trade, they would be upgrades over the current Jets’ quarterbacks and would bring a sense of stability to the position.
Heading into the 2023 season, the new offensive staff is likely in the same boat as Robert Saleh and Joe Douglas. Positive results likely mean that everyone keeps their jobs, while negative results likely indicate that the Jets are looking for new leadership for the 2024 season.
Those decisions are still a long way away, though. It is impossible, at this point, to truly grade the hire of Carter and, more importantly, Hackett. Until the Jets get a quarterback and that quarterback can begin working in the system, any judgments made are most likely premature. In addition, the performance of Hackett’s offense during the season will be vital in determining the hire’s success.
Hackett’s hiring is the opposite of Mike LaFleur, as he is an experienced coordinator who has called plays for multiple teams throughout his career. It remains to be seen how the hire will work out for the Jets, but with the new offensive coordinator in place, the team is now one step closer to getting a quarterback and fully building their 2023 offense.