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This stat reflects well on NY Jets OC Nathaniel Hackett

NY Jets OC, Offensive Coordinator, Nathaniel Hackett
Nathaniel Hackett, New York Jets, Getty Images

This stat indicates that Nathaniel Hackett can succeed as offensive coordinator of the New York Jets

At whose doorstep can the Denver Broncos’ 2022 offensive struggles be laid—then-head coach Nathaniel Hackett, now offensive coordinator of the New York Jets, or quarterback Russell Wilson?

While a lone statistic likely cannot answer that question, Pro Football Focus released a statistic that seems to place a lot more of the blame on Wilson.

PFF listed the teams that had the most snaps with three or more open receivers in 2022. The Broncos ranked fourth on the list with 189 plays having three or more open receivers, behind only the Chiefs, Seahawks, and Bengals. That would tend to indicate that Hackett did not do as bad a job as it seemed from the team’s actual production.

There could be multiple reasons for having open receivers all over the place, and some of them must be attributed to the skill of the players. Still, a play-caller generally gets a significant amount of credit when they scheme receivers open. That is what systems like Andy Reid’s and Kyle Shanahan’s tend to do, making them less reliant on elite receiver talent.

We saw something similar from Mike LaFleur early in 2022. For about half to three-quarters of the season, LaFleur did a solid job of scheming players open. (Check out Michael Nania’s week-over-week quarterback grades to see countless examples.) He simply did not have the quarterback play to get the results that should have followed.

Indeed, what happened with Hackett was trying to run a system that opens space over the middle with a quarterback who has always struggled in that area. Now, the coach certainly deserves some blame for trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. He should have modified his system to fit his quarterback’s strengths. However, this is not an indictment of his ability to create opportunities for the right quarterback—like Aaron Rodgers.

Aaron Rodgers vs. Russell Wilson

Here is the comparison of Wilson’s and Rodgers’ stats and ranks when throwing over the middle of the field in 2022, per NFL Next Gen Stats (36 qualified quarterbacks, min. 50 passes over the middle):

  • Next Gen Stats score: Rodgers 89 (T-5th), Wilson 67 (36th)
  • Quarterback rating: Rodgers 107.3 (7th), Wilson 75.2 (34th)
  • Completion percentage over expected: Rodgers 1.8% (T-8th), Wilson -12.9% (36th)
  • EPA per dropback: Rodgers 0.31 (9th), Wilson -0.08 (35th)
  • Open percentage: Rodgers 45.9% (27th), Wilson 59.9% (1st)

In other words, Rodgers was one of the best middle-of-the-field passers despite having open receivers at a far below-average rate. Wilson, on the other hand, was one of the worst middle-of-the-field passers despite having open receivers at the highest rate in the league.

Besides Hackett’s prior success with Rodgers, this gives another reason to think that the coach can be successful in New York. His main problem offensively seems to have been his quarterback more than his scheme. That is an exciting prospect for a team that now has the quarterback to succeed.

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Jim G
11 months ago

I don’t see this as a fair comparison. If we are comparing QB talent, there is little question that Rodgers is the better QB. If the issue is who is better throwing over the middle, again, there is no question that Rodgers is the better QB.

There were so many gaffes by the Broncos last season, including the game-ending field goal disaster in Week 1, and the absolutely miserable performances on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day, that I think Hackett created a losing mentality in the locker room.

Besides, you are giving credit to the Jets OC for scheming receivers open, yet for the Broncos you are giving the HC credit for scheming receivers open. To be fair and consistent, shouldn’t credit go to both OCs or to both HCs?

Matt Galemmo
11 months ago

That IS an exciting prospect.

Can I ask for a follow-up? How often were the Jets’ current projected top five open over the middle last season (is that data available)?

11 months ago