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Should NY Jets fans buy into Aaron Rodgers’ Hackett statement?

Nathaniel Hackett, NY Jets, OC, Aaron Rodgers
Nathaniel Hackett, New York Jets, Getty Images

New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers stressed to fans that they should trust offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett

In an interview with Adam Schein of Mad Dog Sports Radio, New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers stressed to fans that they should put their trust in offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. However, instead of any real reasoning as to why fans should trust Hackett, the 40-year old laid out the classic “trust me, bro” quip.

“Well, you should trust me, and I trust Nathaniel. So, to me, that’s end of story,” Rodgers replied when asked why Jets fans should trust Hackett. “There’s been a lot of BS that’s been said out there. There are a lot of things that have gone on in the last couple of years that he’s dealt with that I think he’s handled very professionally. And at the end of the day, I think you gotta trust his and my working relationship and the conversations that we have.”

So should Jets fans put their faith in Hackett and the Jets offense?

Can Hackett hack it?

Hackett started coaching in 2003 at UC Davis before getting his first NFL opportunity in 2006 as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ offensive quality control coach. However, it wasn’t until 2013 that he would have his first offensive coordinator position in the league, coming with the Buffalo Bills.

The 2013 Bills finished 6-10 on the season with a 69.5 offensive grade from PFF (third-worst in the NFL) and the 29th ranked passing attack. They averaged 1.48 points per drive, which was 25th in the NFL.

In 2014, the Bills improved to 9-7, but that was solely because of the defense. Buffalo’s offensive grade at PFF dropped to 67.0, placing 30th. They ranked 23rd with 1.58 points per drive despite getting the league’s fifth-best average starting field position. Hackett was relieved of his duties after the year.

His next chance an OC would come in Jacksonville. There, Hackett was the quarterbacks coach before being promoted to offensive coordinator midway through the 2016 season after the firing of Greg Olson.

In 2017, with a full year under his belt, the Hackett-led Jaguars offense finished with a 72.2 grade from PFF (15th) while ranking 14th in points per drive (1.82). With Blake Bortles at quarterback, the team would work its way to the AFC championship game before falling short to the New England Patriots.

The following year, Jacksonville finished 5-11, largely due to a major offensive drop-off. The Jaguars averaged 15.3 points per game (second-worst in NFL) with a PFF offensive grade of 62.9 (third-worst in NFL). At the end of the season, Hackett was relieved of his duties.

The 2019 season would be a revival for Hackett’s coaching career. With Matt LaFleur coming in as the Green Bay Packers’ head coach, he chose Hackett as his offensive coordinator – although LaFleur would be the offensive play-caller.

Over three years in Green Bay, Hackett helped Rodgers win two MVPs, while the Packers won 13 games each year. At PFF, Green Bay turned in offensive grade rankings of ninth (78.8), first (90.7), and eighth (82.1), respectively.

Hackett left the Packers in 2022 to coach the Denver Broncos – an opportunity Rodgers claimed was “overdue.”

Hackett’s tenure with Denver was notoriously bad. Current Broncos head coach Sean Payton stated that his tenure “might have been one of the worst coaching jobs in the history of the NFL.” And while he caught plenty of slack for that comment (especially after losing to the Hackett-led Jets in 2023), there is some truth to his statement.

Hackett’s Broncos were the worst scoring team in the NFL in 2022, averaging 16.9 points per game as they limped to a 5-12 record. Hackett did not even make it to the end of his first year, as he was fired after Week 16.

Despite his brutal performance in Denver, Hackett was signed as the Jets’ offensive coordinator once it was rumored that Rodgers may have a chance of joining the team.

As Jets fans know, the 2023 season was a disaster. Hackett’s offense posted the worst DVOA rating in franchise history after losing Rodgers on the first drive in Week 1. At 15.8 points per game, the Jets were fourth-worst in the NFL, and one spot above the New York Giants. Their 56.8 offensive grade was the worst by any team in PFF history (since 2006). In a five-stat metric for isolating play-calling performance tracked by our own Michael Nania, Hackett ranked 32nd among NFL play callers.

At face value, it seems like Hackett struggles without an elite quarterback. Despite the Jaguars’ playoff run with Bortles in 2017, the following year seemed to show that was more of a fluke than anything. Outside of that 2017 season, Hackett’s offenses have been miserable without Rodgers at quarterback. And in 2024, Rodgers may not even be the player that most fans are used to seeing.

The best is yet to come?

The wind was completely taken out of the sails of Jets fans after losing Rodgers for the reason of the season. However, the season prior was far from Rodgers’ best outing, too.

The 2022 season would see Rodgers put up his worst statistical season of his career (when playing 10+ games). He failed to throw for 4,000 yards, averaging a career-low 217.4 yards per game. He also had a career-low 91.1 passer rating, and his 26 touchdowns were tied for the second-fewest of his career when playing at least 16 games.

However, it would later be revealed that Rodgers broke his thumb in Week 5. While that does allow us to forgive his lack of production, it raises another concern entirely. Will Rodgers be able to stay healthy going forward? If so, then Jets fans may be able to breathe a sigh of relief heading into 2024. If not, there’s little reason for fans to put any type of faith in the offense this year.

Now, it’s understandable that this seems like a harsh review of Hackett’s career – while doubting Rodgers’ availability. However, the true details of any situation are never black and white. Perhaps the “BS” Rodgers alluded to in his Mad Dog Sports Radio interview is significant enough that the Jets OC could see a rebound in 2024.

Yet, until the Jets are able to win more than just headlines in the offseason, there are plenty of reasons for fans to be genuinely skeptical of their offensive coordinator.

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