Aaron Rodgers Injury Places Hackett Under Microscope
Be honest, Jets fans. If you endured Jets football in the early 2000’s when Paul Hackett was the team’s offensive coordinator, you were less than thrilled to hear Gang Green had hired his son Nathaniel to fill that same role in 2023. No, the younger Hackett wasn’t responsible for the mundane offenses of 2001-2004, but hearing that name gave you a migraine that, unlike Paul Hackett on 3rd down, wouldn’t quit.
But of course there was a caveat to the hire. If adding the younger Hackett meant Aaron Rodgers would follow, all would be well in Jets land. After all, Rodgers knows his offense inside and out from their time together in Green Bay. If Rodgers came on board, he’d have free reign to make whatever calls he saw fit. The future Hall of Famer would be heavily involved in formulating the weekly game plan with the ability to audible in and out of whatever play he preferred in a given situation.
In all reality, Rodgers would be the de facto coordinator. Hackett would have the title, but Rodgers would be running the show. The team didn’t even try to hide it. On several occasions, the Jets acknowledged the fact that Rodgers would have tons of freedom in the huddle and at the line of scrimmage. For Jets fans, it meant the OC hire was a mere formality to help entice Rodgers to come to Gotham. And it worked.
However, with Rodgers now done for the season and Zach Wilson being the next man up, the Jets are going to need Hackett to be more than just Aaron Rodgers’ closest friend and sidekick. They’re going to need him to help develop a young quarterback who has struggled mightily as he enters his third pro season. And even though there have been signs of improvement from Wilson, he’s still got a long way to go.
Is Hackett the man to get him there? At this point, there’s little history to suggest he is. But in looking at the young quarterbacks he has worked with, it’s not as if they went on to do a whole lot once they were away from Hackett either. Perhaps EJ Manuel, Kyle Orton and Blake Bortles wouldn’t have done a whole lot of anything whether they crossed paths with Hackett or not.
Following his stints in Buffalo and Jacksonville, it was on to Green Bay where he and Rodgers would forge a great friendship, but at that point Rodgers was already a Hall of Famer. He and Hackett may have done some great things together, but Hackett was far from instrumental in developing Rodgers.
Now Rodgers is on the shelf and Hackett will once again be working with a talented young quarterback who may look like an elite quarterback one second, and a guy who has no business being in the league just moments later. Hackett will hope to cultivate the former while burying the latter.
For those who still have nightmares of Paul Hackett’s always predictable offense that seemingly never threw the ball beyond 12 yards and ran a draw play on every third and long he ever saw; a similar approach may be appropriate early on for Wilson as the Jets try to win games with defense and a strong running game.
So while the 53 names on the roster may be different from top to bottom, don’t be surprised if this Hackett’s offense, as difficult as this may be to digest, looks eerily similar to the other Hackett’s scheme for the short term.