Nathaniel Hackett’s 2nd Broncos interview goes 9 hours, and Aaron Rodgers hinted he could follow

Aaron Rodgers and Nathaniel Hackett in 2019. Credit: Mark Hoffman,
Aaron Rodgers and Nathaniel Hackett in 2019. Credit: Mark Hoffman,

For the first time in years, it’s an extremely exciting time in Broncos Country.

Following six straight years of missing the playoffs, the Broncos are going to have a whirlwind of change this offseason as they hire a new head coach — and assistant coaches too — while also getting a new owner. Oh, and they will almost certainly have a new quarterback, too.

First up, is the head coach.

GM George Paton has gone all-in on this coaching search, interviewing 10 different qualified candidates, and on the weekend of wonderful divisional games, we heard the search had been whittled down to a top-3. Those three are Dan Quinn — most folks’ frontrunner — Nathaniel Hackett and Kevin O’Connell.

Quinn is the man with the head coaching experience, and he’s a defensive-minded head coach. Meanwhile, Hackett and O’Connell are young offensive coaches and neither of them have been in charge of a team before. Either way, there’s a huge risk for Paton because this is his first coaching hire and the fanbase is hungry for winning.

So, while Quinn brings his experience — including coaching the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI — O’Connell and Hackett are intriguing because the league has leaned towards younger, innovative head coaches. Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan are coaching against one another in the NFC Championship Game this Sunday, while Zac Taylor is coaching against the outlier and old man, Andy Reid in the AFC Championship.

Beyond winning to satisfy the fan base, Paton will want to impress the new owner, too.

Speaking of impressing, the 42-year old offensive coordinator of the Green Bay Packers Hackett, was the first of the Broncos candidates to experience his second interview. He and Paton — and the others — interviewed for more than nine hours on Monday night. Without knowing anything for sure, both of those are positive signs that Hackett could soon be “the guy.”

Hackett’s got a 15-year NFL coaching career, including being the offensive coordinator at Buffalo, Jacksonville and since 2019, Green Bay.

Of course, that’s been with Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay. And Rodgers has enjoyed a resurgence over the last few years, being named a First-Team All-Pro the last two seasons and he was the NFL MVP in 2020.

Simply, even at 37 years old, Rodgers is arguably the best quarterback in the league today.

And way back in 2020, Rodgers gushed about his buddy Hackett:

Last offseason, Broncos Country dreamed of landing Rodgers, and even though that didn’t work out, they’ve been fawning over him all of this offseason as well. Of course, that continued due to the subpar play from Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Lock.

However, recently Rodgers said he and Packers’ GM Brian Gutekunst have patched things up. “The organization and I, the conversations we’ve had, we’re in a way different place than we’ve ever been and I’m really appreciative of Brian (Gutekunst). For him and I, both, coming together and finding common ground and having great conversations and Russ (Ball) and Mark (Murphy) — it’s been a really enjoyable year from that standpoint”, Rodgers expressed on ‘The Adam Schein Podcast’.”

As far as Hackett is concerned, Paton has to be secure in believing he’s the right man for the head coaching job going forward, with or without Rodgers. Because, even if he is hired by the Broncos, there’s no guaranteeing Denver will be able to trade for Rodgers. And on top of that, Rodgers is coming closer to the end of his career and has even floated the idea of retiring.

On the flip side, working with Rodgers earns Hackett some major resume points and it’s possible he could relate all that experience to a young quarterback, too.

Quinn is set for his second interview in Denver this week after interviewing in New York for the Giants head coaching job on Monday.

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