Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett is an interesting candidate for Broncos head coach

Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett talks with quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) before their game against the Oakland Raiders Sunday, October 21, 2019 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis.
Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett talks with quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) before their game against the Oakland Raiders Sunday, October 21, 2019 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis.MARK HOFFMAN/MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL Packers21 1 Hoffman

The Denver Broncos submitted requests on Monday to interview a plethora of coaches for their vacant head coaching position. Just days after Vic Fangio’s termination, George Paton began the coaching search with fervor and amongst the list of potential candidates, one of the more notable names was Green Bay offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett.

Background and experience

Nathaniel Hackett, son of college and NFL coach Paul Hackett, has always been around the game of football and at the age of 42 is poised to make his first foray into head coaching.

Hackett’s career began in the college game at UC Davis where he was named the Aggies assistant linebacker’s coach and then shortly after became an assistant to both the offensive and defensive coordinators at Stanford, changing roles the following year to recruiting/specialist coordinator. His stint with the Cardinal ended in 2006 when he was hired by Jon Gruden in Tampa Bay and was made their offensive quality control Coach.

Hackett stayed in Tampa Bay for two years before taking the same role with the Buffalo Bills in 2008 working with the likes of Jeff Garcia and Ryan Fitzpatrick.

In 2010 he was hired by Syracuse as the Orange’s passing game coordinator and tight end/quarterback coach. This was Hackett’s first plunge into game planning and offensive coordination under head coach Doug Marrone.

In 2013 Doug Marrone was named the head coach of the Buffalo Bills and Nathaniel Hackett was brought along, becoming the Bills’ offensive coordinator. Hackett saw some success, especially rushing the ball with running backs CJ Spiller and Fred Jackson, but they struggled to throw the ball with quarterbacks Kyle Orton and EJ Manuel.

Marrone opted out of his contract with the Bills following the 2014 season and was brought on as the Jacksonville Jaguars’ assistant head coach and offensive line coach. Again, Hackett followed and was hired as Jacksonville’s quarterback’s coach and was elevated to offensive coordinator in 2016. He worked with, then, rookie hopeful Blake Bortles and the Jaguars saw a very productive season in 2017 with the NFL’s best rushing attack headed by Leonard Fournette and Chris Ivory. That same team went on to win the AFC South and made an appearance in the AFC Championship game before being beat by Tom Brady and the New England Patriots by a score of 24-20.

The very next season Jacksonville stumbled out of the gate, starting with a 3-8 record and Hackett was subsequently fired as the Jaguars’ offensive coordinator. He wasn’t out of work for long as he was hired as the Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator and preparing his team for the 2021-22 playoff grind as we speak.

Fit with the Denver Broncos

When evaluating Hackett’s fit with the Denver Broncos, George Paton will have to consider two major things, the first of those being what is his offensive vision for this team?

Yes, Nathaniel Hackett has been the offensive coordinator for the Packers for three years, but in those three years he has never been the primary play caller. Head coach Matt LeFleur has fielded these duties and the Packers have seen success with that recipe.

It’s no debate that Hackett seems to have a way with quarterbacks having made even Blake Bortles look like a next-level NFL starter, but has he seen enough leadership and taken enough ownership over an NFL team game plan to be considered the next hot young head coach that teams will pine for? George Paton better feel confident in Hackett’s ability and offensive play calling if he is going to make him the Broncos next head coach.

The 2021-22 Denver Broncos were the 23rd rank scoring offense and even though it doesn’t seem possible following Pat Shurmur’s sleepy play calling, there is room to regress. Who knows what the roster will look like in a couple of months but Paton made it clear with the resigning of Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick as well as in his most recent press conference that the next head coach of the Denver Broncos will need to be able to push this team, but especially the offense, to the next level.

The second question Paton needs to consider is, would the Hackett hiring be enough to draw Aaron Rodgers to the Denver Broncos?

It is a well-known secret that Aaron Rodgers has very recently been unhappy with the Green Bay Packers coaching staff and front office and is potentially looking for a change of scenery. It is an equally well-known secret that the Denver Broncos are in dire need of quarterback talent. If the plan to hire Hackett is step one of acquiring Aaron Rodgers, perhaps that is the move Paton should make.

Though his off the field antics and candid interviews have shed a negative light around the quarterback, his talent on the field is undeniable and he would be a massive upgrade at the quarterback position and immediately make the Broncos contenders. This team could go from underachiever to world beater overnight. But if it is the sole reason for hiring Hackett, then they better swing at Rodgers and not miss, or they could be squandering their opportunity to land a CEO-type coach and leader that this talented roster sorely needs.

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