Over the summer, Sean Payton took plenty of heat for criticizing former Denver Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett. Following the New York Jets‘ 34-13 loss to the Miami Dolphins, NFL fans turned to social media to vindicate Payton.
One fan took to X, formerly Twitter, and believed Payton was onto something when discussing Hackett’s time in Denver.
“Maybe Sean Payton knew what he was talking about this offseason with the Broncos last year.”
Payton blamed Hackett for Denver’s 5-12 campaign in 2022, according to a July 27 story by USA Today’s Jarrett Bell. The veteran head coach stated Hackett’s time in the Mile High City “might have been one of the worst coaching jobs in the history of the NFL.”
Another fan shredded Hackett for calling on quarterback Tim Boyle to throw a desperation pass right before halftime. The pass was intercepted and returned for a 99-yard touchdown by Miami safety Jevon Holland.
“Good God Almighty why did Nathaniel “Can’t” #Hackett call a Hail Mary at the end of the half? You take a knee and go into halftime with momentum. Sean Payton was right. Fire Hackett! HE’S GOT TO GO! PURE INCOMPETENCE!”
An additional fan wanted Hackett fired but stated it would not happen while Aaron Rodgers is on the team.
“Hackett absolutely should be fired and Sean Payton was right about everything. That said I don’t see it happening. There’s no way they do that to Rodgers — who will now try and go on yet another revenge tour for both him and Hackett in 2024.”
The offensive ineptitude in New York should put a smile on Payton’s face, knowing his comments were inevitably proven right.
Broncos’ Offense Much Improved Without Nathaniel Hackett on the Sideline
Entering Week 12, the Jets were statistically one of the worst offenses in the NFL. According to Zack Rosenblatt of The Athletic, New York ranked last in third-down conversions, red-zone conversions, 30th in yardage and 30th in scoring.
Per Josh Alper of NBC Sports, Hackett’s play-calling generated two first downs, 40 yards, zero third-down conversions and zero points through the first three quarters against Miami.
Compared to where the Broncos were offensively in 2022, the unit is flourishing under Payton.
Through 10 games, Denver is averaging 21.7 points per game, ranking 15th in the league. For reference, the Broncos ranked dead last in scoring with 16.9 points per game in Hackett’s 15 games at the helm.
Quarterback Russell Wilson is further proof of Denver’s improvement under Payton.
Wilson has completed 69% of his passes while throwing for 19 touchdown passes to four interceptions. The veteran completed a career-low 60% of his passes with a 12-9 touchdown-to-interception ratio in 13 starts with Hackett.
It would appear the turf was greener on the other side for Denver after they moved on from their former coach.
Sean Payton Discusses Whether He’s Paying Attention to AFC Playoff Hunt: ‘Tunnel Vision’
While the playoffs are becoming a fantasy for Hackett’s Jets, the opposite is true for Payton’s Broncos.
Denver is looking to make the postseason for the first time since winning the 2016 Super Bowl. The Broncos are one game back of the Houston Texans and the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC playoff picture.
Payton was asked whether he was paying attention to the playoff hunt. The head coach hinted at his team taking things one game at a time.
“You do get tunnel vision to the next challenge in front of you,” Payton told reporters on November 22. “Hopefully we all do because I think it’s better relative to your preparation and focus.”
The Broncos must continue taking care of business if they hope to rebound from their 1-5 start. Denver needs wins over the Cleveland Browns and Texans in their next two games to improve their standing in the conference.
Payton seemingly wants the Broncos to focus on what they can control until then.
“I think really the focus is inward on what we have to do… It’s good that the questions are coming, it’s better than the alternative. And yet, there’s just so many things we’ve got to get better at. There’s still that race to improve,” Payton said.