The first domino of the New York Jets’ 2023 offseason has fallen. On January 26, Gang Green announced that they would be hiring Nathaniel Hackett as their new offensive coordinator, as well as Keith Carter as their new offensive line coach and run game coordinator.
Not long after the news, head coach Robert Saleh addressed the media and a clear message rang true while he spoke — the job is far from finished.
“When you look at Nathaniel [Hackett] and this team,” Saleh voiced to reporters, “we know we’re going to have a revamped offensive line, we’ve been talking about getting a veteran quarterback in here if we can, we’ve got a really young group of skill guys, so it was very important for us to have guys that have done it before. Because of the conviction, because of the philosophy, and then having the recall — the scars, if you will, to be able to build what we think can be a really special offense.”
Just listen to all those breadcrumbs from Saleh on the upcoming tasks now that the OC is in place. Bulk up the offensive line, bring in a veteran QB — something the Jets HC had never said publicly before — and hire a senior offensive advisor, which he later confirmed was still on the agenda.
“We still want to do that,” Saleh reiterated about the senior advisor role. “I still want to recreate the same format that we had when we first got here with, God rest his soul, Knapper [Greg Knapp]. I still want to do that. I think it’s a good working dynamic when you look across the league — that role is becoming something that’s very important.”
Jets’ Robert Saleh Explains Nathaniel Hackett OC Hire
The Jets HC also spoke on the Hackett hire in general, shedding some light on the process and the “why” behind the coaching addition.
“We casted a wide net,” Saleh began. “We interviewed well over 15 different candidates for [the offensive coordinator] position… when it came back to a certain checklist that I was trying to go through just checking boxes on what we were looking for with regards to this next offensive coordinator, just kept circling back to [Hackett]. He checks every box.”
“One of the great strengths [with Hackett] is that he is a west coast guy with regards to scheme, so there’s going to be some continuity there,” Saleh detailed later. “He’s got a proven history of being able to develop a heck of a run game in every stop that he’s ever been in. He’s got a proven track record of tremendous relationships with all the quarterbacks that he’s ever worked with, and he’s had success will all the quarterbacks he’s worked with [as an OC]. There [are] a lot of strengths with [Hackett].”
Saleh ended up listing a few other traits that he liked about Hackett:
- Commitment to complimentary football.
- Wealth of experience.
- Innovation as a teacher.
“He’s an unbelievable person, first and foremost,” Saleh followed up. “He’s got tremendous character. He’s got a magnetic personality, people just gravitate toward him.”
Robert Saleh Won’t Name Aaron Rodgers as QB Target Yet
Saleh admitted that the number one concern from all the OC candidates he hired was the current state of flux at the quarterback position, but he also added that the Jets are “committed to finding a veteran” signal-caller in 2023.
“We didn’t get into names,” Saleh clarified, “but it was talked about that we do plan on bringing in a veteran quarterback if we can.” He also noted that the other part of the job requirement was a willingness and a plan to develop Zach Wilson into the player he was drafted to be.
“We still have a lot of faith in [Wilson],” Saleh reasoned on the back end of the presser. “He does things with the football in his arm that you can’t teach and he’s still young — he’s only 23 years old — and he’s already got two years under his belt in this league. So we just want to make sure that we give him every opportunity to grow and develop, so the expectation is [for the new OC] to pour your heart and soul into that young man just like you will every other player on this football team. The definition of a football coach is developing the players to the best of their ability and finding what their ceiling is, and we’re very confident in Nathaniel and his ability to do that.”
In terms of a veteran QB, Saleh did not mention the name Aaron Rodgers — who fans and analysts have petitioned for in recent weeks — but he did relay that Hackett will begin studying available QB candidates for his offense next week in an effort to find the right fit.