Nathaniel Hackett Addresses Return to Denver in Week 5

Nathaniel Hackett

Getty Then-Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett looks on prior to a 2022 game.

Former Denver Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett is putting on a poker face before facing off against his old team.

Hackett will return to Denver for the first time since being fired 15 games into his head coaching career during the 2022 season as the Broncos finished 5-12.

The New York Jets offensive coordinator will treat the Broncos matchup like another game. Hackett was asked about the support he received in light of critical comments made by Sean Payton over the summer.

“It’s been great,” Hackett said during a press conference on October 5. “It’s been great. I think that for all of us, our sole focus is on winning a football game. We got to get better on offense and we got to do our part to be able to score more points.”

Payton pinned Denver’s failures squarely on Hackett, according to a July 27 story by USA Today’s Jarrett Bell. The veteran coach said Hackett’s tenure “might have been one of the worst coaching jobs in the history of the NFL.”

One reporter asked whether Hackett would be able to compartmentalize Payton’s comments.

“I mean, that’s how this game is. As a coach and every single thing we do you can only control what you can control. And for me, I can control trying to get these guys in the best position to beat the Denver Broncos.”

Hackett had swift replies to questions regarding whether Payton had apologized or reached out to him.

The coach took the high road and instead wanted to shift focus to the players taking the field.

“This game is not about me, it’s about me helping them during the week. But I just want the guys to go out there and play a great game.”

Jets Head Coach Shares Thoughts on Hackett’s Return: ‘Personal’

Hackett was tight-lipped about his return to Denver in Week 5.

Jets head coach Robert Saleh was unafraid to share his thoughts on the matchup for his offensive coordinator.

“From whatever was said in training camp, in a football life, that was like 20 years ago,” Saleh said on Monday, October 2. “That’s a non-topic, but obviously it is going to be a personal feel to go back.”

Saleh expects emotions won’t get the best of Hackett against the Broncos.

“I think [Hackett] understands, coach’s kid and going through this process, he will know how to handle himself. He will know how to keep his emotions in check and to make sure we do what’s best for this organization and this team with how it stands now. I fully expect him to be perfectly fine and levelheaded.”

Colin Cowherd: ‘Let’s Not Pretend Like Nathaniel Hackett Works’

Cowherd threw additional fuel onto the Broncos-Jets matchup heading into Week 5.

The sports media personality criticized Hackett by stating, “Let’s not pretend like Nathaniel Hackett works.”

Cowherd compared quarterback Russell Wilson in 2022 under Hackett and his first four games with Payton. The comparison heavily favored Payton.

“Russell is a significantly better quarterback across the board. A passer rating from 80s to 106.7. One thing’s changed: the coach,” said Cowherd on the October 5 episode of “The Herd”.

Wilson had his worst statistical season under Hackett, having career lows in touchdown passes (16), completion percentage (60.5) and passer rating (84.4). The veteran quarterback has already thrown for nine touchdowns in four games under Payton.

Despite having a decade of experience, Cowherd points out that Hackett’s offenses have an unremarkable track record.

“Ten years as a head coach or an offensive coordinator, only two of 10 years, Nathaniel Hackett’s offenses have even been in the top half of the league. Those two years were with Aaron Rodgers. And it was Matt LaFleur’s offense and Matt LaFleur was calling the plays.”

During Hackett’s 15 games in charge, the Broncos averaged 15.5 points. Through four games with Payton, Denver’s offense averages 25 points per game.

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