Packers Assistant Hired by AFC Team as Head Coach: Report

Hackett/Broncos Hire

Getty Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett of the Green Bay Packers watches action prior to a game against the Washington Football Team at Lambeau Field on October 24, 2021 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

The Green Bay Packers will need to find a new offensive coordinator for 2022.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Denver Broncos have hired Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett as their new head coach after hosting him for a second interview on Wednesday, January 26. It will be his first stint as an NFL head coach.

Schefter also added the Broncos acted quickly to prevent Jacksonville from having a shot at Hackett, who was scheduled to interview with the Jaguars on Thursday. Hackett had previously served as the Jaguars’ quarterback coach (2015-16) and offensive coordinator (2016-18), but the 42-year-old coach will now head to Denver to assist the Broncos with their quarterback troubles instead of taking the opportunity out east to help develop former No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence.

One of the biggest challenges awaiting Hackett will be trying to establish consistent quarterback play in Denver for the first time since Peyton Manning retired in 2016. His hiring also increases fervor about the possibility of the Broncos trading to acquire Packers starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers — who has not made a decision about his future with the Packers. If Rodgers wants to keep playing and decides it is time to move on from Green Bay, there is now a familiar face in Denver to entice him.

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Packers Could Lose Another Top Assistant

The Packers can now begin interviewing candidates to replace Hackett as their offensive coordinator for the 2022 season. It is possible they will look inward and promote one of their talented offensive assistants such as offensive line coach/run game coordinator Adam Stenavich or quarterback coach Luke Getsy; however, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Broncos have requested to interview Stenavich for their offensive coordinator opening.

Stenavich — who was brought on when head coach Matt LaFleur was hired in 2019 — has done an incredible job developing the Packers’ offensive line over the past three seasons. According to ESPN Analytics, the Packers touted the fifth-most successful pass-blocking line (66% win rate) and fourth-best run-blocking unit (73% win rate) during the 2021 season, which is even more impressive when you consider they played the majority of the season without All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari, Pro Bowl guard/tackle Elgton Jenkins and rookie center Josh Myers.

If Stenavich also leaves, LaFleur will have several key positions to fill on his coaching staff in the coming months. It is also expected — or demanded, rather, by some Packers fans — that LaFleur will fire special teams coordinator Maurice Drayton after his unit was a liability for the team for much of the 2021 season.

Could Jordan Love Also Be Option for Denver?

Right now, the world is waiting on Rodgers to decide what he wants to do about his NFL future. He could sign a new deal with the Packers and fulfill his dream of finishing his days with the same organization. He could insist upon a change of scenery and get traded to another team, likely in the AFC. He could also potentially retire from the NFL altogether and take a step into the next phase of his life — as a soon-to-be husband to actress Shailene Woodley and, one day, a father.

If Rodgers does remain in Green Bay for the 2022 season, though, it is possible Hackett might try to acquire another first-round quarterback from the Packers: Jordan Love.

Hackett has been a key figure in the first two years of Love’s development with the Packers. While Love saw no action as a rookie, he made his first start in Week 9 of the 2021 season against the Kansas City Chiefs while Rodgers was on the reserve/COVID-19 list and showed flashes of what inspired the Packers to trade up for him in 2020. The Packers would have little use for Love if they recommitted to Rodgers for the foreseeable future, so maybe Hackett’s familiarity with the 2020 first-rounder could make the Broncos an easy trade partner.

The Packers would be looking at a much lesser return for trading Love instead of Rodgers, but getting an additional pick — maybe as high as a third-rounder — could help general manager Brian Gutekunst reload Green Bay’s roster with new talent for a Rodgers-led future.

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