This morning, the New York Jets and Denver Broncos are searching for someone to blame for their current predicaments: Sean Payton, Russell Wilson, Broncos defensive coordinator Vance Joseph, Nathaniel Hackett, or Zach Wilson? There’s only one lightning rod who deserves the most of the smoke though.
Aaron Rodgers’ capacity for changing the trajectory of franchises is unmatched. I’m not talking about the Green Bay Packers, either. That crowdfunded franchise has plateaued as a playoff contender for nearly 30 years. No, Rodgers is responsible for the auspicious direction that the Denver Broncos and the New York Jets are heading in.
Picking Nathaniel Hackett over Mike McDaniel
Nearly two years ago, the Broncos refused to even grant a 38-year-old Mike Shanahan acolyte an interview because they were so enamored with Nathaniel Hackett and his formal connection to Rodgers. They locked in on him quickly and refused to open up their palates. At the time, Mike McDaniel’s was making a name for himself. He was young, a branch off the Shanahan coaching tree, a former Broncos ball boy from Aurora, Colorado, and a coaching intern during the 2005 season. As San Francisco’s run game coordinator under Kyle Shanahan for five years, he was instrumental in the Niners’ success despite having Jimmy Garopollo under center.
Things could have played out much differently for the Broncos than they intended. There was no writer’s strike before the 2022 season. Hiring McDaniel would have made for a storybook reunion. As a senior in high school, McDaniel was practically swooning over the Broncos. Denver hoped that Rodgers would ask out and Hackett would give them the leg up once Rodgers named his preference. Instead, Rodgers spurned Denver to make another run at the Super Bowl with Green Bay.
The butterfly effect of Rodgers’ decision resulted in the Broncos moving down the ladder, acquiring Russell Wilson, inking him to a five-year, $245 million extension that has become an anchor weighing Denver down. Meanwhile, McDaniel has the Miami Dolphins running on nuclear power. More importantly, he flummoxed defenses by powering them through speed and pre-snap movement. The only coach who’s been able to compete in the gridiron chess match with McDaniel and Co. was Bill Belichick.
Then there are the NY Jets…
After the Nathaniel Hackett and Wilson experiment burned itself out, the Broncos turned to Sean Payton, and the Jets picked Hackett off the trash heap. One offensive possession into the season, and the Jets are in scramble mode. On Sunday, the Broncos and Jets lost by a combined 57 points. In fairness to New York, 50 of those points were a product of the Massacre in Miami. The Jets generated only 15 points and Wilson was their weakest link. When he has time to throw, Zach Wilson is a chicken with its head cut off. In a muddy pocket, he was 3-for-3, for 29 yards, and sacked three times when pressured. Hackett’s offense, sans Aaron Rodgers, lacks creativity.
That’s partially a result of Aaron Rodgers’ influence. Rodgers pointed out throughout the Mike LaFleur era that he prefers a static offense, which allows him to go up-tempo. That became a point of contention with him and LaFleur in Green Bay, even while they were competing for NFC Titles.
“When you have so much motion, it’s hard to get tempo going. You always have to make sure you’re set, and you have a motion, or a double motion, or a jet off of it,” Rodgers explained during 2022 training camp..
That’s all good when Rodgers is the starting quarterback, but these Jets are sitting ducks when Wilson drops back. Wilson needs all the help he can get, even if it’s a minor pre-snap adjustment.
The best offenses excel at getting defenses out of position prior to the snap. Sean McVay, Kyle Shanahan, Mike LaFleur, Andy Reid, and Eric Bieniemy each incorporate elements of pre-snap movement as smokescreens. Miami has been poetry in motion before the play begins. Four out of those five coaches are the most renowned coaches in the league. Neither are the Jet and Dolphins. Both franchises bet big on Rodgers and lost.
Original source here
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