The first domino of the 2022 NFL coaching carousel fell on Thursday morning when the Broncos agreed to hire Nathaniel Hackett as their newest coach.
Hackett had been scheduled to do a second interview with the Jaguars for their coaching job. The Broncos didn’t want to risk losing him, so instead, they hired Hackett after his second interview with the team. He becomes the Broncos’ fourth different coach since the 2016 season, and he will replace Vic Fangio, who was fired after three seasons at the helm in Denver.
Hackett will look to lead Denver to the postseason for the first time since 2015, when Peyton Manning was still the team’s quarterback. His skill set differs from the team’s two most recent head coaching hires, as Fangio and Vance Joseph were both defensive-minded coaches while Hackett’s experience comes on the offensive side of the ball.
Here’s everything to know about Hackett and his history of developing quarterbacks at the NFL level.
Who is Nathaniel Hackett?
Hackett, 42, is a young, offensive-minded coach that has 13 years of NFL experience under his belt. He grew up around football as the son of former Chiefs, Jets and USC offensive coordinator Paul Hackett. During the 1990s, he served as a ball boy for the Chiefs.
The younger Hackett attended UC Davis, where he was a Neurobiology Physiology & Behaviors major and taught a hip-hop class, as Peter Schrager detailed on “Good Morning Football” after Hackett was hired.
“A Neurobiology Physiology & Behaviors major, a former hip hop dance class teacher, and the guy who helped Blake Bortles & the 2017 Jaguars get a few plays away from the Super Bowl. Oh, and someone Aaron Rodgers champions.”@PSchrags on @Broncos new Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett. pic.twitter.com/9sH4xMEEiN
— Good Morning Football (@gmfb) January 27, 2022
Hackett began his coaching career as an offensive quality control coach with the Buccaneers in 2006. He spent four years in that role with the Buccaneers and Bills before trying his hand at the college game.
From 2010 to 2012, Hackett coached at Syracuse under Doug Marrone. He became the offensive coordinator for Syracuse and helped turn quarterback Ryan Nassib into a fourth-round pick.
Hackett made the jump back to the NFL when Marrone was hired as the Bills’ head coach in 2013. He was hired as Buffalo’s offensive coordinator and spent eight of the next nine years in a coordinator role for three teams — the Bills, Jaguars and Packers.
Hackett coached three, top-10 offenses during his eight years as a coordinator. More importantly, he helped improve the quarterback play at each of his stops. In Buffalo, he made Kyle Orton look like a competent passer. In Jacksonville, he helped Blake Bortles put together his best season in 2017, and was part of the staff that brought Jacksonville to within a few plays of making the Super Bowl.
And, of course, in Green Bay, Hackett has helped lead Aaron Rodgers to a mini career resurgence. He won the MVP for the 2020 NFL season and is favored to do it once again for the 2021 season.
Hackett will now be charged with helping Denver figure out its quarterback situation, which has been a revolving door since Manning’s retirement following Super Bowl 50.
What Aaron Rodgers has said about Nathaniel Hackett
Broncos fans will be happy to know that Hackett comes with the endorsement of Rodgers. The veteran quarterback praised Hackett’s coaching chops in an appearance on The Pat McAfee Show in mid-January, as Hackett became a candidate for several coaching jobs.
“This is a little overdue, to be honest,” Rodgers said of Hackett drawing interview requests for coaching jobs. “He’s been around the game a long time. What he did in Jacksonville, I think, was pure magic, getting them within a quarter of the Super Bowl. He’s a great coach. I love spending time with him. He’s a fantastic teacher. He’s incredible in front of the room.”
That backs up what Rodgers had previously said about Hackett in October. He told The Washington Post that Hackett gave “legendary” presentations that helped Rodgers and the Packers stay engaged during the week.
“He finds ways every single week to come up with new cool ideas,” Rodgers said. “He’s got infectious energy. He’s hilarious.”
Rodgers was blunt and candid during the entire 2021 NFL season. As such, his endorsement of Hackett certainly carries weight as Hackett looks to connect to the Broncos players.
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