Nathaniel Hackett was hired as offensive coordinator of the New York Jets, his first landing spot since being fired as head coach of the Denver Broncos in December.
One of at least 14 candidates the Jets interviewed for the post, Hackett, 43, was offensive coordinator of the Green Bay Packers from 2019-21 and was named head coach of the Broncos 364 days ago.
A West Coast offense disciple, Hackett is the son of Paul Hackett, who served as Jets offensive coordinator (2001-04) under Herman Edwards.
Hackett replaces Mike LaFleur, who was fired by the Jets at the end of the regular season. Only the Indianapolis Colts (28) produced fewer than New York's 29 total touchdowns in 2022, and only the Pittsburgh Steelers (12) produced fewer touchdown passes than the Jets' 15.
Quarterback decisions are at the top of the 2023 offseason list for the Jets, who must determine whether 2021 first-round pick Zach Wilson can be the answer. If not, a basket of draft capital might be used to acquire a big-name veteran.
Speculation about Hackett's ability to help New York land Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers follows the same connecting of dots that occurred in Denver. Though he called plays for the Buffalo Bills (2013-14) and Jacksonville Jaguars (2016-18), Hackett didn't with the Packers. Instead, that was done by Green Bay head coach Matt LaFleur in Rodgers' MVP seasons in 2020 and 2021.
But the Broncos didn't end up with Rodgers, who signed a new contract with the Packers last March, and Denver's offense never got off the ground with former Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson at the controls. Other veterans in play as free agents or via trade with experience in a similar system include Jimmy Garoppolo (49ers), Derek Carr (Raiders), Baker Mayfield (Rams) and Tom Brady (Buccaneers).
Garoppolo is an unrestricted free agent with a 40-17 career record and has direct ties to Jets head coach Robert Saleh from their four seasons together in San Francisco (2017-20).
Jets owner Woody Johnson said earlier in January that he views a veteran quarterback as the "missing piece" for the franchise to get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2010.
Johnson said "full autonomy" was granted for Saleh and general manager Joe Douglas to make changes. Johnson is expected to encourage the team to hold on to Wilson, who was benched after a 10-3 loss to the New England Patriots sparked the team's stumble to a 1-7 record in the final eight games.
The Jets finished last in the AFC East for the seventh time in nine years.
Not developing a quarterback -- Mark Sanchez, Geno Smith, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Sam Darnold and Wilson had multiple seasons at the helm from 2011-22 -- continues to concern Johnson. However, he's apparently not convinced Wilson isn't the right guy.
Johnson said letting Wilson develop behind a veteran starter has been his preference from the time the Jets drafted him.
"Zach had a tough year. There's no denying that," Johnson said. "I still have confidence that I've seen some kernels of real talent there. But the confidence level ... whatever it was, went down."
Also Thursday, the Jets named Keith Carter offensive line coach and run game coordinator. Carter spent the past five seasons with the Tennessee Titans and worked with Saleh on the Seattle Seahawks' coaching staff in 2012-13.
Hackett was chosen by the Broncos to replace Vic Fangio after spending the previous three seasons with Packers. But the Broncos found themselves back in the head coach hiring pool after firing Hackett on Dec. 26, one day after an ugly 51-14 loss to the Los Angeles Rams dropped the team to 4-11.
--Field Level Media