Nathaniel Hackett Responds to Sean Payton Criticism: Broncos HC Violated a ‘Code’

Nathaniel Hackett had something to say about Sean Payton's recent criticism. Here's how the New York Jets offensive coordinator responded on Tuesday.

Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton turned many heads in the NFL world last week when he criticized former Broncos HC and current New York Jets offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett by name in an interview with USA Today. Addressing the issue on Tuesday, Hackett mostly took the high road but suggested Payton broke a “code” among NFL coaches by blasting his tenure in Denver.

Nathaniel Hackett Addresses Criticism From Sean Payton

Payton went nuclear on Hackett and the 2022 Broncos in last week’s interview, noting that Hackett might have conducted “one of the worst coaching jobs in the history of the NFL” last season. Hackett led Denver to a disastrous 4-11 record before being fired with two games remaining in the regular season.

“There’s 20 dirty hands for what was allowed, tolerated in the fricking training rooms, the meeting rooms,” Payton said. “The offense. I don’t know Hackett. A lot of people had dirt on their hands. It wasn’t just Russell (Wilson). He didn’t just flip. He still has it. This B.S. that he hit a wall? Shoot, they couldn’t get a play in. They were 29th in the league in pre-snap penalties on both sides of the ball.”

Hackett, who reunited with Aaron Rodgers by joining the Jets as offensive coordinator this offseason, responded to Payton on Tuesday.

“As a coach, you know, as a coach’s kid, you know, we live in a glass house. We know that we all live in different rooms,” Hackett said. “We all got a key for it, and it’s one of those things that there’s a code, there’s a way things are done in that house, and, you know, this past week, it’s frustrating, and it sucks.

“But, we’re all susceptible to it, the things that you do, mistakes you make, and it costs you time on the field, cost you your job all those things, and I own all that stuff. I mean, it’s that fact I got no excuses.”

Hackett is correct that most NFL coaches would never dare criticize another coach publicly. Rodgers, who has called Hackett his favorite coach of his career, agreed this week.

“I thought it was way out of line, inappropriate, and I think he needs to keep my coach’s name out of his mouth,” Rodgers said.

Payton has since apologized publicly, calling the episode a “learning experience” and a “mistake.” However, Hackett said Payton has not called him to atone for his comments personally.

The Jets are unlikely to forget his comments any time soon, especially with a Week 5 New York-Denver matchup on the 2023 slate.

“I own all those things, and it’s unfortunate that that had to happen, that the comments that were made,” Hackett said. “But hey, they did. I’ll tell you, I was probably more surprised that they happen now — was definitely expecting them in Week 5.

“So I’m almost thankful that we got that out of the way. We all understand where certain people feel and think, and I’ll tell you, you can always look at that silver lining and man, this organization, these players, the coaches, just the entire organization … everybody has been unbelievable.”

It’s not as if the Jets need any more motivation for the upcoming season. They’re all-in as Super Bowl contenders after adding Rodgers to a roster that already included one of the league’s best defenses.

But if Payton’s comments create even more of an incentive for the Jets this season, Gang Green might not be all that upset that the new Broncos coach couldn’t hold back.

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