New York Jets Hire Nathaniel Hackett as OC: Zach Wilson Hardest Hit

The New York Jets presumably did not hire Nathaniel Hackett as OC to fix Zach Wilson. A more plausible theory: Hackett is there to lure Aaron Rodgers.

Lots of luck, Zach Wilson. The New York Jets‘ decision to hire Nathaniel Hackett as their new offensive coordinator has no conceivably good outcome for Wilson, the former No. 2 overall pick.

Either Hackett is a carrot to lure Aaron Rodgers from Green Bay, or the Jets truly believe he’s the guy to fix a broken offense and a broken quarterback.

Did they talk to Russell Wilson? Or at least throw on the Denver Broncos game tape from 2022?

New York Jets Hire Nathaniel Hackett

Jets coach Robert Saleh said the following Thursday about the Hackett hire:

“We casted a wide net, like we said we were going to. We got well over 15 different candidates for this position. Went to colleges, went to different schemes, talked to different people. A lot of really, really good football coaches out there. But when it came back to a certain checklist I was trying to go through, checking boxes on what we were looking for with regards to this next offensive coordinator, just kept circling back to him. He checks every box we’re looking for. Really, really excited about this.”

Hackett lasted all of 15 games as an NFL head coach — and to be frank, those were 15 games too many.

He was overmatched from an X’s and O’s standpoint. He was overmatched from a game-management standpoint. And he was seemingly overmatched from a player management standpoint.

Up next for Hackett: Inheriting a dreadful offense and even worse quarterback on a team with playoff expectations in the nation’s No. 1 TV market.

What could go wrong?

Hackett, 43, is now an NFL offensive coordinator for the fourth time — a total that doesn’t include his time in Denver, where he called plays.

Hopes were high just six months ago after an offseason in which the Broncos paired a perceived rising coaching star with a likely future Hall of Fame quarterback.

The Broncos were a chic Super Bowl pick. They finished 14th in the standings out of the 16-team AFC. And the offense was the reason why.

Denver finished last in scoring (16.9 points per game) and third-down conversion rate (29.1%). Russell Wilson had by far his worst season as a pro, setting career lows in touchdown rate (3.3%), adjusted yards per attempt (6.9), passer rating (84.4), and QBR (37).

In other words, Hackett took a Pro Bowl player and turned him into a bottom-five quarterback.

What’s he going to do with an actual bottom-five quarterback?

Does Zach Wilson Have a Prayer?

Many in New York believe the Jets are done with Wilson, even if he’s on their roster in 2023.

Wilson has been a disaster. He completed 54.5% of his passes in 2022, throwing a touchdown just once every 40 attempts.

Wilson had zero feel for the game, and it should surprise no one that he ranked last out of 34 qualifying quarterbacks in passer rating (72.8) and was near the bottom in QBR (36.4) as well.

In other words, Wilson is untradeable. But he’d cost $11 million more against the cap to cut him than keep him. So Wilson will get every opportunity to prove he’s an actual NFL quarterback this spring and summer.

But the Jets would be foolish to simply cross their fingers and hope Wilson makes a Year 3 jump. And they won’t.

The belief throughout all levels of football is that the Jets will look to upgrade at quarterback this offseason. And the Hackett hire might hint at their intentions.

Aaron Rodgers to Jets?

Hackett might be a pariah in Denver, but he’s got a big advocate in Rodgers, who has made not-so-subtle suggestions since the season’s end that he’d entertain a trade out of Green Bay.

Hackett was the Packers’ OC (although not the play-caller) from 2019 through 2021, and Rodgers has been on record about his respect and fondness for him.

The Packers from 2019 through 2021 hummed offensively, particularly in 2020, when they ranked second in yards per play and first in offensive touchdowns per game.

MORE: Offensive Tackle Prospects for the New York Jets in the 2023 NFL Draft

Put another way: What we think of Nate Hackett as a coach is meaningless compared to what Rodgers thinks of Nate Hackett as a coach.

Perhaps the hire will be enough to convince Rodgers to strong-arm the Packers into trading him to New York. That would be a huge coup for the Jets, who would be a trendy Super Bowl pick.

But it would also be a career-altering development for Wilson — assuming he still has much of a career left at all.

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