What Did Sean Payton Say About Nathaniel Hackett? Jets Players Want ‘Payback’

New York Jets players want "payback" for their offensive coordinator, Nathaniel Hackett, after comments made by Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton.

The Denver Broncos will take on the New York Jets this afternoon, and tensions may still be high between Sean Payton and Nathaniel Hackett.

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The History Between Sean Payton and Nathaniel Hackett

Hackett, former Broncos coach, is the fifth head coach since the 1970 NFL merger to not make it through a full season. He was fired by the Broncos last season after starting 4-11.

Payton has taken over in Denver after a year away from coaching. The idea was that he would be able to turn the team around, but we have yet to see signs of that happening. Going into Week 5, the Broncos look bad — worse than under Hackett, who started 2-1 last season before things went downhill.

There is no doubt that Payton has coaching talent, as he led the Saints to a championship in 2009. But Russell Wilson still looks far from his form in Seattle, and things just aren’t turning around in Denver.

The rough start to the season is a particularly bad look for Payton due to comments he made in July about Hackett’s coaching ability.

Payton took shots at Hackett, saying his time in Denver was “one of the worst coaching jobs in the history of the NFL,” during an interview with USA Today. “Everything I heard about last season, we’re doing the opposite,” he added.

Payton later said he regretted his remarks.

“There’s a pound of flesh for these guys, and as a coach, you stick up for them, and after a while, we’re past that season last year, and, you know, I said what I said. Obviously, I needed a little bit more restraint, and I regret that,” he said.

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Despite the public apology, Hackett said he has not spoken to Payton since he made those comments, much less received a personal apology.

“Let’s put it this way, everyone. This game is about those guys out on that field,” Hackett said Monday.

“This game is not about me. It’s about me helping them during the week. But I just want the guys to go out there and play a great game. That’s all we’re looking for. And what has happened is in the past. We all move forward. Coaches definitely just focus on trying to get the guys in the best positions, and that’s what we’re doing right now.”

Jets Players Stick Up for Hackett

Neither team has had a particularly good start to the season, with both sitting at a 1-3 record. The Broncos suffered a historic loss in Week 3, allowing a whopping 70 points to the Miami Dolphins. The Jets have struggled after losing Aaron Rodgers for the season and turning to Zach Wilson.

Both teams showed signs of growth in Week 4, with both quarterbacks turning in solid performances. Russell Wilson completed 75% of passing attempts for 223 yards and three touchdowns, while Zach Wilson played one of the best games of his career — completing 71.8% of his passes for 245 yards and two touchdowns.

Stakes are high going into the Week 5 matchup, and while Hackett made minimal comments about the situation this week, Jets center Connor McGovern defended the offensive coordinator.

“He got thrown under the bus — and then they tried to drag him under the bus,” McGovern told ESPN. “We wanted to rally around him from the start. He’s such a good guy … he’s definitely a guy that you want to play hard for. Then to go to a place that was dogging a guy that’s so nice and so good at his job, and for him to get thrown under the bus and dragged through the mud, you definitely want to play that much harder.”

McGovern added that the Broncos organization “did (Hackett) dirty,” and he wants to allow Hackett to get “payback.”

Jets tackle Alijah Vera-Tucker echoed the sentiments.

“We rally behind Hack, regardless,” Vera-Tucker said. “I think this week there may be a little bigger chip on some of the guys’ shoulders just because the comments that were made before.”

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