Nathaniel Hackett was a man in demand. The Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator was contacted by at least four teams about their head coach vacancies. While his name has become more and more familiar, the man might not be to the vast majority of NFL fans. So who is Nathaniel Hackett, the man who is now the new Denver Broncos head coach?
OFFICIAL: We’ve agreed to terms with Nathaniel Hackett to be our next head coach. 😎
📰 » https://t.co/JLNtu4HRHy pic.twitter.com/fsadmbJAeP
— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) January 27, 2022
Get to know Denver head coach Nathaniel Hackett
Hackett, 42, has the endorsement of Aaron Rodgers and the experience that many of the others in this coaching cycle do not. But there’s far more to Hackett that you’ll read in any team-produced bio.
Hackett’s coaching background
Nathaniel Hackett was born to be a football coach. His dad, Paul Hackett, coached 42 years in college and the NFL, serving as the head coach at the University of Pittsburgh from 1989-1992 and Southern Cal from 1998-2000. But unlike his dad, Nathaniel has a real chance to be an NFL head coach — and has done so by building his own impressive résumé.
Nathaniel’s college stops included Stanford and Syracuse (where he was the offensive coordinator under Doug Marrone). But he’s spent the majority of his career in the NFL. He’s worked for the Buccaneers, Bills, Jaguars, and now the Packers, serving as offensive coordinator for the last three on this list.
Hackett has a proven track record of building a dominant ground attack. That includes the 2017 campaign, when the run game and a surprisingly effective Blake Bortles carried the Jaguars to the AFC title game.
But Hackett is much more than a football guy. He’s a renaissance man, as this Washington Post profile from October illustrates. He majored in neurobiology at UC Davis, wanted to be a professional hip-hop dancer (no, really), has the palette of a sommelier, and seems like a really, really cool guy to spend an afternoon with.
How Hackett performed in 2021
But Hackett isn’t a hot name this coaching cycle because he knows the difference between a Pinot Gris and a Sauv Blanc. He’s also a good coach who probably doesn’t get the attention he deserves because he doesn’t call the offensive plays in Green Bay. Head coach Matt LaFleur does.
But Hackett is the staff’s “glue guy” who plays a huge part in crafting the game plan and putting Rodgers in a position to thrive. Rodgers is basically a lock to win his second-straight MVP award — something he never did before Hackett arrived — and led the NFL in touchdown-interception ratio, QBR, and passer rating this year.
In 2021, Green Bay ranked in the top 10 in scoring (26.5), yards (365.6), yards per play (5.8), passing (253.8), yards per pass (7.3), interception rate (1.2%), sack rate (5.6%), third-down conversions (43.6%), fourth-down conversions (59.1%), and time of possession (32:43).
What they’re saying about Hackett
“I’m excited for him. I think if I was a team out there that had a vacancy, I would absolutely want to get him in a room. I just think there’s so many great qualities about him. First and foremost, it starts with who he is as a man. He’s a man of the highest integrity. He treats people the right way, and then I think he just cares about people. Not only the other coaches on our staff, but the players. The players feel that. The players know that.” — Packers coach Matt LaFleur, late 2021
“There’s nobody in the building that brings me more joy or is more fun to be around than Nathaniel Hackett. He’s become such a close confidant and friend besides a fantastic coach. I just really, really can’t express enough how important he is to our team in so many ways.” — Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Nov. 2020