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The Jets hiring of Nathaniel Hackett was puzzling and should not lead to a trade for Aaron Rodgers

Dear Lord, here we go again

NFL: Denver Broncos at Baltimore Ravens Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

I didn’t think the Jets would do this, hire a retread coach the same season (which is not even over) he is fired to lead the team’s offense.

I realize we saw this with Adam Gase four years ago, but we all know that was because he was an “offensive genius” like many of the newspapers wrote (with the nudging of Jets brass).

It’s another feeble attempt to show Jets nation that management is looking to make the the team into a winner. In reality they are hurting themselves.

The situation is so close in comparison it’s incredible. For those of you who noticed I applaud you. Gase was a horrible coach everywhere he was but had great success with Peyton Manning. It was Gase in 2013, the “great leader” who brought along the fledgling Peyton Manning to a record breaking season even though he fell to the Seahawks in the Super Bowl in a 43-8 blowout loss. Gase stayed as offensive coordinator in 2014 only to lose again; this time in the Divisional Round. Once Gase left in 2015 it was Rick Dennison who came in as offensive coordinator to help that pathetic Peyton Manning win Super Bowl 50 to a 24-10 against the Carolina Panthers.

Now the Jets have brought in Nathaniel Hackett who must have a four-leaf clover in his pocket to be lucky enough to become an offensive coordinator again so soon. Let’s check out his resume as an offensive coordinator in the NFL. Hackett was the OC in Buffalo (You know he didn’t win a Super Bowl there.) where his team was 6-10 and ranked 22nd in offense out of the 32 NFL teams. In 2014 they improved to 9-7 with the Bills ranked 18th out of 32 teams. This is while the defense was shutting down other teams ranking 4th in the league defensively.

His head coach (Doug Marrone) opted out of his contract and went to Jacksonville as an offensive line coach (a position he excelled at in the past). Hackett followed. He was originally a QB coach but became the OC in mid 2016 when Gus Bradley was fired, and Marrone took over as head coach. In 2016 the Jags were 25th in scoring. In 2017 behind the league’s #2 defense the offense was 5th in points scored with Leonard Fournette at running back and an above average Blake Bortles at quarterback.

Naturally the next season proved that was a mirage. The defense was still more than solid (4th in the league), but the offense fell apart. They finished #31 out of 32 teams. Hackett didn’t even make it to the end of the season because he was fired by Doug Marrone on November 26 after a 3-8 start.

Of course with his lucky four-leaf clover in his pocket Hackett was again hired as offensive coordinator by coach Matt LaFleur less than 2 months later by the Green Bay Packers. That year the Packers made it the Conference Championship despite being only 15th best out of 32 teams in offense. The following year the Packers were #1 in offense with Aaron Rodgers having a career year throwing 48 TDs and only 5 INTs. Sadly they loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Conference Championship Game after beating them on the road 38-10 earlier in the year.

In 2021 the Packers had regressed to #10 in offense despite Rodgers having another sensational year, 4,115 yards, 37 TDs and 4 INTs. This of course made the Denver Broncos believe that Hackett was the right head coach.

What then happened in Denver could be considered a catastrophe. After a 2-1 start (one win against the Texans) the Broncos lost 9 of their next 10 games despite having a rather stout defense (14th). Their offense was worst in the league (#32). Hackett didn’t make it the entire year. He was let go after a 51-14 Christmas day loss to a hapless LA Rams team missing most of its key players. Hackett became the 5th head coach in history to be not make a single season with the team. The first of course was Lou Holtz of the Jets back in 1976.

In the aftermath, the Hackett offense has called into question the Hall of Fame qualifications of Russell Wilson. Wilson was a shoo-in in 1st ballot Hall of Fame player before this stint with Denver. He has nine Pro Bowl selections in 10 seasons; he is 4th All-Time in passer rating and 13th in TD passes. The has a Super Bowl ring (with another appearance) plus eight Playoff teams he was the driving force behind.

Geno Smith, his replacement, excelled in a great season in Seattle when every football prognosticator predicted he would fail. Wilson struggled mightily in Denver with a quality defense and offensive weapons.

The questions to the Jets hierarchy about choosing Hackett:

  1. Did it not resonate that Hackett had such quality around him and did so little?
  2. Where has Hackett made an offense consistently better in his career? Not just for one season. I’m talking over a multiyear stretch.
  3. If the Jets believe so much in Zach Wilson (like they said) where has Hackett ever developed a young QB? What special insights does he have to make you think he would turn the light on?

The fourth question is whether the Jets are somehow looking to trade for Aaron Rodgers.

So let’s look at that.

At first glance you would think sure the Jets are going to go after Aaron Rodgers. Everything they have done points to that. They hired Hackett despite no qualifications on developing young players. The Jets have been quiet on their plans with Zach Wilson only saying they want to bring in a veteran QB.

Yet if you look at it another way it is typical Jets upper management foolishness.

Hackett has no connection to Aaron Rodgers now at all. He was a head coach in Denver. He is now part of the Jets. Aaron Rodgers was a first ballot Hall of Famer before Hackett arrived in Green Bay, and he still is when he left. It’s not like Aaron Rodgers would be so happy to have a chance to work with Hackett. Rodgers would be the same player he was as long as you gave him a viable offensive system with some offensive weapons. Aaron Rodgers is under contract with the Green Bay Packers. They hold his rights. If someone from another team would talk to him about a trade or wanting him on their team they would be charged with tampering. You can’t do that so they have no idea what Rodgers really thinks.

Even if the Packers wanted to trade Rodgers for a couple of 1st round and a 2nd round picks they would incur over $40 million in dead cap space. Sure there are ways they could stretch it out over multiple years, but it would still be there.

Now consider why the Jets would want to trade all that to the Packers for Aaron Rodgers.

The easy answer is they shouldn’t. Yet this is the Jets. They have no fail safe to stop them from doing something incredibly stupid. Joe Douglas had a great Draft in 2022, maybe the best Jets draft of all time. He is still under the gun because he has made so many mistakes, especially with an offensive line where he said he was going to prioritize.

He has made other significant mistakes. These are coaching decisions, free agent decisions, and other with personnel issues.

It seems like now Douglas has been given some ultimatums. The wise move here is to continue to build the team’s talent base. Fix the offensive line, add some more offensive weapons, and get some new blood on the 2nd and 3rd levels of the defense. Continue to build your team until even a middle of the road QB can get you to the promised land. Philly won a SB with Nick Foles at QB, LA won with a beat up Matthew Stafford.

Now people want the Jets to sell the farm, trade for Aaron Rodgers to chase a Playoff berth.

Rodgers doesn’t have a no trade clause in his contract, but you know it doesn’t make a difference. If Rodgers decides he doesn’t want to be traded to a certain team then he could just retire. Besides because of cap issues Rodgers couldn’t be traded until after June 1st. Are the Jets going to wait that long? What if they decide to do that, and Rodgers changes his mind in the mean time?

In recent interview Rodgers gave up this little nugget: “All the trade stuff is conjecture until I decide what I want to do moving forward for myself.”

It’s interesting to note that Rodgers had a poor year in 2022. His DVOA ranked 25th in the league just ahead of the Jets Mike White who was #26. Rodgers has definitely regressed as a player. Ye is now 39 years old, and the years have taken a toll. Even his demeanor has changed. He doesn’t have that same vibe to him anymore. 2022 was his worst year in the past 15. Now he may be moving teams. The Packers would be selling high on a player who isn’t the same guy he was even 5 years ago.

It’s interesting what Rodgers said about Zach Wilson in that same interview: Wilson is “super talented, I think a little humility is good for all of us at various times in our careers. … I hope that whoever they decide to go with at coordinator can work with him and break down a lot of fundamentals for him and get him playing on time. I think he’s talented enough to have a long career in the league.”

Of course if Aaron Rodgers is up for sale by the Packers there will be a lot of teams looking to make a trade. The Raiders have his favorite receiver in Devante Adams ,and Rodgers had his worst season without him. The Raiders are getting rid of Derek Carr so they will be all in on any Rodgers trade. Also there are the Ravens (with a solid roster). Of course the Dolphins have all the offensive talent Rodgers would love. Plus in Miami it’s not cold like Green Bay. The tax situation is much better in Florida rather than New York.

There are a handful of other teams as well, but you know for sure that any trade goes through Aaron Rodgers. He will decide where he goes. That’s why he said (about a possible trade from Green Bay) “If they feel like it was in the best interests of the team to move forward, so be it. Again, that wouldn’t offend me, and it wouldn’t make me feel like a victim. I wouldn’t have any animosity towards the team. I love the organization, I love the city, I love the region. … I have a lot of love for what’s gone on in Green Bay. And I’d love to finish there, I would. I might have finished there. Who knows?”

Another thing to consider is that Rodgers has an adverse relationship with the press. Why would he okay a trade to New York and face a million questions on everything he does on and off the field. You know in Wisconsin he is treated like a God. He wouldn’t get that treatment in New York.

This again like in so many past situations with the Jets. You have a new GM come in with a mandate. He makes foolish mistakes to start his tenure then by the end there is a disastrous attempt to rectify all the failings with a last gasp Hail Mary attempt.

There is no guarantee that a trade for Aaron Rodgers will bring the Jets anything more than what Green Bay had this year, an 8-9 record. Even if he came Aaron Rodgers wouldn’t be here long, and he would leave behind a barren mess with all the lost Draft picks.

Like I said earlier, the Jets had maybe their best Draft in 2022 in team history. If I am Joe Douglas I tune out all the media noise, say nothing but platitudes, then try to make 2023 the new greatest Draft in team history. If he does that all this will work out. Draft a QB late in the 3rd round (I currently like Clayton Tune out of Houston.) to develop and fix the offensive line. A veteran QB will come available down the road. With everyone ditching their starters there are going to be veterans to choose from.

Be the calm during the storm. It’s called leadership. It’s time for you to show some leadership, Joe. Don’t make that huge blunder like those before you that will cost the Jets dearly for years to come. Build your team the right way, just like you said you would when you were hired in the first place.

That’s what I think.

What do you think?