The Jets have their new offensive play caller. Next up: finding their quarterback.
Former Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett was hired Thursday as the Jets’ offensive coordinator to replace Mike LaFleur after coach Robert Saleh interviewed more than 15 candidates for the vacancy during the last two weeks.
“When it came back to a certain checklist that I was trying to go through," Saleh said during a video call, "just checking boxes with regard to what we were looking for from this next offensive coordinator, we just kept circling back to him.
“He checks every box that we're looking for.”
The hiring Hackett, 43, fuels speculation about whether the Jets could pursue Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers, whose playing future is uncertain. Hackett and Rodgers have a connection: Hackett served as the Packers’ offensive coordinator from 2019-21 with Rodgers as the quarterback.
Rodgers said recently during his weekly appearance on “The Pat McAfee Show” on SiriusXM and YouTube he believes he can still play at an MVP-type level in the right situation. But the four-time MVP hasn’t decided whether to return to the Packers, retire or request a trade.
Saleh said during the interview process that he and Hackett didn’t discuss specific quarterbacks. The Jets coach had said he was looking for an experienced play-caller to replace LaFleur, who was a first-time offensive coordinator.
“Everybody's got a connection to everybody in this league," Saleh said. "The most important thing was finding a guy who could continue developing our young guys at a very high level, a guy who has done it before and a guy who's had success in this league with a variety of different quarterbacks.”
Hackett went 4-11 in less than one season as head coach of the Broncos, who fired him a day after Denver’s 51-14 loss to the Rams on Christmas. Hackett, who has helped lead three top-10 scoring offenses as a coordinator, replaced Vic Fangio last January. But he wasn’t able to build an offense that suited veteran Russell Wilson with the Broncos.