The Broncos became the first of nine NFL teams with coaching vacancies to hire a head coach. On Thursday morning, it was reported that the team had agreed to bring in Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett to replace Vic Fangio.
Hackett has 13 years of NFL experience and has been an offensive coordinator in eight of his last nine seasons in the league. He has been in Green Bay for three seasons, working alongside 2020 MVP Aaron Rodgers and helping Matt LaFleur lead the Packers to 13 wins in those three years.
Now Hackett will bring his talents to Denver in hopes of turning around a Broncos offense that had been lackluster under Fangio, who went 7-10 in his final season with the team and 19-30 overall.
Hackett was considered one of the favorites to land the Broncos job, but why did the team ultimately pick him? Here’s what you need to know about the first major hire of the 2022 NFL coaching carousel.
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Why did the Broncos sign Nathaniel Hackett?
The Broncos are signing Hackett for one simple reason, because NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo.
“The Broncos are signing Nathaniel Hackett because they like Nathaniel Hackett,” Garafolo said on NFL Network’s “Good Morning Football.” “They like his energy. They like his intelligence. They like everything they’ve heard about him.”
It’s easy to see why the Broncos would like him. The team’s offense has been lackluster since Peyton Manning retired after the 2015 season and they’ve gone through 10 different starting quarterbacks since then, excluding the game where Kendall Hinton and Phillip Lindsay had to play the position.
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Meanwhile, Hackett has led three top-10 offenses during his eight years as the NFL’s offensive coordinator. Most notably, he helped Blake Bortles put together the best season of his career in 2017 and led Jacksonville to a top-five offense that year. They narrowly missed reaching the Super Bowl, but lost in the fourth quarter of the AFC Championship Game to the Patriots.
In Green Bay, Hackett has helped Aaron Rodgers reach the next level. He won the 2020 NFL MVP and could win the award again in 2021. Rodgers was impressed with Hackett and even called him up to endorse him for coaching jobs in the past, as Garafolo detailed.
“Aaron Rodgers hasn’t been shy about answering the phone,” Garafolo said. “Peter Schrager mentioned at the last minute that he called the Falcons and said last year, ‘This is the guy you should hire.’ Rodgers has also been publicly enthused about Hackett.”
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In particular, Rodgers has praised Hackett for his energy, wit, and his ability to relate to players and make them laugh. This will certainly turn heads, considering Rodgers may be leaving Green Bay this offseason, but whether the Broncos are a candidate to sign Rodgers or not, they really like Hackett.
“The Broncos are hiring Hackett because they think they have a great head coach,” Garafolo said. “If they get Aaron Rodgers on top of that, great.”
For those wondering why the Broncos decided to sign Hackett nowNFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reports that talks between Hackett and Denver “heated up” during their second interview. Hackett was scheduled to meet with the Jaguars for the second time, but the Broncos didn’t want to risk losing him.
Contract talks heated up Wednesday night. The #jaguars planned to interview Hackett again today. Instead, Denver gets its first choice.
-Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) January 27, 2022
As such, Hackett became the first hired head coach of the 2022 NFL offseason.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.