After Sean Payton's scathing review of the 2022 Denver Broncos was released to the world through an outstanding piece put together by Jarrett Bell of USA Today, it was merely a matter of time before former Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett would have his chance at ultimate revenge and vindication. After being fired by the new ownership group the day after Christmas, Hackett had already seemingly been embarrassed enough.
He became one of a very short list of head coaches to get fired before the end of their first year on the job. Broncos ownership minced no words about the embarrassment of that Christmas Day game against the Rams. It was well-documented that the 2022 Denver Broncos were one of the worst teams in franchise history and an embarrassment to the legacy of the franchise.
It wasn't required of Sean Payton to say what he did, but even if you disagree with the tactfulness of his comments to Jarrett Bell, you can't argue the fact that it felt good for someone who was previously on the outside looking in to give fans what they deserve: An honest assessment of who was to blame. We always hear about how there's plenty of blame to go around, so-and-so did the best they could, etc.
We hear enough of the pre-written stuff, so it was nice to hear an honest review of what transpired last year, even if it meant Nathaniel Hackett having to take the brunt of the criticism.
And so, it was also understandable that Hackett was fired up after the New York Jets beat the Denver Broncos a handful of weeks ago. The Jets definitely had that one circled on their calendar, and even without Aaron Rodgers playing, they were able to beat the Broncos by a final score of 31-21 thanks to a defensive touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
And there it was. Vindication for Nathaniel Hackett. The Jets rallied around the bulletin board material, and to their credit, they went out and got a win.
They won that battle, but the Jets are coming under some serious fire for their offensive operation as of late.
The Jets are averaging an astonishing 16.5 points per game this season, even lower than the putrid 16.9 points per game the Broncos averaged last season. There is a common denominator here, and it's not Russell Wilson. The common denominator is obviously Nathaniel Hackett, whose operation lacks efficiency or even competence when it comes to execution.
At this point, it feels like Nathaniel Hackett was vindicated after that win against Denver, if only temporarily, while Sean Payton is also being vindicated for his comments. At the very least, the same Jets fans who came down on Payton for the way he commented on Hackett's coaching job last season are saying the same or even worse things now that they're seeing the way this offense has been performing.
Is there not a code of hypocrisy being broken anywhere in that regard, by the way?
The New York Jets offense has scored nine touchdowns in nine games this year. Their issues in terms of the operation looking ugly all-around seem all too familiar with what we heard and saw most of last season.
Even Aaron Rodgers acknowledged on the Pat McAfee Show that, "Offensively, we're just not doing our part."
Troy Aikman, the color commentator for the Monday Night Football broadcast, had a huge rant about the Denver Broncos' offense last season when they finally got the chance to call a Denver game. It was all Aikman and Joe Buck could do during the Monday night broadcast this past week not to dog on Hackett as a play-caller. They did everything but call him out by name as the reason this operation looks so ugly from moving the ball to penalties, missed blocking assignments, no pass protection, dropped passes, and obviously a lack of scoring to support the outstanding Jets' defense. He went on a very similar rant on Monday when the Jets took on the Los Angeles Chargers:
Just listen to the similarities between what Aikman says about the 2023 Jets offense there and here with the 2022 Broncos offense...
And so, we see the same exact issues that were happening in Denver last year when Nathaniel Hackett didn't have Aaron Rodgers now happening again, almost verbatim, with the New York Jets. Injuries happen, but we saw Kevin O'Connell coach the Minnesota Vikings to a win this past weekend with Josh Dobbs not even knowing his teammates' names. And they put up 31 points.
Zach Wilson is plenty to blame, but Nathaniel Hackett was given this mass defense by football people everywhere after Sean Payton's scathing comments, and now it appears as though everyone is starting to slowly (or not) agree with Payton.