New York Jets fans should’ve had a much better time this past NFL season than they actually did. Aaron Rodgers ran onto the field with the American flag to the loudest roar maybe ever in MetLife Stadium. Then, the trash turf laid on that field popped his Achilles tendon during his first series.
From there, it was a disaster of epic proportions for the moribund franchise.
But as much of a good-vibe hang as Rodgers appeared to be with his new teammates, he bears no small part of the blame for Gang Green’s downfall in 2023. And I’m not talking about his injury. I’m talking about the exorbitant amount of power and influence he wielded for a desperate football operation that demanded zero accountability. The only reason offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett was employed after a disastrous less-than-one-and-done stint as the Broncos; head coach was because he was best buds with Rodgers. That’s how wide receivers Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb made it to New York, too.
Anyone with a brain could see how bad Hackett was as a play-caller. All along, I’ve clung to the belief that Hackett can’t scheme his way out of a paper bag, and that Rodgers often checks out of whatever numb-skull play call Hackett dials up anyway. Imagine my relief and delight when a deep-dive investigative piece by The Athletic‘s Zack Rosenblatt and Dianna Russini confirmed these suspicions beyond my wildest conjecture.
How did the Jets' season go so wrong?
◽️A paranoid head coach ◽️Excuse-making ◽️A QB that rubbed some teammates wrong@ZackBlatt and @DMRussini spoke to 30 sources in and around the organization to better understand their failed season.
In addition to one Jets coach plainly stating, “it’s suck a f*cking mess…something has to change,” we got so many juicy tidbits about just how diabolically moronic Hackett was behind the scenes. Let’s just look into how much effort Hackett made in constructing the offense. Or, oops, sorry, how Hackett deferred to Rodgers to create the offense himself and clung to him as a “frat brother” than a coach, as the report puts it.
“‘That’s what Aaron wants’ was a common refrain from Hackett as he told coaches what plays he wanted to run during camp. Often, Rodgers would hear Hackett’s play call and want something else, so the entire offense would reset.
“Long before a litany of injuries along the offensive line (the Jets used 13 different starting combinations in 17 games), New York’s talented defensive line consistently outplayed them in practice. Growing pains were expected in a new offense full of new personnel, but one coach said it was concerning how little urgency Hackett and his staff showed in trying to fix it, saying he’d never seen a team watch less practice tape in training camp than the Jets did with Hackett.”
Once Rodgers went down, not only did “key decision-makers” in the building not think Joe Flacco was an upgrade over Zach Wilson or Tim Boyle, but Hackett refused to adjust the scheme for another QB.
“Multiple coaches and players described Hackett as lacking in attention to detail. For most of the season, Hackett would meet with offensive line coach/running game coordinator Keith Carter and passing game coordinator Todd Downing during the week but wouldn’t get together with the rest of the offensive staff until the ‘last minute’ of game prep.
During games, Hackett struggled to make adjustments. Against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 2, Carter asked Hackett to give left tackle Duane Brown more help blocking Cowboys star pass rusher Micah Parsons, according to multiple team sources. But Hackett never adjusted, and Parsons dominated (two sacks, four QB hits) in a 30-10 loss.”
Can you imagine one of your colleagues on a coaching staff identifying a clear problem, bringing it to your attention, and then simply not doing anything about it, only continuing to watch a dumpster fire unfold as your backup QB gets repeatedly obliterated by one of the sport’s premier pass-rushers? That is Exhibit A, nay the textbook definition, nay the paragon, nay the epitome, nay the apotheosis of coaching malpractice.
What a f*cking clown. I thought the Carolina Panthers were a carnival of a clown show of a catastrophe of a franchise. This sycophantic, bleeding-knee Rodgers genuflecting is legit out of control, out of this world, and is keeping a hapless, worthless schmuck like Nat Hackett gainfully employed.
The Athletic‘s report also states that head coach Robert Saleh — it’s his birthday today, Happy Birthday Bob! — is already looking at adding to the offensive staff so he can diminish Hackett’s role in 2024. I’m sure this detail won’t irk Aaron Rodgers at all. Not toxic in the slightest… What a fun workplace it must be for the Jets, especially when Saleh is playing the blame game and getting paranoid about who’s leaking what!
Robert Saleh’s battle cry as the Jets’ losses piled up and criticism mounted:
You know who wasn’t having much fun by the end of it all? Zach Wilson. Never in a million years did I think I’d be defending this guy. The Jets’ plan for him was a failure from Day 1. Rodgers’ mentorship clearly helped Wilson take strides, yet he could only do so much behind a sh*t show offensive line and a total bozo of a play-caller in Hackett.
Never mind the fact that Saleh told Wilson he’d deactivate him the rest of the season in Week 12 in favor of Tim Boyle, whose prowess I’ve covered extensively. Boyle was so dreadful that Saleh, flailing amid questions about his job security, panic-pivoted back to Wilson one week later (or tried to). A 180 like that would make anybody’s head spin. This latest report confirms that it was true that Wilson didn’t want to play anymore at that point.
Then, all of this happened (reportedly, definitely)…
“He expressed reluctance about returning to play and said he would politely decline if asked, based on his previous conversation with Saleh and fears of getting injured behind the Jets’ makeshift offensive line. Saleh asked Rodgers to speak with Wilson, to convince the young quarterback to change his mind, according to team sources. That didn’t work either. Wilson’s feelings about his idol soured over the season.
[…] As Rodgers was pushing the limits of torn Achilles rehab, determined to return in a little over three months — an unprecedented recovery time for that injury — Wilson, along with some Jets teammates and coaches, grew tired of the way Saleh fawned over Rodgers, according to team sources. […] Wilson told coaches and teammates he was under the impression he’d have a direct line to Rodgers, even after Rodgers tore his Achilles and flew home to California for surgery in the early stages of his rehab. Instead, Wilson barely heard from him.
It was only after The Athletic reported about Wilson’s hesitance that he went into Saleh’s office to say he’d start against the Houston Texans that week if asked. He did, and had the best game of his career, out-dueling star rookie C.J. Stroud in a surprising 30-6 win — before suffering a concussion the next week that ended his season.”
To be honest, the Kliff Kingsbury-Kyler Murray Cardinals disaster I covered in December 2022 pales in comparison to this monstrosity. Aaron Rodgers forced his way out of Green Bay to do this? Look, the hilarious thing is that if Rodgers had stayed healthy, played well, and led the Jets to the playoffs, all the nonsense about Hackett would’ve never seen the light of day. The Jets wouldn’t have sabotaged Wilson’s development and trajectory as a professional more than they already had.
Winning covers up all the warts in the NFL. That’s really true in any professional sport. But once things go south, people show you who they really are. The NFL in particular is a high-stakes, big-money, results-driven pressure cooker not for the faint of heart. I actually have more respect for Zach Wilson today than I think I’ve ever had.
It’s amazing that the Jets are running it back with the same coaching staff. You know what’s great, too? Owner Woody Johnson was actively on Twitter, relaying messages to Saleh about how bad the offense was and what about it specifically wasn’t working, per this report. I guess somebody had to point the flaws out.
This is hilarious
"Johnson is known around the building for being active on Twitter, consuming criticism from fans and media alike. According to team sources, Johnson often shared those opinions with Saleh in conversations about what wasn’t working on offense."
Keyboard warriors on Twitter were more willing to adjust the New York Jets’ scheme or hold it to something resembling a professional standard than Nathaniel Hackett! That much we now know for a fact! I can’t believe the last two sentences I just typed. Actually, I can. Because this is the type of sh*t Aaron Rodgers lets slide — and is exactly the type of bullsh*t Rodgers said needed to be flushed from the organization to build a winning culture.
The Jets will either have one season of success and flame out, or they’ll just implode in 2024. Either way, unless it results in a Super Bowl, the Rodgers experiment will have been a most egregious failure.