LaFleur and Hackett Working Together Is Something to Get Excited About
The Packers continue their off-season moves to bolster a team that finished a disappointing 6-9-1 this season. The hiring of Nathaniel Hackett as new offensive coordinator on Wednesday is a controversial move that could pay off. Hackett has LaFleur’s respect – saying he is a “great fit” for the position. I think he may actually be on the right path.
Hackett has proven he can be one of the most effective play callers. In his first season as offensive coordinator in Buffalo in 2013, the Bills ranked second in the league in rushing yards per game and the team’s best in 21 years. In addition, the Bills ranked first in red-zone scoring efficiency.
Hired by the Jaguars as quarterbacks coach in 2015, Hackett was named interim offensive coordinator in 2016 and officially as offensive coordinator in January 2017. In his first season as offensive coordinator, Hackett lead a Blake Bortles and Leonard Fournette based offensive to the fifth highest scoring offense in the league and second most efficient team in the red-zone. Displaying an innovative and diverse run game, the Jaguars lead the league in rushing for the first time in franchise history.
After winning the AFC Championship in 2017, things went south for the Jaguars and Hackett suffered through a tough seasons as a play caller, mainly attributed to mediocre and inconsistent play by their quarterback and also injuries to key players. At a loss to the Bills this past November by a score of 24-21, Hackett was fired by the Jaguars.
Despite being fired, LaFleur has nothing but high praise for Hackett, calling him “experienced” and “so organized” in his play calling. Especially when also considering Jaguars’ struggles this season, LaFleur is impressed with Hackett’s work in Jacksonville, noting the adversity this year. The fact that the two have a similar background adds to the connection that LaFleur believes the two will develop following a natural learning curve.
The hiring could be extremely beneficial to an already solid running game lead by second year running back Aaron Jones out of UTEP. Jones ran for 728 yards on 5.5 per attempt in 12 games this season before being placed on the injured reserve with a knee injury. He also averaged 5.5 yards a carry in 12 games his rookie season. Leonard Fournette was a 1000-yard rusher in his rookie season under Hackett’s influence and Jones should be in capable hands with Hackett’s guidance and play design capabilities.
LaFleur and Hackett plan on being in the quarterback room as much as possible to ensure they get the most out of Aaron Rodgers this season. Rodgers already threw for over 4400 yards and 25 touchdowns this season. If the coaches get any more out of him and an improved Jones could pose nightmares for every defense in the NFL; we just need our own defense to show up.