Hackett Has a Lot on His Mind

Packers OC must focus on Niners as suitors come calling.

So, after that crazy finish in Dallas, the San Francisco 49ers punched their ticket to Lambeau Field to play the Packers this weekend in the divisional round of the playoffs. They met in week three in Santa Clara. In that game the Green Bay defense couldn’t hold a 17-0 lead, and had to rely on Aaron Rodgers brilliantly maneuvering the team into field goal position in the final 37 seconds. Mason Crosby won it with a 51 yarder as time expired. 

 

The thing that jumps out at you with the Niners is their speed. Their skill players like Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk and Elijah Mitchell are quick and explosive through the gaps and uncatchable in the open field.  Kyle Shanahan is a creative play designer and Jimmy Garoppolo runs his offense smoothly. The best way to combat that speed is to keep it off the field. The Packers will need long, patient scoring drives to win. 

 

As the Green Bay coaching staff huddles to put together its game plan, you couldn’t blame offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett if he is having a little trouble staying focused.  You see, Hackett is one of the hottest names being tossed around the NFL as a candidate to fill one of the head coaching vacancies.  During the bye week, Hackett was scheduled to interview with at least four teams, two of which are NFC North rivals.  The Vikings, Bears, Broncos and Jaguars have all come calling.   

 

It’s not like the league has suddenly discovered the 42 year old assistant.  He was getting buzz after last season, and interviewed for the Falcons head coach job, before Atlanta hired Titans OC Arthur Smith. 

 

It is a credit to the culture that currently exists in the Green Bay organization that Hackett, as well as the other coaches and players, seem to be able to freely and openly discuss this situation with the media and each other.  No one seems threatened.  No one has to whisper so the boss doesn’t hear.  No one has to walk on egg shells.  No one appears worried about team unity or distraction.  To the contrary, Matt LaFleur and the others seem genuinely happy that their OC is getting the attention they feel he deserves. 

 

“I’m excited for him”, LaFleur said recently.  “I think if I was a team out there that had a vacancy, I would absolutely want to get him in a room.  I just think there’s so many great qualities about him. First and foremost, it starts with who he is as a man. He’s a man of the highest integrity, he treats people the right way, and then I think he just cares about people. Not only the other coaches on our staff, but the players. The players feel that. The players know that.” 

 

Maybe LaFleur shouldn’t get too excited.  It’s a bit scary to imagine what a bright, offensive mind like Hackett’s might be able to do as head coach in, say, Minnesota, with weapons like Dalvin Cook, Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen and Kirk Cousins to work with.  Or how he might enhance the development of a young quarterback like Justin Fields as head coach of the Bears.   

 

If and when the opportunity does come, Hackett told the media last week his goal would be to replicate exactly the environment he is working in now in Green Bay.  “it’s been a great experience here because how we do it here is how I want to do it” he said.  “So it’s been kind of on the job training since I got here with Matt.” 

 

Although Hackett is a hot commodity, it’s likely there would be no commitment from another team until after the Packers finish their playoff run.  The Vikings and Bears are also looking to hire a general manager, and logic would dictate they would fill that position first, and then let the new GM pick his coach.   

 

One of the theories out there is that the Broncos will hire Hackett as the strategic first step toward luring Aaron Rodgers to the franchise next season.  Rodgers and Hackett are close and the quarterback has often sung his praises.  Adding more fuel to this theory is the Broncos also interviewing another Rodgers favorite, Green Bay quarterback coach Luke Getsy, for their head coach opening.  Since the two (Hackett and Getsy) have to work together to plan the Packers’ offensive attack, this would seem to make for a most awkward situation.  But here again, the closeness of the Packers’ staff seems to eradicate any potential hard feelings.  “I am so excited for Luke” Hackett gushed.  “Luke is my brother.  I want him to be a head coach in this league at some point.   I don’t care when that is.  I’ll be so happy for him one way or the other.” 

 

Jacksonville’s interest is a bit ironic in that Hackett was run off as the Jaguars OC in the middle of the 2018 season, in a move many thought was scapegoating him for the failures of head coach Doug Marrone.  

 The Vikings have long demonstrated a penchant for being Packer wannabes, having a history of signing former Green Bay players such as Brett Favre, Greg Jennings and Ryan Longwell.  Minnesota has struggled mightily in recent seasons under Mike Zimmer, who was a defense guy, and the franchise might be ready to try an offensive-minded leader. 

 

Chicago would seem to be the least likely landing place.  Unlike the envious Vikings, the Bears community has a century-long loathing of all things Packers, and the thought of hiring a Green Bay assistant to be their head coach would be a hard sell to the faithful in the Windy City.   

 

Of course, all of these potential suitors are also interviewing several other candidates, and it is very possible Hackett’s phone won’t ring with an offer.  That will be just fine with him.  The California native doesn’t talk like a guy who is anxious to leave Green Bay.  “This is how it should be, the way we have it” he told beat writers.  “The players can feel that trust and that caring and that love that we have for each other, and that’s one of the reasons we’ve been so successful.   

 

It’s been very much a growing process and a learning process here the past three years and I love it.  I don’t want it to end.” 

 

Neither do Packer fans. 

 

 

 

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Ken Lass is a former Green Bay television sports anchor and 43 year media veteran, a lifelong Packers fan, and a shareholder.

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6 points

Comments (32)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
Packers0808's picture

January 17, 2022 at 07:34 am

I know most likely he is gone, but hope he stays put to be honest!

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dobber's picture

January 17, 2022 at 10:17 am

...

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TheBigCheeze's picture

January 17, 2022 at 08:37 am

It's these types of distractions that lose a team a championship....😐...there really needs to be rules in place that prohibit this....

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WestCoastPackerBacker's picture

January 17, 2022 at 11:11 am

I seriously doubt he is interviewing with anyone this week. It didn’t matter as much last week, because they didn’t even know who their opponent would be. The league change this rule a couple of years ago, because the best assistant coaches were always busy deep into the playoffs and thus didn’t get an opportunity for job openings elsewhere in the league. It was just too long for most teams to wait.

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TheBigCheeze's picture

January 17, 2022 at 08:37 am

It's these types of distractions that lose a team a championship....😐...there really needs to be rules in place that prohibit this....

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

January 17, 2022 at 08:48 am

IDK why the NFL doesn't have a Coaching Change moratorium until after the Super Bowl. Sometimes they just lack common sense.

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coolhand's picture

January 17, 2022 at 09:17 am

I agree. The league really should have a rule in place, no talking to candidates until after the season is over for everyone.

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dobber's picture

January 17, 2022 at 09:33 am

Nobody wants to wait that long...they want to start generating buzz in their fan bases and begin roster planning and scouting with new coaches and schemes ASAP. It used to be more like what you're talking about: until just a year or two ago, assistants on teams that were playing in the playoffs were off-limits until after their team was eliminated. You're not going to find a lot of in-demand assistants on non-playoff teams.

https://www.profootballrumors.com/2022/01/2022-nfl-head-coaching-search-...

So a lot of good, but more under the radar, cadidates on high end teams really didn't get the chances they deserved. Owners and coaches asked for this change a couple years ago, and it's slowly expanded since. Yes, it's a problem. It's not likely to go back to the way it was.

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Coldworld's picture

January 17, 2022 at 11:15 am

True most certainly, but that does not make it wise.

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PewAuKeeFan's picture

January 17, 2022 at 12:24 pm

If the Packers were the ones in need of the coaches, then we would probably consider it wise 😊

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Coldworld's picture

January 17, 2022 at 06:34 pm

Depends if others are in the same boat.

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TarynsEyes's picture

January 17, 2022 at 09:58 am

The 'Excuse List' is now officially started.
1) Packer coaches' minds weren't on the game.
2)
3)
4)
5)
6)
7)

The Packers, if not in the playoffs and looking for an HC/GM wouldn't wait either, stop crying.

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Coldworld's picture

January 17, 2022 at 11:16 am

There are no excuses. We are them plus Rodgers. There is no hiding if we lose this one.

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TarynsEyes's picture

January 17, 2022 at 11:32 am

I know that and you know that, but TheBigCheese with his comment clearly points to it as an excuse, and it only takes one to attract the many with other excuses waiting to bring support.

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PatrickGB's picture

January 17, 2022 at 01:35 pm

It’s not an excuse but it IS an unnecessary distraction.

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Since'61's picture

January 17, 2022 at 10:30 am

Hackett is a professional. His interview process will not be a distraction for him or the team. If that were true he would not be receiving numerous interview opportunities. The interest in Hackett and other Packer assistants is a compliment to MLF and the Packer organization. It is the price that successful teams pay for their success, just like drafting in the high 20s or low 30s.

Can't keep the band together forever in this era. Bring on the 49ers. GPG! Thanks, Since '61

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Coldworld's picture

January 17, 2022 at 11:20 am

Looking around, I don’t see any opening for HC for which he seems a favored candidate. It often goes like this, but it’s often a year or two before the person is offered a position unless there’s one no more established coach will touch (possible this year).

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Bitternotsour's picture

January 17, 2022 at 07:20 pm

he's going to get the denver job. they'll trade for rodgers. he gets three years to land a super bowl. his only real competition is getsy.

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splitpea1's picture

January 17, 2022 at 11:26 am

If I were the Jaguars, I 'd be rolling out the red carpet for Hackett, and if I were Hackett, I'd think this was a pretty attractive opportunity. Here is a very talented young quarterback that needs help; you have the #1 overall pick (again), and there is really nowhere to go but up.

Wherever he goes, let's hope he doesn't drag too much of the crew with him.

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Starrbrite's picture

January 17, 2022 at 08:08 pm

Yep—-the Jags are the best opportunity for Hackett. I’ll piggyback on your reasons why but include that should he choose Denver, he’ll have to beat Mahomes, Herbert, and Carr(?) twice a year. Much easier track in Jacksonville.

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TheVOR's picture

January 17, 2022 at 12:26 pm

We need him to have beating the 49ers and going to the Super Bowl on his mind.

I personally don't think he's going to get a head coaching position, I could be wrong, but if he doesn't, you'd obviously love having him back in Green Bay.

I hope he has THUMPING the 49ers on his mind.

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croatpackfan's picture

January 18, 2022 at 08:58 am

If he will be the part of the SB winner organization, I do not think he will stay. One of the 4 teams will pull the trigger.

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Buckywunder's picture

January 17, 2022 at 01:42 pm

This concerns me.

GB lost in 2011 because of the Joe Philbin’s family distraction, tragic as it was.

Also lost in SB XXXII because Holmgren was playing footsie with Paul Allen and otherwise shopping for his next HC gig.

GB doesn’t need no stinkin’ distractions…

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13TimeChamps's picture

January 17, 2022 at 01:50 pm

I'm pretty sure GB lost SB XXXII because they played a team with 4 HOFers on offense alone. Denver was the better team that day.

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Starrbrite's picture

January 17, 2022 at 08:22 pm

We would have beaten Denver 7-10 times. We were a (much) better team. As Reggie White said, “we didn’t take them very serious.”
Gabe Wilkins being hurt was a game changer.
I still have nightmares because we lost to that stupid team. Elway only completed 12 passes.

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13TimeChamps's picture

January 17, 2022 at 09:26 pm

John Elway...HOF
Terrell Davis...HOF/NFL MVP
Gary Zimmerman...HOF
Shannon Sharpe...HOF

The following year....Broncos went 14-2 and won 2nd SB in a row.

No we wouldn't have beaten that "stupid team" 7-10 times.

Elway only had to complete 12 passes because Terrell Davis ran for 150+ and 3 TDs.

There is nothing wrong with competing hard and losing to a better team. That's what happened in that game.

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croatpackfan's picture

January 18, 2022 at 09:01 am

So, it is not that Packers lose the game because of HC, but because they "did not take them seriously!". As RW said!

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13TimeChamps's picture

January 17, 2022 at 01:48 pm

I question how attractive an OC who doesn't call the plays actually is. Think Eric Bieniemy and how many times he's been passed over. I think maybe he would need to go somewhere to be a true OC with play calling responsibilities first, before getting a HC position. And he's only 42, so plenty of time for that to happen.

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Starrbrite's picture

January 17, 2022 at 08:39 pm

That’s a good question.

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PhantomII's picture

January 17, 2022 at 06:38 pm

I can see teams that are out of the playoffs want to get at rectifying their teams ASAP, but I think it's complete B.S it happens right during the playoffs. It should not be allowed until after the team is out of the playoffs. They are still under contract and it's a distraction to teams.

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Starrbrite's picture

January 17, 2022 at 08:40 pm

Yes—I agree with you.

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Avrumi's picture

January 18, 2022 at 03:03 pm

𝐈 𝐠𝐞𝐭 𝐩𝐚𝐢𝐝 𝐦𝐨𝐫𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐧 $𝟏𝟒𝟎 𝐭𝐨 $𝟒𝟓𝟎 𝐩𝐞𝐫 𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐨𝐧𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐞. 𝐈 𝐡𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐝 𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐣𝐨𝐛 𝟑 𝐦𝐨𝐧𝐭𝐡𝐬 𝐚𝐠𝐨 𝐢𝐢𝐥 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐚𝐟𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐣𝐨𝐢𝐧𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐈 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐧𝐞𝐝 𝐞𝐚𝐬𝐢𝐥𝐲 $𝟐𝟒𝟔𝟓𝟐 𝐟𝐫𝐨𝐦 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐨𝐧𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐞 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐬𝐤𝐢𝐥𝐥𝐬 .

𝐒𝐢𝐦𝐩𝐥𝐲 𝐠𝐢𝐯𝐞 𝐢𝐭 𝐨𝐩𝐞𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐤 𝐇𝐄𝐑𝐄,,..,,... 𝘄𝘄𝘄.𝗟𝗶𝘃𝗲𝗝𝗼𝗯𝟮𝟰𝟳.𝗰𝗼𝗺

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