Nathaniel Hackett's unemployment was short-lived. He's returning to an NFL staff in a familiar role.
The New York Jets hired Hackett as their offensive coordinator on Thursday, NFL Network Insider Tom Pelissero reported. The Jets also hired Keith Carter as offensive line coach and run game coordinator, the team announced.
Hackett ascended from offensive assistant to head coach in 2022, taking over the Denver Broncos in what was supposed to be the beginning of a beautiful partnership between coach and quarterback. The pairing of Hackett and Russell Wilson failed spectacularly, though, resulting in Hackett's firing before the completion of his first season in Denver.
In less than a year, Hackett's reputation -- one of a bright mind who guided Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay's productive offense to success -- devolved into an overwhelmed coach who likely would best serve as a coordinator in the future. New York is giving him the opportunity to do so with a team that lacks an answer under center.
"You gotta own it, right? It's part of the résumé, and I get it," Jets coach Robert Saleh said of Hackett's Broncos tenure. "But you gotta have the discipline to look past recency bias, you gotta be able to look past whatever you wanna call Denver. But the fact of the matter is that he got to Denver and he had that opportunity because of his life's work as an offensive coordinator and all the the different things that he's done is this league and how much respect he's garnered throughout the league in all those different spots and all the players he's developed in his career and the people that he's worked with.
"Like I said, super excited about him being our offensive coordinator and giving him an opportunity to work with our young guys and all the things that we've got going for us."
The Jets cycled through four quarterbacks in 2022, turning to veteran Joe Flacco due to an injury to second-year passer Zach Wilson before benching Wilson in favor of backup Mike White. Along the way, Chris Streveler also found himself in the lineup, tasked with leading an offense that showed early season promise, but couldn't weather a number of key injuries.
New York's lack of a solution at quarterback appeared to drive a few candidates away from their opening. Dolphins pass game coordinator and quarterbacks coach Darrell Bevell declined their request to interview him for the offensive coordinator job, as did veteran Browns offensive line coach Bill Callahan, underscoring the expected difficulties of the job.
Saleh said the Jets will seek out adding a veteran signal-caller this offseason, but developing Wilson will still be a priority for Hackett and the new offensive staff.
"The quarterback position, obviously, with all the different interviews was the No. 1 concern and rightfully so," Saleh explained. "It was simple: We're committed to finding a veteran. We didn't get into names. … It was talked about that we do plan on bringing in a veteran quarterback if we can. We do want to continue working with Zach and continue to develop him."
Outside of quarterback, there are plenty of reasons to be attracted to the Jets. Running back Breece Hall shined as a rookie before suffering a season-ending knee injury, and New York has a handful of promising players elsewhere (receiver Garrett Wilson and guard Alijah Vera-Tucker, for example) in its starting lineup.
Hackett will be tasked with getting that group in order before the 2023 season with the goal of picking up where they left off prior to the losses of Hall and Vera-Tucker.
The Jets have completed one of two tasks, identifying and hiring their replacement for the departed Mike LaFleur. Now, they must determine how they will proceed at quarterback.