Broncos hire son of former Pitt coach
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett has agreed to become the Denver Broncos’ new head coach.
He replaces Vic Fangio, who was fired a day after the Broncos finished 7-10, their sixth consecutive season out of the playoffs and fifth straight year they’ve failed to post a winning record.
Hackett, 42, brings energy and enthusiasm to a franchise that has foundered ever since winning Super Bowl 50 six years ago.
Might he also bring No. 12 with him from Green Bay?
Choosing Hackett sent speculation skyrocketing that the Broncos were trying to lure star Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers to Denver, perhaps along with his star receiver Davante Adams, who is set to hit free agency in March.
Rodgers, who turned 38 last month in what could be his fourth MVP season, is contemplating his future, including retirement, after the Packers’ early exit from the playoffs last weekend.
Top-seeded Green Bay was upset at home 13-10 by the San Francisco 49ers.
The Packers want Rodgers to return for an 18th season, saying they had no plays for a rebuild.
Rodgers, who skipped all of last year’s offseason before reporting for training camp with a reworked contract, said he’ll give the team an answer soon.
Hackett, 42, emerged as the front-runner on his own merits, however, which includes his work with quarterback Blake Bortles as Jacksonville’s offensive coordinator from 2016-18 before he went to Green Bay and helped Matt LaFleur win a record 39 regular-season games in his first three seasons as head coach.
Hackett, who has never been a head coach, has become well known for his football smarts, his energy and his enthusiasm. Packers wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling tweeted: “One of the absolute best human beings and smartest coaches around. Man this makes my heart happy seeing great people get rewarded. I wish my guy nothing but the absolute best.”
Hackett also has a big fan in Rodgers, who said in 2020 that “there’s nobody in the building that brings me more joy or is more fun to be around than Nathaniel Hackett,” whom he called “a close confidant and friend besides a fantastic coach.”
“I just really, really can’t express enough how important he is to our team in so many ways. He’s incredible in front of the room. He brings a lot of great energy” to meetings that can be tedious, Rodgers said. “Never feels that way with him in front of the room. ... I think he’s got a great mind.”
Rodgers and Hackett, who is the son of former college and NFL coach Paul Hackett, connected quickly over their shared background in and affinity for the West Coast offense with its quick crossing routes.
“Obviously, I’m a little biased because he comes from the old-school West Coast tree,” Rodgers said. “And feeling like I grew up in the West Coast offense, as well, with Mike Sherman and Mike McCarthy, I have a lot of affection for some of those old West Coast plays. And I do have a dialogue with his father, Paul, usually about specific West Coast concepts.”