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Nathaniel Hackett on the Jets' Offense and Return of Aaron Rodgers: 'Now You Can Really Dial It Up'

In Year 2, Some New Faces, New Weapons and New Opportunity

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It's not that Year 2 for the Jets and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett will have a new look. Sure, there will be some new wrinkles -- and one big one, the return of quarterback Aaron Rodgers to the field -- it's more like the offense will be massaged, fine-tuned and then unleashed.

"Anytime you're in a second-year offense, it's a completely different feel from when you first start," Hackett said as he looked forward to the start of training camp in a few weeks. "You're installing plays, you're installing alignments, and you're talking about guys just trying to understand what they're doing. Now you can really detail it up. You can talk about the intricacies of the route. You can experiment with new plays, new motions, all kinds of different, fun things. So it's been really good. I think the guys have really enjoyed it."

While the system remains generally the same, some of the names have changed. In addition to Rodgers coming back after tearing an Achilles tendon, the Jets have bulked up the offensive line by signing Tyron Smith and John Simpson in free agency, trading for Morgan Moses, drafting Olu Fashanu in the first round while awaiting the return from injury of Alijah Vera-Tucker. Then there's the addition of WR Mike Williams and the drafting of Malachi Corley to team with budding superstar Garrett Wilson. Breece Hall remains the go-to guy out of the backfield while TE Tyler Conklin is likely to play a big part in the attack directed by Rodgers and Hackett.

For the OC, the team and the Jets' dedicated fanbase, last season turned on a dime when Rodgers went down on the first offensive series. What followed was a litany of injuries on the offensive line as the offense cycled through a series of quarterbacks.

"When you have a guy like Aaron, you want to build everything around, I think anybody would want to do that," said Hackett, who worked with Rodgers for three seasons in Green Bay. "And when he went down, we had to make adjustments. I still think about that game [vs. Buffalo on Monday night, Sept. 11] quite a bit. Now, I give so much credit to that group being able to come together and still find a way to win that football game [on Xavier Gipson's game-winning punt return in overtime]. But yeah, you have to make changes. You have to work with the guys that you have. And having Aaron back, we get to work with him, a guy like Tyrod Taylor, another veteran, experienced guy. It allows you to do a lot of those things."

While looking forward to the coming season, Hackett said he takes valuable lessons from the challenges of last season, which saw him eventually moving from the sideline to the coaches' box to call plays.

"There were a lot of things we had to do and there was a lot of adversity," Hackett told Eric Allen on "The Official Jets Podcast." "And I think adversity builds strength. And I think some of the experience the guys had, whether it was the young wide receivers, the offensive linemen who were just coming into the building and starting right away, it's great for being able to put on that game face and feel more confidence.

"And for us, you can't necessarily get excited yet. There's still a long way to go. Before that first game [Monday night Sept. 9 at San Francisco] you still have a lot of work to do. The guys got to get on the same page. We need to have some consistency. We are slowly getting closer and closer. I think that's when the excitement will build."

NFL.com Predicts Breece Hall Will Be Jets' MVP
Eric Edholm, the lead draft writer at NFL.com, went out on a limb with his prediction that third-year running back Breece Hall will be the Jets' MVP in the 2024 season. He also predicted team MVP’s for the 15 other AFC clubs.

"For some organizations, projecting the team MVP entering a season isn't very taxing work," he wrote. "You just know who it is straight away. Oftentimes, it's a quarterback."

Except, for his look at the Jets ... it's not a quarterback.

"Whoa, buddy. I realize this might be a controversial call here, since I'm not only bypassing Sauce Gardner and Quinnen Williams on defense but also Aaron Rodgers and Garrett Wilson on offense. I can assure you I didn't arrive at this pick easily.

"Both defenders are terrific, and the Jets' defense might still have to do a lot of the heavy lifting for the team. This also isn't some thinly veiled anti-Rodgers entry, because I think they clearly need him to win. But we might not see vintage Rodgers in a season where he's turning 41 [in December], even if he'll clearly help Wilson thrive more as a receiver."

And then, the prediction. ...

"Ultimately, [Breece] Hall looked so good to me down the stretch after an up-and-down start to the season (some of which was clearly not his fault)," Edholm wrote. "In the Jets' final three games, he ran for 357 yards and 3 TDs, caught 23 passes and another TD, and added a 2-point conversion for good measure. Now factor in Hall being another year removed from ACL surgery, and it's not hard to see how he could be a massive part of this offense as a runner and receiver."

See photos of the Jets' 90-man roster leading up to 2024 training camp.

CBSSports.com's Most Underappreciated Jets Player: Tyler Conklin
Tyler Sullivan of CBSSports.com, put a spotlight on his list of the most underrated players in the AFC. For the Jets, that guy is TE Tyler Conklin he wrote.

"Conklin has been a worthwhile addition to the Jets ever since they signed him to a three-year deal in 2022," Sullivan wrote. "Even with erratic quarterback play, the tight end has been a steady hand and one of the most productive pass-catchers. Conklin was second on the team with 621 receiving yards [on 61 receptions] in 2023 -- only looking up to Garrett Wilson -- while his receptions [61] ranked third [behind Wilson and Breece Hall]. According to PFF, Conklin has caught 21 contested targets over the past two years, which is the second-most in the league."

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