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Nathaniel Hackett Accentuates the Positive in Dealing with Weekly Change on Jets Offense

Coordinator: 'Battle-Tested' QB Zach Wilson Is 'Fired Up' to Lead Green & White Against Texans' Defense


Those darned rampant optimists. Nothing seems to get them down. And among all the things that Jets offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett is, he's a rampant optimist.

Hackett was asked at his Thursday media availability about the weekly frustrations of trying to pull an offense out of an extended slump despite the fact that so many bodies in that offense change on a regular basis.

So, "Coach Hack" seemed to say, what's the problem?

"Adversity brings growth. A very smart man always taught me that," he said, not identifying the smart man. (We suspect it was his dad, Paul Hackett, but could be wrong.) "So I think as a coach you always embrace the challenge of having people in and out of the lineup. You get so excited for people to have their opportunity to see where they're going to go. And when guys get in the lineup and play for a while, you love watching them grow as a player."

One of those positions for the Jets this week, heading toward a Sunday North Jersey rodeo with the Houston Texans, is quarterback, one of those players Zach Wilson. And Hackett is happy to have Zach back.

"I think he's had two weeks off to recenter himself and learn and continually grow," the OC said. "When we looked at it from the very beginning this season, the whole idea was for him to be able to sit back and learn from Aaron [Rodgers]. I think those two weeks, that was something he was able to do.

"He's been great. I mean, the guy's been battle-tested, he really has," Hackett said about Wilson's demeanor as he returns to the starting lineup, "from being out on the field to all the things he's had to deal with, And I respect him so much for being able to keep his head down, continually learn, continually grow. And he's fired up."

What has put out the fire for multiple Jets quarterbacks on occasion this season has been the inability to slow other teams' pass rushes. In the last three games of their five-game losing streak, the Jets have been sacked 17 times, four of them on strips. But with some stability returning to the O-line, Hackett sees a positive path for the Wilson Jets vs. the Texans.

"They're a lot like our defense. They'll have the wide-9's and they're very much a penetrating front," he said. "So for us, we're going to have to understand that and take the fight to them, because they're unbelievably talented, especially those two edge rushers [Jonathan Greenard and rookie Will Anderson] and [Sheldon] Rankins, who was here in the past. All those guys do a great job really trying to control the line of scrimmage. So for us in the run game and in the pass game, it's going to be a great challenge."

In addition to providing a glimpse into his approach toward roster change, Hackett also explained some of the dynamics involved in reshaping the QB depth chart once more, with Wilson back at No. 1, backed up by Trevor Siemian and newly arrived Brett Rypien, with Tim Boyle released.

"Brett's a great guy. I was with him last year," Hackett said of his short time as Denver's head coach with Rypien backing up Russell Wilson. "He understands the system, he knows the system. There've been changes and tweaks. But he's just a confident guy who's had experience. He jumped around a couple of places, so it's good for him to have some familiarity. He's a very efficient guy and we're happy to have him."

As for Boyle's release after three games, two starts and 122 offensive snaps, the coordinator was torn.

"This is the best profession in the world but it's not the best business, and unfortunately it's part of the business and it happened," Hackett said of Boyle's release. "Everyone knows how I feel about Tim. I love him, I wish him the best. And that's just part of how things work."

And even the most rampant optimists, when they reach the top of their professions, know precisely how things work.

"It's unfortunate but we have to move on," he said. "We've got to score some points."

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