GREEN BAY — Matt LaFleur has his man.
The new Green Bay Packers coach has hired Nathaniel Hackett to be his offensive coordinator, an NFL source confirmed Monday evening. The hiring was first reported by NFL Network.
LaFleur confirmed last week that Hackett, the former Jacksonville Jaguars offensive coordinator, was in the running for the job but, at the time, several other candidates were options as well.
But after the San Francisco 49ers denied the Packers permission to interview a pair of coaches on Kyle Shanahan’s staff — including LaFleur’s brother, Mike — and ex-Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Todd Monken landed with the Cleveland Browns earlier Monday, Hackett was the clear-cut choice.
Hackett spent most of the past four seasons with the Jaguars under coach Doug Marrone, serving as quarterbacks coach in 2015 before moving up to offensive coordinator in 2016. Marrone fired him on Nov. 26 after the Jaguars’ seventh consecutive loss during their 5-11 season.
In 2017, Hackett was in charge of a Jaguars offense that helped Jacksonville to an AFC Championship Game berth against the New England Patriots and saw quarterback Blake Bortles finally realize his potential — albeit briefly.
Although the Jaguars ranked 27th in total offense this season (302.0 yards per game) and 31st in the 32-team league in scoring offense (15.3 points per game), they finished the 2017 season ranked sixth in yards per game (365.9) and fifth in points per game (26.1).
Hackett is the son of former University of Pittsburgh and USC head coach Paul Hackett, who mentored ex-Packers coach Mike McCarthy early in McCarthy’s coaching career at Pitt and with the Kansas City Chiefs.
LaFleur said during his introductory news conference Wednesday he will call the Packers’ offensive plays, so Hackett will be in a support role on game day. LaFleur had been a non-play calling offensive coordinator under Sean McVay with the Los Angeles Rams in 2017 before leaving to call the Tennessee Titans’ offensive plays last year as their offensive coordinator.
“He’s certainly on the radar,” LaFleur told SiriusXM Mad Dog Radio’s Adam Schein when asked about Hackett last week. “He did a lot of great things there in Jacksonville. They went to the AFC Championship Game (last year), so that’s definitely somebody I want to talk to.”
It’s hard to say what LaFleur would have done had his friend Shanahan allowed Mike LaFleur, the 49ers’ wide receivers coach and passing-game coordinator, or Mike McDaniel, the 49ers’ running-game coordinator, interview for the position.
But in Hackett, who turned 39 last month, LaFleur gets an experienced offensive coach who should be able to connect with quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Despite his youth, Hackett has been an offensive coordinator for two NFL teams — he was the Buffalo Bills’ coordinator in 2013 and ’14 — and also served as Syracuse’s offensive coordinator under Marrone in 2011 and 2012.
Hackett told NFL Network he was “shocked” when the Jaguars fired him, saying he went into a meeting with Marrone expecting to discuss a possible quarterback change.
“I knew Doug had thought about it,” Hackett said. “I guess the football gods had it out for me. We started off hot, had so many injuries, we were a completely different team. Guys busted their butts, but you can only do so much. I wish I could’ve figured something out.”
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported LaFleur will interview Miami’s Darren Rizzi for the special teams coordinator position that came open when the Packers fired veteran coach Ron Zook. Rizzi is being allowed to interview with other teams even though the Dolphins would like to keep him because Miami is set to hire New England Patriots defensive play-caller Brian Flores as head coach. The Dolphins can’t make that move official — and cannot officially hire assistants — until the Patriots are eliminated from the playoffs or after they win the Super Bowl. … Packers inside linebackers coach/defensive run-game coordinator Patrick Graham is considered the leading candidate to be the Dolphins’ defensive coordinator under Flores, according to a league source. Graham and Flores worked together with the Patriots before Graham joined the Packers’ staff under defensive coordinator Mike Pettine before last season. … ESPN.com reported two assistant coaches who were hired by McCarthy will remain with the Packers: defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery and tight ends coach Brian Angelichio.
Jason Wilde covers the Packers for ESPN Wisconsin. Listen to him with former Packers and Badgers offensive lineman Mark Tauscher weekdays from 9-11 on “Wilde & Tausch” on your local ESPN station.
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