Jaguars fire offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett
By David Levin
The Jacksonville Jaguars announced on Monday that offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett had been relieved of his duties. The move comes after the team lost its seventh game in a row, 24-21 to Buffalo on Sunday.
The first domino fell on Monday as the Jaguars announced Nathaniel Hackett was no longer the offensive coordinator of the franchise. After a string of poor offensive performances during the team’s seven-game losing streak, it was Hackett who was the first to fall in what could be the start of change within the organization.
"“We would like to thank Nathaniel for his hard work and dedication to the Jaguars organization, and we wish him and his family the best moving forward,” Head Coach Doug Marrone said in a statement. “These are always tough decisions, but as the head coach, I have to do what I think is best for this football team.”"
The relationship between Hackett and Doug Marrone goes back to their days together at Syracuse and the Bills coaching staff. Hackett was the Jaguars’ quarterbacks coach in 2015 and 2016, and then took over as offensive coordinator with nine games remaining in the 2016 season.
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He becomes the third offensive coordinator who has lost his job while working with the Jaguars and quarterback Blake Bortles.
The news about Hackett’s firing is not the only big story of the day in Jacksonville as Marrone told the media this afternoon Bortles will be benched for the game against Indianapolis this week in favor of backup Cody Kessler.
The Jaguars have been one of the worst teams in the NFL this season in scoring points. The team ranks 21st in in the total offense and 15th in rushing offense this season, a far cry from leading the NFL in rushing yards per game in 2017 with over 141 yards per contest.
Where do the Jaguars go from here? – Now that the decision to bench Bortles has been made, what happens to his future in Jacksonville. The fifth-year starter signed an offseason deal for $54 million over three years with $26.5 million in guaranteed money over two seasons. He will likely be brought back next season based on the deal with the organization.
The Jaguars will either bring in competition with a veteran through a trade or free agency and should draft a signal caller to groom for the future.
Who does the playcalling? – Marrone in his press conference also announced Scott Milanovich will take over play calling duties in Hackett’s absence. If the current quarterbacks coach shows he can improve the offense in the next five games, then he could become the team’s offensive coordinator in 2019.
Can the Jaguars win with Kessler? – That’s the biggest question. He has taken a handful of snaps this season in a 20-7 loss to Houston in Week 7. Kessler is a smaller quarterback who is efficient and not flashy. He will be asked to manage the game on Sunday.
The Jaguars showed they can still move the football by rushing for 226 yards in the loss to Buffalo on Sunday. Leonard Fournette rushed for 95 yards on 18 carries and scored twice before being ejected for a fight in the end zone.
Food for thought – Oddly through all of this, had Fournette not been ejected for the fight and the Jaguars scored a rushing touchdown on the next play, they may have gone on to win on Sunday, and Hackett may still be with the organization.