Jaguars decision to hire Doug Pederson, not Nathaniel Hackett, looks great

Denver Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Denver Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

The Jacksonville Jaguars interviewed an extensive list of candidates for their head coach vacancy before settling on Doug Pederson earlier this year. Looking back, not only did they hire the right man for the job but they also dodged a bullet when they opted not to go with Nathaniel Hackett, who became the head coach of the Denver Broncos but lasted less than a year on the job.

Denver has announced the decision to dismiss Hackett. This isn’t particularly shocking news when you take into account how dreadful the Broncos have been this season. In fact, the writing had been on the wall for a while.

At 4-11, the Broncos have vastly underachieved in 2022. They traded for Russell Wilson in the offseason and had enough weapons on offense to put points on the scoreboard at will. Yet, they rank dead last in points scored. Similarly, they have one of the top defenses in the NFL but the group couldn’t overcome the offense’s shortcomings.

You could make the case that injuries hit the Broncos hard this season but the best teams are prepared for them. Similarly, Wilson hasn’t lived up to expectations and deserves criticism for not propelling the offense. Nevertheless, Hackett is largely responsible for Denver’s inability to win games this year.

After all, offense was supposed to be Hackett’s expertise and the reason he was a coveted candidate in the last head-coach hiring cycle. Also, he approved the Wilson trade and the failure to acclimatize him to the system falls on Hackett’s shoulders.

The Jaguars have a candidate for Coach of the Year in Doug Pederson

While the Broncos start their search for a new head coach, the Jaguars are surely feeling great about their decision to hire Pederson earlier this year. Nathaniel Hacket and Byron Leftwich, two potential candidates to land the Jacksonville job haven’t had the success Pederson has enjoyed in his first season with the Jags.

For the first time since 2017, the Jags have won seven games and are on the brink of making the postseason and winning the AFC South. Moreover, Hackett isn’t the only coach who was hired in the past cycle that has struggled in 2022.

Josh McDaniels has gotten the spotlight for the Las Vegas Raiders’ propensity for losing leads this season. Lovie Smith has only won two games and there’s a chance he could be one-and-done with the Houston Texans.

On the other hand, Todd Bowles (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Kevin O’Connell (Minnesota Vikings), and Brian Daboll (New York Giants) all have their respective teams in contention for a playoff spot, so Pederson isn’t the only head coach who’s made the positive impact in his first season on the job.

Winning is what ultimately matters in the NFL and Hackett showed in his lone season with the Broncos that couldn’t win much. While his firing isn’t a reason for celebration, it puts the Jaguars’ decision to hire Doug Pederson in perspective. Had they hired someone else, there’s a chance they wouldn’t be 7-8 ahead of Week 17.

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