Getting to Know Bears Head Coach Candidates: Nathaniel Hackett

A complete house cleaning is underway at Halas Hall.

Three football seasons have passed since Matt Nagy, and Ryan Pace won top honors for their efforts in leading the 2018 Chicago Bears to a 12-4 record and NFC North title, and the time has come for the franchise to find their replacements.

Despite this team’s issues, the head coach and general manager vacancies are highly sought-after. And with Super Bowl-winning Hall of Fame executive Bill Polian lending a helping hand, the Bears are in a position to make some impact hirings. Over the following days, weeks, or however long it takes, we’ll be diving into the top available candidates, including their history, what they offer schematically, how they fit culturally, where they can take this team, and more. Let’s do it. 

Previous Head Coach Candidates: Doug Pederson.

Previous General Manager Candidates: Glenn Cook.

Name, Current Team, and Position

Nathaniel Hackett, Packers Offensive Coordinator

Relevant Coaching Experience

•   Green Bay Packers Offensive Coordinator (2019-present)

•   Jacksonville Jaguars Offensive Coordinator (2016-18); Quarterbacks Coach (2015-16)

•   Buffalo Bills Offensive Coordinator (2013-14), Offensive Quality Control Coach (2008-09)

•   Tampa Bay Buccaneers Offensive Quality Control Coach (2006-07)

Hackett has spent the last three seasons as the Packers offensive coordinator, working with Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams. Before his time in Green Bay, Hackett was the offensive coordinator in Jacksonville for three seasons and the quarterback’s coach for the two seasons prior. The 42-year-old Hackett has also spent time in Buffalo as an offensive coordinator and offensive quality control coach and Tampa Bay as an offensive quality control coach.

Spending time working with Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams in Green Bay looks fantastic on a resumé, and helping Blake Bortles and the Jaguars post the league’s fifth-ranked scoring offense is a feather in the cap for Hackett.

Hackett is a Doug Marrone guy, getting his first job under Marrone in 2010 as a quarterbacks and tight ends coach at Syracuse. After his two seasons in Tampa Bay, Hackett reunited with Marrone in Buffalo and went with him to Jacksonville.

Existing Rumors and Bears Ties

The Bears identified their desire to interview Hackett fairly quickly with news of their request to interview coming early Tuesday morning, just 24 hours after the firing of Matt Nagy and not long after news surfaced that the Bears requested to interview Brian Daboll and Doug Pederson on Monday.

Daboll has long been considered a potential fit for the Bears thanks to his work with Josh Allen in Buffalo and his ties to the Andy Reid coaching tree. Pederson’s resumé precedes him, and he was present in Bears camp this summer as an observer during his year hiatus from the sidelines, so those two interview requests seemed like automatics. Hackett was the first name that came from outside of that line of thinking, but the Bears have had a front-row seat to Hackett’s offenses in Green Bay for the last three seasons, so it’s not entirely out of left field that they would want to speak with him, and if nothing else, pick his brain.

Potential Fit

Hey, It Might Work…

Hackett has spent the last three seasons as the offensive coordinator of the Packers, with Green Bay finishing 10th (26.5), 1st (31.8), and 15th (23.5) in points per game under Hackett’s direction. Leading the top-ranked scoring offense in 2018 would generally be a massive plus for a candidate, but there’s the fact that Aaron Rodgers completed 70 percent of his passes and threw for 4,299 yards, and 48 touchdowns, which kind of takes some shine off of the feat for Hackett.

Without Rodgers, Adams, and the rest of the dynamic group of weapons in Green Bay, Hackett has seen some success as the offensive coordinator in previous stops. As I mentioned, Hackett was the offensive coordinator for the Jaguars in 2017 when Jacksonville scored 26.1 points per game, fifth-best in the NFL, and went to the AFC Championship game with Blake Bortles under center.

With the talent on the roster, Hackett has had great success as a coordinator throughout his career, BUT...

OK, Maybe He’s Not The One…

The problem is, outside of Green Bay, he’s never really had the talent to work with. Aside from his past three seasons with Green Bay, Hackett has never worked with a talented young quarterback. In Jacksonville, Hackett worked with Blake Bortles (and admittedly extracted Bottles best years out of him). Hackett worked with E.J. Manuel, Thad Lewis, Jeff Tuel, and Kyle Orton in Buffalo. This begs the question, and this will be a crucial question for everyone considered, what is Hackett’s plan to develop Justin Fields?

Hackett’s time outside of Green Bay (save for the 2017 season in Jacksonville) features a bunch of mediocre to bottom-third offenses under his direction. He doesn’t have experience developing a quarterback with the talent and potential of Justin Fields. Not for nothing, Jordan Love was a first-rounder that Green Bay traded up for in the draft and has been under Hackett’s direction for two years, and he doesn’t look very good at all.

In The End …

Hackett will have to wow the Bears’ leadership with a plan for Justin Fields and convince them that he can put together a scheme that can thrive without guys like Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams making the plays. While there’s nothing terrible I can say about Hackett that would make me dislike the hire if that’s the way it went eventually, there’s nothing about Hackett that moves the needle for me. Hackett feels like a hot OC hire with nuclear-grade weapons at his disposal for his best years in the league, and quite frankly, I don’t think that’s the right fit for the Bears. They just did that for four years.

written by

Patrick grew up in Chicago's Bridgeport and Garfield Ridge neighborhoods before moving to the Western Suburbs of Chicago before eventually relocating to the Las Vegas area with his family in 2023. He started with Bleacher Nation in 2021 and has spent time as a Staff Writer and on the Chicago Blackhawks beat. He is currently a writer and editor at Bleacher Nation covering the Chicago Bears and the NFL at large and the author of the Bleacher Nation Newsletter. Patrick is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA).

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