When the Bills hired Mike Pettine in January, it was pretty easy for anyone to go look up his credentials. Bills fans are obviously familiar with the Jets from battling them within the division and listening to ESPN and other media platforms overanalyze their defense.
As for Nate Hackett, it was a bit more difficult to figure out what we got with him. I think it is mostly due to the fact that Marrone was the offensive guy at Syracuse and Buffalo doesn’t strike me as a big college town, especially towards Syracuse, unless you graduated from that overrated broadcasting school.
If you were to choose from many online betting sites about who fans had more confidence in, it would probably be Pettine. NFL success just translates more than collegiate success does.
Now what kind of research can one do about Hackett if he’s so young and has very little experience? I guess you can go to his dad, Paul Hackett. Now, let me preface this by saying, yes, it may be a bit silly to compare father and son coaches. However, to paraphrase Doug Whaley, like using analytics, it is just another layer to consider when making football decisions.
A number sons in NFL father-son combos more or less take their dad’s systems and sprinkle a few new things in. The Ryan Brothers pretty much run the same defense as their dad did. Kyle and Mike Shanahan do as well. Wade Phillips adapted his 3-4 from Bum Phillips. Jim Mora, Jr. and Jim Mora, Sr. had defensive backgrounds. The apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree when it comes to coaching.
So what do you get with father Hackett? It isn’t really much to be honest. The one thing he seems to have is a lot of experience. Some view him as one of the originators of the West Coast Offense. However, He’s been a little inconsistent during his time as a coordinator.
Here are some of Hackett Sr.’s highs and lows.
— In his 9 years as an offensive coordinator in Kansas City and New York, Hackett’s teams didn’t turn the ball over much. They ranked as follows in the least amount of giveaways in the NFL:
8th, 9th, 1st, 2nd, 2nd, 2nd, 4th, 2nd, and 1st.
Those are pretty amazing numbers when you consider that he had six different starting QBs start more than 10 games (Montana, Krieg, Bono, Grbac, Testeverde, Pennington).
— You can’t get any better than having a backfield of Marcus Allen and Curtis Martin, can you? The Jets/Chiefs knew how to pound the football. They ranked the following in rushing:
20th, 11th, 1st, 4th, 5th, 4th, 22nd, 25th, and 3rd.
Keep in mind that the first two years he had Joe Montana in KC and that offense was obviously going to be geared more around passing than running. It changed once Montana retired and the Chiefs became more of a running team.
— Speaking of Montana, I do remember that when the Chiefs traded for him in 1993, they brought in Hackett specifically because of his roots in the West Coast Offense. Keep in mind that Marty Schottenheimer, who was the head coach at the time, was never a high risk coach in terms of offense. There’s a reason why they coined the phrase “Martyball” when it came to his conservative coaching style. Hackett was brought in to erase that stigma with Montana, and the Chiefs ranked 15th and 7th in passing yards.
— 2002 was the first year I lived in NYC and right away you realize the hype machine is much bigger here than anywhere else in the country. The first sign of Jets hype was when Chad Pennington burst onto the scene as their starter. Pennington was outstanding, going 8-4 in his 12 starts and throwing for 22TDs and just 6INTs. He did all of this under Hackett and the folks in the tabloids were comparing Pennington to Montana with his coolness and knowledge of the West Coast Offense.
— Hackett was the QB coach in San Francisco from 1983-1985. Bill Walsh’s staff during the 80’s was pretty much the greatest collection of coaches ever.
— Take away 2002, and Paul Hackett was much maligned in NYC just like Tony Sprano was last year. There were a number of complaints about him not calling enough passing plays down the field and the offense being too inconsistent. Here’s an article from the New York Times about Hackett’s play-calling ability in 2004:
“Hackett’s offensive scheme – an offshoot of the West Coast offense of short and intermediate passes – has been called predictable. His play-calling has been labeled conservative, a criticism Hackett acknowledged Wednesday that he has even leveled at himself. He has been described as stubborn to a fault, unwilling to alter his plans as some think he should when the flow of the game may call for it, or to properly utilize all the players in the Jets’ arsenal.”
Keep in mind the Jets made the playoffs that season and shortly after being eliminated against SD, Hackett resigned or in some circles, was pushed out. As for not going deep, there’s some credence to it. Pennington only attempted 14 passes that traveled the air 30 yards or more in both 2002 and 2003.
— Points and passing are the name of the game when it comes to offense, right? Well, Hackett’s offenses only ranked in the top 10 twice in scoring and once in passing. In fact, his passing offenses ranked 22nd or lower five times.
— Hackett was the QB coach in Oakland with JaMarcus Russell. Need I say more?
— Hackett also had two head coaching stints in college at Pitt and USC. His record was 32-38-1 with only one season above .500.
Now, from what we’ve gathered from the OTA interviews, the Bills plan on running the K-Gun/no-huddle offense, which seems vastly different than what Hackett’s dad ran.
Also, Marrone has said that this variation of the West Coast Offense is designed to run more deep patterns. So it could be that Hackett is putting his own stamp on his dad’s method.
Again, this could all be a moot point, but if people want to argue that Nate is a competent coach by pointing to the fact that he’s the son of a coach, then I think it is only fair to examine his dad’s coaching resume.