According to reports, Jacksonville Jaguars offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett was relieved of his duties on Monday after losing to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, 24-21.
“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,” said head coach Doug Marrone 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.”
Hackett, 38, arrived in Jacksonville with Marrone in 2015 and was promoted to offensive coordinator in 2016. Both he and Marrone also paired together in 2013 when Marrone had gotten hired by the Bills.
After an amazing season last year in which the Jaguars won the AFC South division and were one game shy of the super bowl, the Jags have fallen to last place in the AFC South with a 3-8 record. Jacksonville started the season 3-1.
“It wasn’t anything negative,” said Hackett said on the news. “(Marrone) just decided to make a move. I guess he didn’t think I was good enough, that’s the only thing I can think of. It’s a shock.”
“I knew Doug had thought about it. 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.”
Jacksonville ranks 21st in the NFL in total offense with 3,811 yards and 28th in points per game with a 17.9 average after finishing fifth in scoring last season (26.0) en route to a 10-6 record and an AFC South title. The Jaguars decrease of 8.1 points per game is the largest drop of any team from last season.
Outside looking in, you can say that this is a justifiable firing because the Jaguars were having a tough time offensively this season. In addition, it seems as if Marrone was looking for a guy to place the blame on and in this case it was Hackett. However, Hackett is not to blame entirely for Jacksonville’s drop off this season.
Now Jacksonville has been plagued by injuries this year. Cam Robinson is out with an ACL injury, starting center Brandon Linder is having knee trouble of his own, tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins is nursing an abdominal injury and that’s a few of the names that have been placed on the injured reserve list. Even with that fact, Jacksonville’s last four losses have all been by six points or less. You also had to play some games without your starting running back Leonard Fournette this season.
But Marrone can’t find a fall guy forever and eventually, he’s going to have to look at his starting quarterback Blake Bortles. Bortles signed a three-year extension last offseason with the Jags and is having a horrible season with 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He has thrown at least 10 interceptions in each of his five NFL seasons and is completing 60.4 percent of his pass attempts. Yet his 6.97 yards per completion ranks 29th in the NFL.
Last offseason, Jacksonville had an opportunity to get Kirk Cousins, Alex Smith, Eli Manning, Teddy Bridgewater and a myriad of other free agent quarterbacks that were available. Quarterbacks that could’ve done a better job than what Bortles has done the last few years being the quarterback of the team. But since he made the AFC Championship game and was one win away from the super bowl, Jacksonville thought he had figured it out and gave him an extension.
A dead clock is right twice a day, eventually, you’re going to need a new clock. Jacksonville didn’t elect to get a new clock and are now stuck with a mediocre quarterback who’s making close to top tier money. But that seems to be getting overlooked in all this.
So you fire Hackett, but do you know who’s still your quarterback? It’s Blake Bortles. I’m not saying he’s not an NFL quarterback, but the proof is in the pudding and he’s not a starter in the NFL.
Jacksonville will more than likely have a top-10 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft and have lost seven straight games. Is that Hackett’s fault? Duval deserves better and should seriously consider finding their next franchise quarterback.