48 years ago, the world watched as Marty McFly traveled back to 1955 to get back to the present in ‘Back to the Future’. However, what he wasn’t aware of was how more positive the present would become after his trip to the past. It’s a good metaphor to show that we can use our mistakes to help change our future for the better. This is the sentiment that should be expressed by Jets offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett.
Before coming to New York, the former Broncos head coach spent years working his way up the NFL ladder. Before working in Green Bay led to his first head coach job, Hackett was an offensive coordinator for four seasons. No season was more vital for Hackett than the 2017 Jacksonville Jaguars. Led by one of the most historic defenses of all time, their offense was orchestrated by the incumbent Jets coach. With Aaron Rodgers out for the season, the 2017 Jaguars are the perfect offense for New York to use with Zach Wilson.
“Hack to the Future”: Why the 2017 Jaguars Can Save Zach Wilson
In 2017, the league became enamored with Doug Marone and the Jacksonville Jaguars. With five players on defense earning All-Pro honors, the Jaguars would earn an AFC Championship appearance before losing to Tom Brady and the Patriots. Despite missing their first Super Bowl appearance, the season remains one of the best in franchise history. However, defense is only half of the team. Nathaniel Hackett created one of the best running games in the league thanks to Leonard Fournette. The 4th overall pick rushed for over 1,000 yards and 9 touchdowns. The team invested heavily in the running game after losing star receiver Allen Robinson to a torn ACL in Week 1. This leads us to the main focus of this piece; Blake Bortles.
Blake Bortles & Zach Wilson: Two sides of the same inconsistent coin
The parallels between Blake Bortles and Zach Wilson are quite telling. Both men were top 5 picks after standout red-shirt junior seasons who failed to meet expectations immediately. Bortles has had more statistical success than Wilson at this point in Zach’s career. Bortles threw over 4,400 yards and threw 35 touchdown passes in his second season, while Zach Wilson lost the starting job to Mike White and Joe Flacco in his second season. After Hackett was promoted to offensive coordinator, Blake Bortles changed his game. Though he failed to throw over 25 touchdowns, the game began slowing down for him. Hackett became more selective in the passing game and Bortles’ completion percentage benefited. He completed 60% of his passes for the first time and threw 13 interceptions to 21 passing touchdowns.
I believe Wilson, much like Bortles needed a coordinator to slow the game down. The big play ability is there, but both relied heavily on forcing plays that led to turnovers. Providing a strong running game will always benefit the quarterback. It allows them more time to read the defense and prevent turnovers. New York has the personnel with Breece Hall healthy along with Cook, Carter, and Abanikanda. Another benefit includes having a big-play wide receiver like Garrett Wilson to throw too.
With Aaron Rodgers out for the season, New York needs to do everything it can to mold the offense to Zach Wilson’s strengths. Minimize the turnovers, rely on the running game, and game manage with your play-makers on offense. The offensive line needs reinforcements, but Hackett built the blueprint to help Wilson with Blake Bortles. If the Jet’s defense can maintain what fans saw last year and Hackett can get Bortles’ level of production this year, New York should remain in the Wildcard hunt.
Main Photo Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports