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Report: Aaron Rodgers has Nothing to Do With Broncos' Interest in Nathaniel Hackett for HC

What is it about Nathaniel Hackett that the Broncos are drawn to?

The Denver Broncos are still deliberating over who the next head coach will be. The first round of interviews yielded sit-downs with 10 candidates and that list was whittled down to three finalists. 

To wit: Green Bay Packers OC Nathaniel Hackett, Dallas Cowboys DC Dan Quinn, and Los Angeles Rams OC Kevin O'Connell. 

Hackett flew into Denver early Monday for an all-day second interview. However, he boarded a plane out of Centennial Airport back to Green Bay without GM George Paton offering him a contract. 

Quinn is expected to fly to Denver sometime this week for his second interview while O'Connell can't be visited with again until Monday at the soonest per NFL rules relative to coaching cycles and the Conference Championship Games. 

From the outside looking in, it's been fair to wonder how much of Paton's interest in Hackett has to do with the coach's overall propensity for luring veteran quarterback Aaron Rodgers to Denver. Rumors on that front have run rampant. Rodgers has played some of the best football of his career under Hackett's tutelage and recently gushed about his offensive coordinator's worthiness to be a head coach. 

"This is a little overdue, to be honest," Rodgers said Tuesday on The Pat McAfee Show. "He's been around the game a long time. What he did in Jacksonville, I think, was pure magic, getting them within a quarter of the Super Bowl. He's a great coach. I love spending time with him. He's a fantastic teacher. He's incredible in front of the room."

However, despite the obvious Rodgers connection, Hackett's candidacy in Denver has nothing to do with the far-fetched possibility of landing the three-time MVP via trade, according to 9NEWS' Mike Klis

Sources say that contrary to widespread speculation, the Broncos are not giving serious consideration to Hackett in hopes he can also deliver Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. If Hackett gets the Broncos job, it will be on his own merits, which include his impressive work with passing-challenged quarterback Blake Bortles for the 2017 Jacksonville Jaguars.

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Indeed, Hackett's resume stands on its own two feet. As good as Rodgers has been in Hackett's scheme, the job he did with Bortles in Jacksonville is easily the more impressive accomplishment. 

Hackett served as Bortles' position coach in 2015 which saw him produce career highs in passing yards (4,428) and touchdowns (35). The next season, Hackett was promoted to offensive coordinator and Bortles threw for 3,905 yards with a respectable 23-to-16 TD-to-INT ratio. 

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In 2017, the Jaguars had real team success, battling all the way to the AFC title game before falling to New England. That year, Bortles threw for 3,687 yards and 21 touchdowns with 13 picks. 

If you're of the opinion that the next Broncos head coach needs to have a 'QB whisperer' skin hanging on the wall, Hackett is the only one among the finalists with that accomplishment on his resume. O'Connell, a former quarterback himself, has benefitted from Matthew Stafford's arrival but one could argue, the coach presided over the regression of Jared Goff before the Rams dealt him to Detroit. 

Quinn is a defensive-minded coach and is the only former head coach among the finalists. His offensive accomplishments start and end with the Kyle Shanahan era in Atlanta. 

After Shanahan took the San Francisco job, Quinn's offenses in Atlanta were solid, if unspectacular, even with a franchise quarterback playing in his prime (Matt Ryan) and a formidable arsenal of skill-position weapons that included the likes of Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley. 

Hackett didn't get an official offer from the Broncos but as Klis said, it doesn't mean Paton won't extend a contract. However, if he's nothing else, Paton is thorough and he won't rush such a momentous decision. 

Does Paton expect Hackett to singlehandedly recruit Rodgers to Denver, if indeed, the veteran opts to continue his NFL career and if Green Bay acquiesces to trading him? No. Would it be a nice, collateral benefit of making the Hackett hire? 

Of course. Come on. 

Quinn might come to Denver and win over Paton completely but something tells me that the Broncos GM will happily wait until he's sat down with O'Connell again before coming to a decision. That means Broncos fans could be waiting another week or so for a resolution. 


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