NY Jets already trying out possible Nathaniel Hackett replacement

Are the Jets considering replacing Nathaniel Hackett?
Nathaniel Hackett
Nathaniel Hackett / Chris Pedota, NorthJersey.com / USA

The NY Jets have managed to construct a roster with few glaring holes ahead of a season in which the team fully expects to compete for a Super Bowl title.

A returning Aaron Rodgers should elevate an improved offense, the defense remains elite at all three levels, the team's special-teams unit is one of the best in the NFL, and even their defensive coaching is outstanding.

If there were one weakness with this Jets team, however, it would be their offensive coaching. More specifically, offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. The Jets seem to know that.

The organization went to great lengths to search for a pseudo-replacement for Hackett this offseason, unfortunately to no avail. That doesn't mean they're just content with what they have, however.

The Jets already seem to be trying out potential contingency plans if Hackett's offense struggles as it did a year ago. That contingency plan is quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator Todd Downing.

The NY Jets eyeing Todd Downing as a Nathaniel Hackett contingency plan

During the Jets' final spring practice of minicamp on Wednesday, Downing was seen calling plays during the team's two-minute drill while Hackett watched from the sideline. This is despite the fact that Jets head coach Robert Saleh has insisted that Hackett will be the team's offensive play-caller again in 2024.

SNY's Connor Hughes is reporting that Saleh's goal here was to "give the coordinators and coaches different perspectives from what they normally do," noting that the Jets also tried this out on the defensive side of the ball.

While that may be the case, it's hard not to see this as the Jets assessing their options in case the Hackett experiment fails again. Downing is the most obvious potential replacement.

The Minnesota native has had multiple stints as an offensive coordinator in the NFL, most recently with the Tennessee Titans from 2021-22. He didn't exactly receive rave reviews for his work with the Titans, resulting in his firing after the 2022 season.

Saleh made it clear this offseason that he plans to have more of a role in the offense this season. It's likely that Saleh, Hackett, and Downing will all be involved in the offensive game-planning and play-calling come Week 1.

The Jets are trusting that Aaron Rodgers will be able to overcome Hackett's deficiencies and essentially lead the Jets offense on his own. That's partially the formula that led to Rodgers' success with Hackett in Green Bay.

It seems like everyone inside and outside the organization is aware of Hackett's shortcomings. They're keeping him around for Rodgers' sake while preparing possible contingency plans in case things go south again.