Hackett: First order of business, fixing the run game


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A different vision is what Gus Bradley had in mind when he fired Greg Olson and promoted Nathaniel Hackett from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator. Hackett takes over an offense that has struggled across the board. The Jaguars rank 26th in the NFL in total offense. They are 31st in rushing and last in third-down percentage.

Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs won’t be the first time that Hackett is calling plays in an NFL game. He was the Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator from 2013-14. What he learned during that experience is developing a consistent running game is how you get an offense going.

“The quarterback’s best friend is the run game,” said Hackett during Monday’s press conference. “If you can develop a run game that’s always going to help you, but it has to be balanced. It goes both ways. When you look at the whole thing it just hasn’t been successful.”

In Buffalo, Hackett directed an offense that finished second in the NFL in rush yards per game (144.2) during the 2013 season. Although the Jaguars have a different scheme and roster, Hackett plans to mix in some of those philosophies here in Jacksonville.

“It’s something that I now need to look at from a different perspective, said Hackett. “A lot of time I was just working with Blake [Bortles] in the pass game. I really need to throw myself into the run game. And that’s something that I’ve always loved.”

Hackett has spent the past year and a half working with Bortles on an everyday basis as his quarterback coach. Now that Hackett has been promoted, Bortles will be on his third offensive coordinator in just three seasons in the league.

“I think Hackett has a good plan and a good vision,” said Bortles. “We went through it this morning and talked about some different things he wanted to do. We had to clean up some attention to details and stay on top of that. We have to find out who we are and what we do well.”

Outside of completion percentage, Bortles numbers are down across the board this season compared to last. A big reason why is his mechanics appear to have regressed to the level they were during his rookie season. Over the past two summers Bortles has spent time in California working with quarterback guru’s Tom House and Adam Dedeaux. In the past they’ve been able to help clean up his throwing motion. Bortles is hoping that a mid-season visit can fix some of his issues.

“I’ve got Adam coming in this afternoon,” said Bortles. “So I’ll throw with him today and tomorrow. Hopefully we’ll try and tighten some things up and get back to where I was throwing the ball most efficient.”

Bortles has been very honest in acknowledging that he hasn’t played well this season. Have to give him credit for exhausting every resource he has in order to improve.  

“Like anything else when you struggle doing what you’re supposed to do all the time, I think you try and fix it as quick as possible rather than let it get worse," said Bortles.

Both Bortles and Hackett will have their work cut out for them. Sunday they’ll face a Chiefs defense that’s eighth in the NFL in points allowed per game (19.6) and tied for first in the league with 16 forced turnovers.