JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – When Nathaniel Hackett was promoted to the offensive coordinator for the Jaguars he was described as a “little Gus.” Hackett has the same level of energy and enthusiasm Gus Bradley brings every day but it’s focused on one thing: the offense. Last week against Kansas City the Jaguars offense showed signs of improvement. They ran the ball, Blake Bortles played a little better and they were in it until the end. Part of that is because of the continued development of Marquise Lee. Possibly the best offensive player this year, Lee has figured out how to be a professional athlete with his approach on training, rest, nutrition and pre-practice and game routines.
“Marqise has that ‘X’ button that allows him to take off down the field.,” Hackett said with his usual enthusiasm on Thursday. “He has lot of juice and a lot of speed. He does a lot of different things compared to the other guys. You have A-Rob, the big guy. You have Hurnsy, the nifty guy. You even have Rashad Greene, B-Walt [Bryan Walters] and AB [Arrelious Benn]. He runs angry. He runs fast, which is awesome.”
Even Hackett agrees that he’s itching to get going and see what the Jaguars offense can do.
I’m always fired up,” he said in classic understatement. “So I kind of see everyone getting that confidence [The players] getting a feel for me and me getting a feel for them.”
In midseason, every NFL team deals with injuries. The Jaguars are not immune, signing WR Tony Washington to the practice squad on Thursday. Both Allen Hurns and Bryan Walters remain in the NFL’s concussion protocol program Hurns was limited in practice Thursday but it appears Walters will miss Sunday’s game. That limits what the offense can do in practice, in turn limiting what Hackett can feel confident with on Sunday.”
“You want to see what that picture is going to look like and you challenge the guys, ‘Hey, when you guys go out there if you make it look good that’s going to make us want to call it.’ I think it’s always an audition of if you love this play let’s make it work. Anytime you don’t have that practice aspect you have to go on feel and hope and maybe.
One thing Hackett showed differently than Greg Olson was a commitment to the run game. During numerous drives, the Jaguars ran the ball on back-to-back plays. It added up to over 200 yards rushing at the end of the day including Bortles scrambling yards. They got over 100 from Chris Ivory, including a dynamic 42-yard gain from their own eight-yard line.
“I get a little emotional. I get really excited,” Hackett explained without a tinge of embarrassment. “That’s what this game is about. It’s a fun and exciting game that has a lot of impacts on it. It’s a forceful – it’s about another guy beating the next guy in front of him.”
Although they’re 2-6 and 0-1 with Hackett as the OC, it hasn’t dampened his enthusiasm to try and get the job done. And apparently the players embrace his high-energy style.
“I love that about them. Even when I was here last week, walking in there they were like, ‘Hey, let’s go.’ That’s the type of group they are. I haven’t had the situation that they have looked back at all. They just want to go forward.”