When Sean Payton took over as head coach of the Denver Broncos he made sure to let it be known that he thought Nathaniel Hackett and the previous regime had done a terrible job. In fact, he called it one of the “worst coaching jobs in NFL history” and insisted things would turn around under his leadership.
On Sunday afternoon, Hackett returned to Denver for the first time since he was fired, as he is now the offensive coordinator for the New York Jets. Many had circled this game on the preseason schedule, particularly with Aaron Rodgers taking exception at Payton’s shot at Hackett. However, after four weeks of play, the two teams each entered at 1-3 on the season with Rodgers out for the year with an Achilles tear and Zach Wilson back under center. On the other side, the Broncos have struggled finishing games and while Russell Wilson has looked improved from last year, the team as a whole hasn’t been able to get across the finish line for wins.
That trend continued on Sunday as the Jets and Broncos went back-and-forth, with New York eventually taking a 24-21 lead in the fourth quarter. A Wilson interception deep in Broncos territory with just over two minutes to go gave Denver some life, but they’d need to move the ball into field goal range at least to force OT. After a couple completions, the Jets decided to turn up the pressure on Wilson and the result was a game-clinching strip sack by Quincy Williams that got scooped up on the sideline by Bryce Hall, who kept running all the way to the end zone.
ONCE AGAIN, YOU CAN’T MAKE THIS STUFF UP!!!
— NFL (@NFL) October 8, 2023
It’s the Jets first win since that bizarre opening night game against the Bills, and it has to be a bit extra sweet for New York to get back in the win column given Payton’s preseason comments about Hackett. As for Payton, given how much he talked about turning things around before the season there isn’t much room for him to pass blame to anyone but himself for the 1-4 start in Denver. Wilson has looked better but the team as a whole just isn’t there, particularly on defense where they continue to give up a ton of points. Now, he has to deal with the indignity of losing to a Hackett coached offense quarterbacked by Wilson and deal with plenty of questions heading into the meat of the AFC West schedule.