The New York Jets weren’t too happy when they heard Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton blast their offensive coordinator and ex-Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett.
In an interview with USA Today, Payton called Hackett’s 15-game tenure with the Broncos “one of the worst coaching jobs in the history of the NFL” after the Broncos went 4-11 under Hackett. Payton went on to blame Hackett for Denver’s downtrodden season as well as Russell Wilson’s career-low performance. The Jets hired Hackett to be their offensive coordinator months after the Broncos fired him.
“I live by the saying, ‘If you ain’t got no haters, you ain’t popping.’ So hate away,” Jets head coach Robert Saleh told reporters after hearing Payton’s comments. “Obviously, we’re doing something right if you’ve gotta talk about us when we don’t play until Week . And I’m good with that.”
Payton also took a cursory shot at the Jets and compared their offseason hype to what Hackett’s Broncos received before the 2022 season. He pointed out New York being featured on this season of HBO’s “Hard Knocks” as an example of unnecessary and perhaps detrimental attention, even though Saleh and quarterback Aaron Rodgers already publicly said they didn’t want to be featured on the show.
Saleh wasn’t the only one to respond to Payton. Jets offensive tackle Billy Turner, who played for Hackett with the Green Bay Packers from 2019-21 and with the Broncos in 2022, called Payton a “[expletive] bum,” while cornerback D.J. Reed and tackle Mekhi Becton applauded Saleh for his comments.
As for the Hackett hate, Saleh stood by his offensive coordinator. The two worked together for one year with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Hackett’s hiring seemingly played a role in Rodgers’ decision to push for a trade to New York. So even though Hackett may have had a bad year as a head coach, Saleh appears happy to have him run the offense.
“I think Hackett’s doing a phenomenal job here,” Saleh added. “… I get it. There’s a lot of external noise. There’s a lot of people who are hating on us. There’s a lot of people looking for us to fail. There’s a lot of crows pecking at our neck. But all you can do is spread your wings, keep flying high, until those crows fall off and suffocate from the inability to breathe.”
The Jets have already soared up the preseason power rankings and betting odds. New York is tied for the sixth-best odds to win the Super Bowl (+1600, per BetMGM) alongside the Dallas Cowboys and have the second-best odds to win the AFC East (+250).
So the hype is real, but won’t be fully realized until Week 1 when the Jets take on the three-time defending division champion Buffalo Bills. And four weeks later, New York heads to Denver to face Payton and the Broncos with a very clear piece of bulletin board material.