Hackett is the 38-year-old son of longtime college and NFL coach Paul Hackett; when his father was Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator under Tom Landry from 1986-88, a young Nathaniel served as a team ballboy.
Marrone and Hackett began working together in 2010 at Syracuse University, where Marrone was head coach and Hackett was hired to coach quarterbacks and tight ends. After one season, Hackett was promoted to offensive coordinator.
In 2013, when Marrone was hired as Buffalo Bills head coach, he brought Hackett with him. At just 33, Hackett was an NFL coordinator. Marrone was criticized for the move at the time because Hackett had so little NFL experience (hed been an offensive quality control coach previously with the Bills and Buccaneers), but was so confident in Hackett he didnt interview anyone else for the position.
Their short stint in Buffalo ended in 2015 when Marrone left, and resurfaced in Jacksonville later the same year, at the time as offensive line coach. Hackett was hired as quarterbacks coach and promoted to coordinator during the 2016 season.
Based on the performance of his group and his own performance, Hacketts firing is likely justified. The Jaguars are averaging just 17.9 points per game, 28th in the league, a sharp decline from the 26.1 average last year.
Their Week 11 home loss to the Steelers, when Jacksonville took a 16-0 lead into the fourth quarter and had negative-2 yards in the frame and lost 20-16, was likely the nadir. It was a far cry from earlier this year, when the Jaguars went into Pittsburgh in the playoffs and won, 45-42.
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The Jaguars have been hard hit by injuries: starting left tackle Cam Robinson (ACL), starting center Brandon Linder (knee), tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins (abdominal), tight end/receiver Niles Paul (knee), receiver Jaydon Mickens (ankle) and swing tackle Josh Wells (groin) are all on injured reserve.
It is interesting, however, that a day after a report that Marrones job is safe he found a fall guy, in an attempt to take some of the heat off of himself.
But injuries or not, there seems to be one thing the powers that be in Jacksonville wont acknowledge.
The team is about to have its fourth offensive coordinator since 2014. Do you know what else happened in 2014? The Jaguars drafted Blake Bortles.
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Jedd Fisch started the 2014 season as coordinator, but was fired in December. Greg Olson was the coordinator for 2015, but fired before the calendar turned to November in 2016. Thats when Hackett was promoted. And now hes gone.
But Bortles, he of the 59.3 career completion percentage, 103:74 touchdown-to-interception mark, and just seven career game-winning drives despite the Jaguars losing 24 games by just seven points or less over the last four-plus seasons (some of those deficits may have been too great to overcome, but all?), stays.
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Buffalo fans have had the privilege of watching Kyle Williams and Jerry Hughes wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks for the better part of the last decade.
Williams and Hughes combined for nine tackles and five quarterback hits in the 24-21 victory. The two combined for a sack on Blake Bortles early in the fourth quarter, a play that forced a Jacksonville punt.
The 35-year-old Williams finished the game with the stronger stat line, totaling seven tackles and 1.5 sacks. The interior defender, however, feels as though his chemistry with his defensive line neighbor propelled him to a strong outing.
We had known through the week that there were going to be some spacing issues, and if we can get one on ones, or two on twos in a lot of space, thats where he and I are really good, Williams said. We were able to take advantage of it there. Its always good playing next to a guy like that.
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Chemistry is something that Williams and Hughes have had the opportunity to develop over the years, as theyve been teammates since Hughes arrived in the 2013 season. Playing with a player of Williams caliber is something that Hughes takes pride in.
here. It’s an exciting win and it’s definitely, hopefully, going to carry some momentum into next
Weve been playing with each other for so long now, so whenever Kyles on my side, I have a feel for him, Hughes said. I know where hes at, I know how he gets off on the ball. So, whenever we start to do those twists, its just fun, because its just two guys working off each other.
Levi Wallace wasnt exactly a household name in the lead up to the 2018 draft. The walk-on turned starter at Alabama was looked at as a jack of all trades, master of none; a reliable defender who didnt really excel at one thing in particular.
Its only fitting that Wallaces NFL opportunity came as a walk on, of sorts. The cornerback signed with the Bills after going undrafted and spent the first nine weeks of the 2018 season on Buffalos practice squad. In need of a steady player who could lineup opposite TreDavious White, the Bills promoted Wallace to their active roster ahead of their Week 10 contest with the Jets.
Wallace not only got the start at cornerback just days after being promoted, but he played on 100 percent of Buffalos defensive snaps, as well, the only defender to do so.
Questions remain about Allens ability to play quarterback at the NFL level. Hes still thrown more interceptions than touchdowns and he can be inaccurate. But theres no doubting his ability to move the ball down the field, and that alone has helped the Bills offense.
The rookie started at cornerback for the Bills again in Week 12, totaling five tackles. After the 24-21 win over the Jags, safety Micah Hyde praised his teammate, stating that hes carried his momentum from the practice squad over into the starting lineup.
Boys a playmaker, man, Hyde said. Hes another stud, another young stud that we have. Hes played a lot of good football in his day. People may say hes a rookie free agent coming in, but we know what type of stuff hes able to do.
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Hes done it all year for us, ever since he got here. Hes been making plays on scout team. Were excited for what he brings to the table.
Less than 10 minutes into his second game in a Buffalo uniform, Isaiah McKenzie accomplished a lifelong goal.
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He took a handoff on an end around and strolled into the end zone from six yards out, scoring the first touchdown of his professional career.
That felt great, McKenzie said. Ive been (in the end zone) in preseason, but this is the regular season. To help this team win and get in the end zone, it felt great.
Though McKenzies only been with the Bills for three weeks, hes already made quite an impact. He totaled 121 yards on nine touches in his debut, a 41-10 rout of the Jets. The second-year wideout carried this momentum over into Week 12, picking up 75 yards on nine total touches in Buffalos win over the Jags.
Im very comfortable, McKenzie said. Im working every day. Im learning new things, still learning the offense and things like that. Just doing my job the best way I can.
Rookie quarterback Josh Allen had the opportunity to play with McKenzie for the first time on Sunday. Allen, who found the wideout twice throughout the contest, feels as though McKenzie has already carved out a spot for himself in the Bills lineup.
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Thats what Isaiah brings to the table, Allen said. Hes extremely quick and gets zero to 100 as quick as you can.
Being cut by the Broncos and the highs and lows hes been through, to see him fit a role and hes excelling in it so its good to see that.