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Behind the scenes, Nathaniel Hackett has been integral part of Packers' offensive success

Green Bay’s second-year coordinator is the “glue guy” bringing offense together

Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett and QB Aaron Rodgers
Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett and QB Aaron Rodgers

GREEN BAY –Whenever a timeout is called in an NFL game, network cameras tend to gravitate to wherever the head coach and the quarterback are congregating.

It's a rinse-and-repeat technique often used to transition into a commercial or give commentators B-roll to illustrate a point they might be making on the broadcast.

For the better part of 1½ years, Packers Head Coach Matt LaFleur and quarterback Aaron Rodgers have been the visual representation of Green Bay's turnaround whenever there's a break in the action and rightfully so.

The Packers have won 20 of 26 games with LaFleur calling offensive plays and Rodgers again playing at an MVP level, but the image of head coach and quarterback doesn't tell the full story of the offensive interworkings in Green Bay. 

Somewhere in the stadium, where cameras rarely travel, is offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, LaFleur's eye-in-the-sky on game days and a vital component of the offensive structure and plan throughout the course of the week.

The extroverted, high-energy son of legendary West Coast offense practitioner Paul Hackett, Nathaniel has proven to be the perfect consigliere to LaFleur – not only when it comes to drawing up X's and O's, but also as it relates to the cultural shift that's swept through the Packers' locker room over the past two years.

"There's nobody in the building that brings me more joy or is more fun to be around than Nathaniel Hackett," said Rodgers on Wednesday. "He's become such a close confidant and friend besides a fantastic coach. I just really, really can't express enough how important he is to our team in so many ways."

Rodgers felt good about Hackett's hire in February 2019, based on their mutual friend, Alex Van Pelt, Rodgers' former position coach in Green Bay who now serves as the offensive coordinator in Cincinnati.

A first-time head coach, LaFleur faced a critical decision about whom he wanted to assist him in developing the Packers' offensive scheme and implementing it on a weekly basis.

Unlike many of the assistants LaFleur hired, Hackett hadn't worked directly with him but the two had formed a convenient friendship over the years when they often partnered together to interview prospects at the annual NFL Scouting Combine.

Hackett's football IQ came as advertised, especially after a two-year stint calling offensive plays for Jacksonville, but what has blown away LaFleur the most is the energy Hackett brings into the building every day.

"He's our 'glue guy,' he puts it all together, man," LaFleur said. "He's one of the most organized guys, people, I've ever been around. He can do the job of about four people. He is a machine that can just knock out work. He's so intelligent, knows everything that's going on, whether it's in the O-line room, quarterback room, tight ends, running backs, doesn't matter.

"I know this: We wouldn't be where we are today without him."

In addition to his daily in-season duties, Hackett also had a hand in how the Packers handled the virtual offseason program this past spring in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hackett used his connections in teaching to learn how to get the most out of Zoom meetings with players, even bringing in a friend in the profession to give tips to the coaching staff on how to keep players engaged virtually.

"He brings a lot of great energy," Rodgers said. "That's really important to not just meetings that can sometimes, without the energy he infuses, maybe get long. It never feels that way with him in front of the room.

"Hack has really embraced the idea of celebration together, as well, which I think is such a vital part of us coming together and being a close-knit group."

Heading into Sunday's game against the Jaguars, Green Bay ranks inside the top 10 in all major offensive categories – including third in scoring (31.6 points per game), seventh in total offense (395.9 yards per game), and seventh in red-zone offense (74.2%).

Meanwhile, Rodgers leads the NFL with a 117.5 passer rating and is completing passes at a 67.5% clip, his highest percentage since his first MVP season in 2011. He's on pace for a career-high 48 touchdown passes and a career-low 18 sacks.

What's more, the Packers have done it despite a slew of injuries with All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari (three games), top receivers Davante Adams (two games) and Allen Lazard (five games), running backs Aaron Jones (two games) and Jamaal Williams (one game) all missing time.

While Hackett might not get all the attention, the 40-year-old assistant coach has been a big part of the Packers' winning formula.

"Obviously we know his background, know who his dad is, just the long line of coaching greatness that he kind of comes from," said Adams of Hackett. "You can definitely see it and feel it as a player on the team – just being coached up by him, day to day, the details, just the way his mind works – and also just his personality, almost more than anything, is something that we love and we feed off of."

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