Aaron Rodgers is sticking by his offensive coordinator and firing his hardest throw of the summer at Sean Payton.
The Jets quarterback was bothered by critical comments Payton, the Denver Broncos’ head coach, recently made about New York offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, Payton’s predecessor in Denver. Payton told USA Today for a story published Thursday that Hackett’s 15-game stint as head coach of the Broncos last season “was one of the worst coaching jobs in the history of the NFL.″
Payton also said there were “20 dirty hands” around nine-time Pro Bowl quarterback Russell Wilson’s career-worst season in his first year on the Broncos, and took some shots at the Jets — Hackett’s new team, where he and Rodgers are reunited after enjoying success together on the Green Bay Packers.
“It made me feel bad that someone who has accomplished a lot in the league is that insecure that they have to take another man down to set themselves up for some sort of easy fall if it doesn’t go well for that team this year,” Rodgers told NFL Network on Sunday. “I think it was way out of line, inappropriate, and I think he needs to keep my coaches’ names out of his mouth.”
Rodgers, acquired by New York in April from Green Bay, said Hackett is “arguably my favorite coach I’ve ever had in the NFL.” The pair was together for two of Rodgers’ four NFL MVP awards in 2020 and 2021 with the Packers.
During the interview with USA Today’s Jarrett Bell, Payton also criticized the Jets for being the latest NFL team “trying to win the offseason” — something he said the Broncos under Hackett tried to do and were “embarrassed.”
Jets coach Robert Saleh said Thursday “Hackett’s doing a phenomenal job here” when asked about Payton’s comments. He also said the Jets are just focused on themselves, but recognizes “there’s a lot of people that are hatin’ on us and a lot of people looking for us to fail.”
Payton on Friday said he regretted his comments in which he disparaged Hackett, and said he would reach out to Hackett and Saleh “at the right time” to do so.
[FOX Sports Insider: The Sean Payton-Nathaniel Hackett beef is exactly the drama the NFL needs]
Rodgers told NFL Network he thought Payton’s initial comments “were very surprising, for a coach to do that to another coach.”
Jets HC Robert Saleh responds to Sean Payton’s criticism: ‘Hate Away’
Meanwhile, the back-and-forth made the Jets’ matchup in Denver in Week 5 on Oct. 8 a bit juicier. Payton acknowledged Friday his comments “certainly will bring more interest to the game when we play them, but that seems like years from now.”
Reporting by The Associated Press.
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