All the coaches involved in Sunday’s New York Jets-Denver Broncos tilt have downplayed Sean Payton’s training camp comments on Nathaniel Hackett. That doesn’t mean players have forgotten about the slight.
Center Connor McGovern told ESPN’s Rich Cimini players want to get “payback” for their offensive coordinator.
“He got thrown under the bus — and then they tried to drag him under the bus,” McGovern said. “We wanted to rally around him from the start. He’s such a good guy. I don’t know how you want to say this — the opportunity he has — but we want to make the most of him being our play-caller.
“He’s a phenomenal coach, crazy smart, and he makes meetings really fun and easy to learn. So, he’s definitely a guy that you want to play hard for. Then to go to a place that was dogging a guy that’s so nice and so good at his job, and for him to get thrown under the bus and dragged through the mud, you definitely want to play that much harder.”
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In late July, Payton criticized the job Hackett did when head coach of the Broncos last season, calling it “one of the worst coaching jobs in the history of the NFL.” Payton has since called the comments a “mistake.” This week, Hackett dismissed the idea that the quotes motivate him in any way in his return to Denver.
“Let’s put it this way, everyone,” Hackett told reporters. “This game is about those guys out on that field. This game is not about me, it’s about me helping them during the week. I just want the guys to go out there and play a great game.”
Those Jets players have Hackett’s back.
“We rally behind Hack, regardless,” Jets tackle Alijah Vera-Tucker said. “I think this week there may be a little bigger chip on some of the guys’ shoulders just because the comments that were made before.”
Both clubs enter Sunday’s game at 1-3.
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