'There's a code': Jets OC Nathaniel Hackett calls Sean Payton's criticism 'unfortunate'

In his first public comments since Broncos coach Sean Payton ripped the job he did last year in Denver, New York Jets offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett called the remarks "unfortunate" but said they have brought his new team together.

"I've been involved in this business my whole life, 43 years, as a coach, as a coach's kid," Hackett said Tuesday in a news conference. "We live in a glass house. We know that.

"It's one of those things where there’s a code. There’s a way things are done in that house. This past week, it's frustrating and it sucks, but we're all susceptible to it. There are things that you do, mistakes that you make and it costs you time on the field, your job, all those things. I own all that stuff. I got no excuses. It’s unfortunate that that had to happen, the comments that were made, but, hey, they did."

In January, the Jets hired Hackett, who was fired by the Broncos last season after a Week 16 loss, as offensive coordinator. Denver struggled significantly last season under Hackett, going 4-11, and new quarterback Russell Wilson set career lows in completion percentage (60.5%), passing touchdowns (16) and quarterback rating (84.4).

In an exclusive interview with USA TODAY Sports' Jarrett Bell, Payton said that Hackett's time in Denver "might have been one of the worst coaching jobs in the history of the NFL. That’s how bad it was."

The Jets will travel to Denver to face the Broncos in a Week 5 game that has become highly anticipated after Payton's comments.

"I was probably more surprised that they happened now," Hackett added. "I was definitely expecting them in Week 5. So I'm almost thankful that we got that out of the way."

New York Jets offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett speaks to reporters at the team's NFL football practice facility in Florham Park, N.J., Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2023.
New York Jets offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett speaks to reporters at the team's NFL football practice facility in Florham Park, N.J., Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2023.

What else did Nathaniel Hackett say about Sean Payton?

Hackett added that Payton, who expressed remorse in a news conference the day after the interview published, has not called him to apologize, even though Payton had said he would do so.

"It is what it is," Hackett said. "We move on."

Several Jets players and coaches have come to Hackett's defense in light of Payton's comments, with quarterback Aaron Rodgers, one of Hackett's primary champions, and offensive tackle Billy Turner being the most prominent.

"You can always look at that silver lining and, man, this organization and these players, the coaches, (Robert) Saleh, just the entire organization ... just everybody has been unbelievable. That's just something that has been awesome. It brought out team together."

What did Aaron Rodgers say about Sean Payton?

During an interview Sunday with NFL Network, Aaron Rodgers called Sean Payton "insecure" and said that Payton's comments were a way to set himself up for "an easy fall" if the Broncos struggle in 2023.

"I thought it was way out of line, inappropriate, and I think he needs to keep my coach's name out of his mouth," Rodgers added.

What else have the Jets said about Sean Payton's comments?

Turner, who was a member of the Broncos last season under Hackett, called Payton an "(expletive) bum." Turner ended the social media post with a #BountyGate hashtag, in reference to the scandal for which Payton was suspended the entire 2012 season.

Jets head coach Robert Saleh defended Hackett, saying he thought the coordinator was doing a "phenomenal job" with the team. Saleh and Hackett had previously been on the same staff in 2015-16 with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

"I'm not going to acknowledge Sean," Saleh said Thursday during his news conference. "He's been in the league a while. He can say whatever the hell he wants. But as far as what we have going on here, I kind of live by the saying, 'If you ain't got no haters, you ain't poppin.' So hate away. Obviously, we're doing something right if you gotta talk about us when we don't play you till (Week 5). And I'm good with it. The guys in our locker room, they've earned everything that's coming to them."

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Nathaniel Hackett responds to Sean Payton's criticism: 'Unfortunate'