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Jets OC Nathaniel Hackett aims to be 'best version' of himself in reunion with Aaron Rodgers

Nathaniel Hackett wants to be in a better place than he was in 2022.

Familiarity should help. Hackett is back in the role of offensive coordinator, this time with the New York Jets, for whom he'll direct an offense executed by none other than his old pal, Aaron Rodgers.

Expectations are understandably high. For Hackett, after a season spent as head coach of a Denver Broncos team that fell remarkably short of its goals, he's just glad to be in a place of comfort and out of the brightest of spotlights.

"It's not about me. It isn't," Hackett told Good Morning Football's Peter Schrager on The Season podcast. "The only thing I would say that it is about me is I just want to be the best version of myself. ... If I can then portray that to those players, then they're gonna be able to get out on that field and they're gonna be able to execute at a high level, and that's all that I want.

"I just want to see Aaron play some of the best football he's ever played in his career. That was something that was so fun to be a part of when we were at Green Bay, and I want to see him get to where he wants to be, accomplish what he wants to accomplish."

Hackett has reason to feel good about his reunion with Rodgers. After three seasons spent together in Green Bay, neither fared very well while apart in 2022. Sometimes, as the saying goes, absence makes the heart grow fonder. In the same vein, it also makes one appreciate what they once had in each other.

Hackett's history with Rodgers -- which included two NFL MVP-winning seasons -- should serve as enough proof that they'll be productive again in 2023, provided Rodgers' age (40 years old in December) doesn't contribute to a significant decline. An innate understanding of each other developed in their time in Green Bay will help them start the season with momentum. It should also be beneficial within the flow of each game.

"I think there's going to be some freedom with Aaron, and as we moved forward in the Green Bay system, there was definitely more freedom as we went," Hackett said. "We're just gonna continue that because you've got to take advantage of a guy like Aaron that is so smart and understands it. So, [we're] trying to build this thing for him and build it so that when he sees certain things, he can do all kind of stuff and put us in the best position possible."

This isn't a coach and quarterback getting to know each other for the first time. It is, however, a reunion that comes with expectation.

Because of Rodgers' arrival to a Jets team filled with young talent, New York will be on national television six times in the 2023 season. Coach Robert Saleh will encounter the biggest stage of his career as the top director, and he'll need to lean on the likes of Rodgers and Hackett to succeed.

Hackett believes their past will prove essential to their future. It's tough to argue with previous results -- but the most important ones are still ahead.

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