Jets’ Nathaniel Hackett hits back at Broncos head coach Sean Payton’s criticism about his ill-fated spell in Denver: ‘There’s a code’

Nathaniel Hackett isn’t expecting a phone call from an apologetic Sean Payton any time soon.

The New York Jets offensive coordinator was disappointed by disparaging comments made by Denver coach last week in a story published by USA Today in which he called Hackett’s 15-game stint with the Broncos last season ‘one of the worst coaching jobs in the history of the NFL.’

Hackett, hired by the Jets during the offseason, said Payton – without ever mentioning him by name – broke an unwritten code among coaches with his public criticism.

‘Before we get started, I just want to say something real quick,’ Hackett said Tuesday to open his first news conference of training camp. ‘Obviously, last week has been a very unique week, I think, for this organization. And, I’ve been involved in this business my whole life, 43 years. And as a coach, as a coach’s kid, we live in a glass house. We know that. We all live in different rooms. We’ve all got a key for it.

‘And it’s one of those things that there’s a code, there’s a way things are done in that house. And, you know, this past week, it’s frustrating and it sucks, but we’re all susceptible to it.’

Jets offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett countered Sean Payton’s comments on Tuesday

Sean Payton - the Broncos head coach - took over from Hackett in Denver earlier this offseason

Sean Payton – the Broncos head coach – took over from Hackett in Denver earlier this offseason

Payton, who’s back on the sideline after a yearlong sabbatical, criticized the work Hackett and his staff did during Denver’s 5-12 season, saying there were ’20 dirty hands’ around Russell Wilson’s career-worst year.

Hackett acknowledged he made some mistakes in his first stint as an NFL head coach – ‘I own all that stuff. … I’ve got no excuses’ – but was bothered by Payton saying what he did.

‘It’s unfortunate that that had to happen, that the comments that were made,’ Hackett said. ‘But, hey, I’ll tell you, I was probably more surprised that they happened now. I was definitely expecting them in Week 5 (when the teams play this season). So I’m almost thankful that we got that out of the way.’

Payton said last Friday he regretted disparaging his predecessor in the interview, as well as taking shots at the Jets, and that he would call Hackett and New York head coach Robert Saleh ‘at the right time.’

Hackett said on Tuesday he had not heard from Payton. He was then asked if he expected the Broncos coach to apologize.

‘No,’ Hackett said bluntly. He was then asked if he would answer if Hackett called.

Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers (R) came to Hackett's defense in light of Payton's comments

Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers (R) came to Hackett’s defense in light of Payton’s comments 

Robert Saleh said he expected Payton's remarks to come in Week 5 when both teams matchup

Robert Saleh said he expected Payton’s remarks to come in Week 5 when both teams matchup

‘I’ve never met the guy, so let’s get on from it,’ Hackett said. ‘That was last week. We can move on from it. Same glass house.’

Saleh said last Thursday that Hackett is ‘doing a phenomenal job here’ when asked about Payton’ss comments. He also said the Jets are just focused on themselves but that he recognizes ‘there’s a lot of people that are hatin’ on us and a lot of people looking for us to fail.’

Rodgers told the NFL Network on Sunday he thought Payton’s comments were ‘way out of line, inappropriate, and I think he needs to keep my coaches’ names out of his mouth.’

Rodgers reiterated those comments on Tuesday, saying he has ‘a lot of love for Nathaniel’ and was bothered by what Payton said.

‘I think that there was a lot of people that felt that way,’ Rodgers said. ‘I think there’s a lot of people that were surprised by the comments. 

‘Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion, and you don’t have to like it – and I didn’t like it at all. That’s why I say what I said.’

Hackett smiled when he was asked if he’s looking forward to the Jets’ matchup with the Broncos on October 8.

‘Just another game,’ he said.