JACKSONVILLE – Nathaniel Hackett called the past few days an "emotional roller coaster."
But the new Jaguars' offensive coordinator said his focus is more on the future than the immediate past – and his task for the immediate future is clear:
Find a way to improve the Jaguars' offense. And fast.
"We've got work to do to get better and get back on a good track," Hackett said Monday during his first media availability as Jaguars offensive coordinator.
Hackett, 36, was promoted to his new position Saturday, the same day Head Coach Gus Bradley dismissed Greg Olson from the position. Hackett, who spent 2013 and 2014 as offensive coordinator of the Buffalo Bills, spent 2015 and the start of this season as the Jaguars' quarterbacks coach.
Bradley on Monday said while Hackett will bring a different "feel," the offense's system and "verbiage" will remain the same as that used with Olson as the coordinator.
"We know we have our system in place, but within that system – how we wanted to go about it – we've had great conversations," Bradley said.
Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles expressed optimism that Hackett can be the sparkplug of the offense, calling Hackett a "little ball of energy."
"That's kind of his personality," Bortles said. "That's who he is."
The Jaguars through seven games this season rank 28th in the NFL in total offense, and have struggled to produce points during the first half of games. They have been shut out three times in the first half this season, and have scored six first-half points in the last three games.
Bortles also has struggled, throwing 12 touchdowns and nine interceptions after throwing 35 touchdowns with 18 interceptions last season.
"Anytime you get an opportunity to call a play in the NFL, it's unbelievable," Hackett said. "This is the greatest profession in the world. To be able to just have that chance to call a play, to be out in front of the crowd, to be out there with those guys. And really it's about them.
"The play-calling is one of those things it's more about the vision and about loving to coach during practice and showing them and teaching them. That's what I love."
Bradley cited as reasons for Hackett's hiring not only his NFL play-calling experience, but his relationship with the team's quarterbacks, receivers and running backs and offensive line.
"He knows all the position groups and they know him and they know his style," Bradley said.
A few takeaways from Monday around the Jaguars:
*Hackett and Bradley both said reestablishing the Jaguars' running game will be a priority. The team entered the season seeking balance but ranks 31st in the NFL in rushing yards. The team has rushed for more than 100 yards in a game just once this season, rushing for 136 yards in a 30-27 victory over Indianapolis in Week 4. "The best thing in the world for a quarterback is the run game," Hackett said, adding, "Even if it doesn't work, they still have to defend it. So I think that you always are going to want to try and run the ball as much as you can and try to force that envelope, but still have things to get off of. You want to have enough to have them defend everything." Bradley said it's important to run better so that defenses had to concentrate on defending both the run and pass. "We have to get that element of surprise back to help our offensive line," Bradley said.
*If there was a common thread through Jaguars' players' comments regarding Hackett it focused on his attention to detail. Tight end Marcedes Lewis compared Hackett on this front to former Jaguars offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, now the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. "The main thing he communicated to us is we all have to be on the same page," wide receiver Allen Hurns said. "We have to know why we're running this play and everyone has to know all of their assignments. The main thing for him is everyone has to know why. That makes it better for us. We believe in it, so guys will go out and there and execute."
*Hackett throughout his meeting with the media expressed confidence in Bortles. "I love Blake," Hackett said. "Everybody keeps telling me there are things wrong with him and I understand that because we're not winning, but he's also done a lot of really good things and I think that sometimes people try to focus on all the negative things with Blake. I don't really do that. I try to look at more of the positive things and see how we can do those more to get him into a more comfort level." …
*Hackett on the difference between him and Olson: "I think there is going to be somewhat of a different vision. It's not that there's any philosophical difference between me and Coach Olson, it's just I might at that time look at it different and call it different or at the same time, I might do some of the same things. It's one of those things that will go back and forth."