Robert Saleh decided not to fire back at Sean Payton Thursday following the Denver Broncos’ head coach’s disparaging comments about the Jets and Nathaniel Hackett.
Aaron Rodgers took a much different approach Sunday.
“It made me feel bad that someone who’s accomplished a lot in the league is that insecure that they have to take another man down to set themselves up for some sort of easy fall if it doesn’t go well for that team this year,” Rodgers said during an interview with NFL Network at Jets practice. “I thought it was way out of line, inappropriate, and I think he needs to keep my coaches’ names out of his mouth.”
Payton is entering his first season as Denver’s head coach, and during an interview with USA Today he railed on the Jets for caring more about publicity than winning, as well as the team’s new offensive coordinator in Nathan Hackett, who served as the Broncos’ head coach last season.
Hackett was the Packers’ offensive coordinator and coached Rodgers in Green Bay prior to taking over in Denver.
His tenure with the Broncos, which began with high expectations stemming from the team’s blockbuster trade to acquire Russell Wilson, went disastrously.
Hackett was fired after 15 games, with the Broncos sitting at 4-11.
“It might have been one of the worst coaching jobs in the history of the NFL,” Payton told the outlet. “That’s how bad it was.”
Payton also ripped all the attention surrounding the Jets – who are featured on this year’s HBO “Hard Knocks” series – since they acquired Rodgers, comparing it to the Broncos last year with Wilson’s arrival.
“It doesn’t happen often where an NFL team or organization gets embarrassed,” Payton said. “And that happened here. Part of it was their own fault, relative to spending so much [expletive] time trying to win the offseason – the PR, the pomp and circumstance, marching people around and all this stuff.”
“We’re not doing any of that. The Jets did that this year. You watch. ‘Hard Knocks,’ all of it. I can see it coming. Remember when [former Washington owner] Dan Snyder put that Dream Team together? I was at the Giants [in 2000]. I was a young coach. I thought, ‘How are we going to compete with them? Deion’s [Sanders] there now.’ That team won eight games or whatever. So, listen … just put the work in.”
Rodgers and Hackett spent three years together in Green Bay and after disappointing 2022 seasons while separated from each other are reunited with the Jets.
They share an extremely close bond.
“I love Nathaniel Hackett,” Rodgers said. “Those comments were very surprising, for a coach to do that to another coach. My love for [Hackett] goes deep. We had some great years together in Green Bay. Kept in touch. Love him and his family, he’s an incredible family man, incredible dad.
“On the field, he’s arguably my favorite coach I’ve ever had in the NFL. His approach to it, how he makes it fun, how he cares about the guys, just how he goes about his business. With respect, with leadership, with honesty, with integrity.”
Payton, who worked as an NFL analyst with Fox while taking a break from coaching last year, apologized for his comments Friday, saying he “still had my Fox hat on and not my coaching hat on.”
The Jets and Broncos play in Denver on Oct. 8.