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Friday, January 18, 2019

Football

Packers reportedly hire Nathaniel Hackett as new offensive coordinator

Green Bay Packers logo

The Green Bay Packers continue to improve their offense staff around quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, the Packers have hired former Jacksonville Jaguars offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett to fulfill the same role under new head coach Matt LaFleur.

Hackett was fired by the Jaguars this season, having served in the role since 2016. He seemed to feel he was scapegoated when it happened as Jacksonville, lacking an NFL-caliber starting quarterback, floundered throughout much of the season. Going from Blake Bortles to Rodgers should be quite the upgrade for him.

Report: Vikings hire Gary Kubiak for offensive advisor role

Gary Kubiak

Gary Kubiak is leaving the Denver Broncos to join another NFL organization this offseason, but it will not be for an offensive coordinator job.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that the Minnesota Vikings are hiring Kubiak in an offensive advisory role. Kubiak’s son, Klint, is expected to become the team’s quarterbacks coach, while Kevin Stefanski will return as offensive coordinator.

It’s an interesting turn of events for Kubiak, who initially appeared destined to return to the Broncos’ coaching staff as offensive coordinator. Denver was even blocking him from interviewing with other teams at one point, but the arrangement seemed to fall apart after they hired Vic Fangio as their next head coach.

Kubiak was expected to interview with at least one other team for an OC job, but he apparently heard enough when he sat down with the Vikings.

Nick Foles admits he wants to find starting job for next season

Nick Foles

With free agency pending, Nick Foles has made it clear that he wants to be someone’s starting quarterback in 2019.

Foles said Monday that he would “love to lead a team,” offering up a pretty clear hint of where his priorities will lie if and when he hits the open market.

“Yeah, like I said, I would love to lead a team,” Foles said, via Tim McManus of ESPN. “The starter thing, leading a team, impacting a locker room … that’s why we play the game, to impact people, to create an atmosphere.”

Foles is a Super Bowl winner and has clearly shown himself worthy of the opportunity to quarterback a team. It’s likely that he’s going to have a lot of suitors this offseason, though it remains to be seen how he can hold up in an environment other than Philadelphia.

Scouts do not view Kyler Murray as first-round pick, but does it matter?

Kyler Murray

Kyler Murray announced on Monday that he has decided to enter his name in the NFL Draft, and all indications are that he is serious about pursuing a career in football. Some scouts apparently think that would be a mistake.

Murray can still negotiate a deal with the Oakland A’s to play baseball even though he has declared for the NFL Draft, and both Ian Rapoport of NFL Network and The MMQB’s Albert Breer are reporting that most talent evaluators view him as a second- or third-round pick.

As Breer noted, the opinion scouts have of players and where they end up getting drafted is not always aligned. In fact, that is quite often the case with quarterbacks. Desperate teams in need of quarterbacks generally don’t wait around until the third round and risk missing out on a guy they want, and that would almost certainly end up happening with Murray.

The biggest concern with Murray is obviously his size, as he is listed at 5-foot-10 but is probably an inch shorter than that. That means he is about three inches shorter than fellow Oklahoma Sooner and Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield, who came from the same system as Murray and ended up being the No. 1 overall pick in last year’s draft. Three inches of height may be the difference in scouts grading a player as a first- or third-round prospect, but are teams going to evaluate Murray the same way?

We highly doubt it. There’s a line of thinking that Murray could be doing all of this as a ploy to get more money from the Oakland A’s, but the reality is he probably knows teams that need quarterbacks are willing to draft them higher than talent evaluators think they should. With numerous teams searching for a franchise quarterback, there’s no reason to think he will slip out of the first round. Murray knows that, and it is likely his biggest motivation for pursuing a career in football when the A’s have $5 million waiting for him.

Kyler Murray informs A’s he will enter NFL Draft

Kyler Murray

Kyler Murray has made a decision about which sport he wants to pursue at the professional level, and the Oakland A’s are the ones who will be left disappointed.

Murray submitted paperwork to enter the NFL Draft ahead of Monday’s deadline.

While entering the NFL Draft does not necessarily mean Murray can’t play for the A’s, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that he informed the team he is committed to football.

Murray’s decision would have been a shock four or five months ago, but that was before he enjoyed a stellar season at Oklahoma and won the Heisman Trophy. Between his remarkable year and top quarterback prospect Justin Herbert opting to return to Oregon for his senior season, the stars seem to be perfectly aligned for Murray to be drafted in the first round.

If he follows through with his decision to play in the NFL, Murray will have to pay back the portion of the nearly $5 million bonus the A’s gave him after drafting him No. 9 overall in the MLB Draft last year. There was talk of Oakland possibly finding a way to pay Murray more money and convince him to stay, but he appears fully committed to playing football.

Bears refuse to rule out pursuit of Kareem Hunt

Kareem Hunt

The Chicago Bears refused to rule out what would be a controversial pursuit of former Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt.

Bears coach Matt Nagy admitted that he spoke to Hunt a week ago, but nobody was willing to commit either way to bringing Hunt to Chicago.

Nagy was Hunt’s offensive coordinator during the running back’s rookie year with Kansas City in 2017.

Hunt was released by Kansas City after video emerged of him assaulting a woman. He faces a lengthy suspension from the NFL, and any approach from the Bears would be met with significant public outcry. It’s hard to see any reason for them to do it.

Adam Gase has strange explanation for poor stats in Miami

Adam Gase

Adam Gase was introduced to a skeptical New York media on Monday, and he had a rather odd explanation for his lack of success with the Dolphins.

Gase arrived in Miami with a reputation as an excellent offensive coach, but the Dolphins finished in the bottom ten among NFL teams in both points and total yardage during his final two years there. This was brought up to the new Jets coach during the press conference, and his explanation probably won’t convince many.

It rings rather hollow when you consider that Gase went 13-19 during his last two seasons with the Dolphins. The real reason that he doesn’t want to say is, partially, that Ryan Tannehill had severe limitations as quarterback.

Perhaps all that matters is that Gase’s new quarterback likes the hire. The jury will be out for a while.