The Buffalo Bills hired a 33-year-old offensive coordinator this offseason, raising eyebrows within the fan base. In league circles, Nathaniel Hackett is well-respected - and you can put Gil Brandt at the front of the line.
"I've known Bills offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett since he was about 8 years old, when his father, Paul, was a coach for the Cowboys," writes the former Dallas personnel man. "I think he's a very knowledgeable person - someone who has the look of a future head-coaching candidate - so I trust his opinion."
Brandt was referring to Hackett's opinion of EJ Manuel in the article, posted earlier this week at NFL.com. Paul Hackett was the passing game coordinator for the Cowboys from 1986 to 1988. Both left the team when Jerry Jones became the owner.
Buffalo hasn't lost a coordinator to an NFL head coaching job since Ted Marchibroda in 1992. Marchibroda had previously coached the Baltimore Colts in the 1970s, and was the offensive coordinator for three seasons before heading to the Indianapolis Colts. Two defensive coordinators - Wade Phillips and Perry Fewell - were promoted from within to the head job, with Phillips reaching that level again in the years since. Former offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild also left the Bills at the end of the 2007 season to become the head coach at Colorado State.
Might Hackett be the next coordinator to bolt? At the very least, it's telling that the rhetoric has already begun.