New Bucs Quarterbacks Coach Paul Hackett had a hand in the development of Joe Montana, Rich Gannon and Chad Pennington
Unrestricted free agency is still a month away, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are wasting no time in bolstering their team for the 2005 season. The Bucs are using the period before free agency to add to a position of strength: the coaching staff.
That is certainly what transpired on Monday when the team hired Paul Hackett as the new quarterbacks coach. Hackett's 35 years of coaching experience include 16 seasons in the NFL, nine as an offensive coordinator. Most recently, he was the offensive coordinator for the New York Jets, a post he resigned last week.
In the nine seasons Hackett spent as a coordinator with the Jets (2001-04) and the Kansas City Chiefs, his teams compiled a 90-54 record and qualified for the playoffs seven times.
In addition, Hackett has coached some of the game's most memorable offensive players during his career, including Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Marcus Allen, Curtis Martin, Steve Bartkowski and Rich Gannon.
"Over the years I have been fortunate to have had some great individual coaches, and Paul is one of the best," said Montana. "He is one of the hardest workers and … a perfectionist in everything he does. Paul is easy to work with as a quarterback and he understands the little parts of the game because he has been there."
Hackett assumes the quarterbacks coach position from John Shoop, who was with the Bucs for one season. Shoop's contract expired at the end of the 2004 campaign.
Hackett interviewed with the Buccaneers just days after leaving his position with the Jets. During his four seasons in New York, he helped quarterback Chad Pennington develop into one of the league's bright young stars.
"Paul has been instrumental in my development," said Pennington. "I'll always be thankful for his hard work and the time he spent with me."
Hackett said on Monday that he is thrilled to be stepping directly into a new challenge in Tampa, particularly with a coaching staff regarded as one of the league's best.
"[Head Coach] Jon Gruden has had remarkable success and continues to be on the cutting edge of offensive football," he said. "It's an honor for me to join Coach Gruden and his staff, one of the premier staffs in the NFL. Jon brings so much enthusiasm to the game and I am really excited to be a part of it."
Gruden and Hackett will not be working together for the first time. In 1991, Gruden spent a season as the wide receivers coach at the University of Pittsburgh under Hackett, the head coach. Both coaches have been influenced by some of the most successful coaches in NFL annals; for Hackett, that list includes Bill Walsh, Tom Landry, Marty Schottenheimer and John Robinson.
Hackett led the Panthers for three years (1990-02) and was also the head coach at USC for three seasons (1998-00).
Hackett began his NFL career as quarterbacks coach with the Cleveland Browns from 1981-82. He later moved on to become the quarterbacks/wide receivers/tight ends coach with the San Francisco 49ers from 1983-85 and later the passing coordinator with the Dallas Cowboys from 1986-88. During his four years as the offensive coordinator in Kansas City, Hackett helped Gannon blossom from a journeyman quarterback into an eventual NFL MVP.
"Paul is one of the most dynamic offensive minds in the game today," said Gannon. "I didn't have the opportunity to work with Paul until my eighth year in the league and only then did I realize how much there was to learn about the game. A lot of my success while in Oakland can be attributed to my relationship with Paul while we were both in Kansas City."
Hackett began his coaching career at his alma mater, UC Davis from 1969-71 before moving on to the University of California from 1972-75. He also spent four seasons (1976-80) at the University of Southern California, coaching quarterbacks and wide receivers while also directing the passing offense.
The Buccaneers have made two additions to their coaching staff in the last five days. On Thursday, the team hired former Raiders Offensive Line Coach Aaron Kromer as a senior assistant. Both will try to help the Bucs improve on their 22nd-ranked offense of 2004.
According to Montana, Buccaneer players will enjoy the experience, as well.
"He is so enthusiastic about his work and that is contagious, not only to the quarterback, but to everyone on the team," he said. "Paul will make you work hard, but he still thinks and acts like a player. He is fun to be around. He was a tremendous help for me because he will do everything he can to help you."