Early yesterday NFL reporter Aaron Wilson reported that the New York Jets and offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur had parted ways. While most of the Jets’ beat reporters denied this report, it was confirmed later in the day. The offense’s failures are not all LaFleur’s fault; league-worst quarterback play, an impossible number of injuries along the offensive line, and losing budding superstar running back Breece Hall in week six all played a role. The Jets’ offense could not score a touchdown in their last 33 drives, and someone had to pay the price.
Two years ago, LaFleur showed up at Florham Park, and most thought it would be a one-year stop before moving on to a head coaching job. But after just two seasons, LaFleur finds himself looking for work.
Right out of the gate, LaFleur publicly tussled with players. First with massive offensive tackle Mekhi Becton and then with wide receiver Denzel Mims. Becton was often called out publicly for his weight and conditioning instead of handling it in the locker room. Following a promising rookie season before LaFleur’s arrival, Mims found himself inactive most weeks. The reason was that Mims didn’t know all the plays for all the receiver positions.
This season Mims and fellow wide receiver Elijah Moore both requested trades amid having limited roles in LaFleur’s offense. Rookie wideout Garrett Wilson said players felt like opposing defenses knew what the Jets were doing ahead of time. This Tariq Woolen video is as damning an indictment on LaFleur as any other issues mentioned.
The writing was on the wall, and it was clear that the higher-ups in the Jets organization wanted LaFleur gone. So head coach Robert Saleh announced that the Jets and his pal LaFleur had agreed to “mutually part ways.” He likely spun the firing to save face with his long-time friend.
This morning reports surfaced that the Jets are also firing offensive line coach John Benton and quarterbacks coach Rob Calabrese. Now Saleh begins a search for an entirely new offensive coaching staff.
A search that may prove to be a difficult one.
While the Jets have some excellent young weapons in Hall, Wilson and Moore, they do not have a quarterback. Couple that with Saleh and general manager Joe Douglas probably looking into playoffs or you’re fired scenario next season; coming to New York for potentially one season may not be attractive for top-level coaches.
Albert Breer of The Monday Morning Quarterback reported that Saleh would cast a wide net in the OC search. He mentioned some names: Darrell Bevell, Brian Johnson, Kevin Patullo, and Pep Hamilton. Some other potential candidates are Frank Reich, Gary Kubiak, Greg Olson, Matt Nagy, and Nathaniel Hackett. Play Like A Jet’s Scott Mason, the self-proclaimed President of the Todd Monken fan club, would love nothing more than for Jets owner Woody Johnson to throw that bag at Monken to try to lure him to New York. But sadly, Monken has a pretty good job running the Georgia Bulldogs offense, and coming here for anything less than a head coaching gig may not be in the offering.
The good vibes around this team after a 7-4 start were wiped away with six straight losses to end the season. The Jets seemed close to getting back into the playoffs just six weeks ago. Now they need a hire a new offensive coaching staff, find their quarterback, and hope those are the missing ingredients. This is an essential hire for Saleh and Douglas.