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Five questions for the Jets after the departure of Mike LaFleur

Syndication: The Record Chris Pedota, via Imagn Content Services, LLC

With the Jets in need of a new offensive coordinator after the departure of Mike LaFleur, a number of questions remain.

What role did Woody Johnson play in the decision to change offensive coordinators?

Throughout his two decades plus as the team owner, Woody Johnson has been an erratic, frequently meddlesome figure. He has often imposed his will on decisions he is simply unqualified to make. These decisions have fostered competing agendas and a lack of cohesion within the organization.

After twenty-two years, Woody Johnson still seems to know little about what happens on the field. He knows less about building a winning organizations.

Thus it was notable how many members of the media were saying something like this over the last few weeks.

Suggestions from a competent owner providing direction would be one thing. The Jets do not have that.

Two seasons in, it would be difficult to blame Robert Saleh if he wanted some sort of course correction on his offensive staff. His job might be on the line last year, and it is important to fix problems. LaFleur certainly had enough flaws to justify a change.

If Woody Johnson imposed his will, however, it is an unambiguously bad sign for the future of the team. Saleh will have difficulty achieving success unless he is empowered to build the staff he wants.

Even if you wanted LaFleur fired, surely you can see how short sighted it would be to celebrate any involvement in this decision by Woody Johnson. When an erratic, incompetent owner decides to impose his will, it is only a matter of time before bad things happen.

What will the Jets do at quarterback?

Frankly I think this is a far more important and relevant decision for the Jets than the name of the person they hire to be their new offensive coordinator. LaFleur paid the price for the Jets’ four quarterbacks producing a league low team passer rating.

The offensive coordinator certainly deserved some blame for that, but he only had so much to work with.

How much should coaching get blamed when a young player fails to develop? It depends on the situation. The answer is almost always “some.” The coaching frequently receives way more blame than it deserves, however.

In the case of the Jets I find it difficulty to put an enormous amount of blame on LaFleur mainly because of the degree to which Zach Wilson struggled to execute the basics. There are things Wilson failed to do that a quarterback should be able to do by the time he reaches the NFL.

Regardless of whether the 2023 Jets offensive coordinator was LaFleur or somebody else, a meaningfully better performance always depend most on upgrading the quarterback position.

How wide of a net will Robert Saleh cast looking for a replacement?

For a coach who is only 43 years young, Saleh has an impressively deep list of connections who are qualified to run an NFL offense.

Would he feel comfortable going outside his network, though? Saleh had a close connection with LaFleur when both were hired by the Jets in 2021. Might he want to go in the other direction and look for a fresh perspective when he hires his second offensive coordinator?

It is worth noting Saleh and Joe Douglas had never worked together when the general manager hired the coach. Perhaps Saleh will draw some inspiration from this.

How much does Saleh want to change the offense?

LaFleur was straight off the Kyle Shanahan tree. Elements of Shanahan’s system are becoming some of the dominant features of NFL offenses. It would be interesting to see Saleh depart from them.

If the Jets hire another coach with strong ties to Shanahan, it will be a signal that the team viewed the coach and not the system as the primary problem.

Who will be interested in the job?

The normal cliches apply about there only being 32 jobs in the world running an offense at the highest level of football.

No matter what happens, the Jets will have an opportunity to hire an excellent coach. There is always a young, ambitious offensive mind willing to bet on himself by taking an open job in the NFL.

That said, this job does come with some significant red flags. Namely, the quarterback situation is unsettled. The Jets might be able to resolve it this offseason, but there is no way it can be done before the new coordinator is hired. Taking this job will require a leap of faith on some level.

Additionally, the Jets are an organization that has shown minimal stability in the offensive coordinator role. Brian Schottenheimer, who left the organization 11 years ago, is the last Jets offensive coordinator to last in the role for more than two years. The coaching staff will also likely begin 2023 on some version of the hot seat.

That isn’t to say the Jets will definitively scare away all proven coaches. That said, a big name who has options might view other openings as more attractive.