The New York Jets‘ chaotic and frustrating season on offense will end with the team getting a new offensive coordinator.
The Jets are parting ways with offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
The situation appears to be a rare situation in which the two parties actually did decide to consciously uncouple, as Connor Hughes of SNY reports the team was planning to bring LaFleur back for next season, but decided to let him pursue other opportunities after several other teams reached out to gauge his availability.
LaFleur joined the Jets as part of head coach Robert Saleh’s original coaching staff after working together on the San Francisco 49ers coaching staff, Saleh as defensive coordinator and LaFleur as passing game coordinator under Kyle Shanahan.
Saleh goes way back with LaFleur’s brother, Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur, working together as Central Michigan graduate students and serving as the best man at each others’ weddings. That may explain the apparent hesitancy to cut LaFleur loose until it became clear he would land on his feet.
Mike LaFleur had a lot to juggle as Jets offensive coordinator
There’s little denying the Jets’ offense was bad this year.
The team was 29th in the NFL in points scored and 26th in yards per play, finishing 7-10 despite boasting one of the best defenses in the league. The eye test more than backed up those numbers, as Jets fans could probably count on one hand the number of times they entered a game remotely confident in their quarterback.
Former No. 2 overall pick Zach Wilson entered the season as the expected starter, but a knee injury kept him out for the first three weeks and left former Baltimore Ravens starter Joe Flacco to step in, with mixed results.
Wilson returned in Week 4, at which point the Jets ripped off a four-game winning streak. That wasn’t exactly powered by Wilson’s arm, as he posted only one passing touchdown while averaging 173.3 passing yards per game in that span. Basically, he didn’t get in the way.
The wheels started to come off with a three-interception game for Wilson against the New England Patriots in Week 8, then everything came crashing down in another game against the Patriots in Week 11. Wilson, who went 9-of-22 for 77 yards, received a tidal wave of criticism for blankly responding “No” when asked if he felt like the offense had left the defense down, and the Jets soon had another starting quarterback.
The Mike White era appeared to be the future after a 31-10 blowout of the Chicago Bears, but then the former practice-squader struggled against the Minnesota Vikings and went down with rib fractures against the Buffalo Bills. Each of Wilson, White and Flacco started one more game from there, but none stopped the Jets from finishing the season on a six-game losing streak and out of the playoffs.
The whole thing was a mess, and the central problem is that Wilson doesn’t look anywhere close to a viable NFL starting quarterback two years into his career. LaFleur’s replacement will be tasked with trying to turn things around for Wilson, unless the team makes a major move this offseason.