If you thought you could catch your breath after the 2022 season, especially the way it ended for New York, you were wrong. Not 72 hours after their final game of the year, the Jets’ brass was hard at work self-scouting and making tough decisions. The toughest decision, both from a business and personal standpoint, was Robert Saleh “mutually parting ways” with OC Mike LaFleur after two shaky offensive seasons in New York. Saleh also announced that the team let go of veteran offensive line coach John Benton. Based on these two firings, it shows that the Jets are willing to change their offensive scheme, something Saleh admitted will be a learning curve for him.
“We’re casting a wide net. I’m not looking for a particular scheme, per se, there’s a lot of things I’m going to learn over the next month” Saleh said on Thursday afternoon while addressing the media about what they are looking for in their next coordinator.
On the #Jets OC search: They're not limiting it to candidates with ties to the Shanahan scheme, I'm told. They are open to a real change.
— Zack Rosenblatt (@ZackBlatt) January 12, 2023
While the scheme will not be a focal point of their search, he did say the new OC will “absolutely” have a say in who the next quarterback is of the Jets. New York will also need to replace their wide receivers coach, as Miles Austin is facing a one-year suspension. Ultimately, the new OC could choose to fire off the entire offensive staff, so all names are on the hot seat as it stands today. With that in mind, let’s dive into some names that are being linked to New York as a potential playcalling destination.
I’ve tried to rank these hires into tiers in terms of how I think the fit would work for the Jets. The two main criteria I am personally looking for are: experience as a play caller and ability to help develop a quarterback.
- Greg Olson, Sr. Offensive Assistant, Los Angeles Rams
With 21 years of experience working with quarterbacks of all ages and career paths, Olson fits the needs of both a coordinator and QB coach. He has been a quarterbacks coach or coordinator for 6 different teams, including the Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders from 2018-2021 with QB Derek Carr, a hot name for Jets next starting quarterback. He was also an important part of Jared Goff’s breakout 2017 season, where he threw for 28 TDs and only 7 INTs, as well as Blake Bortles career year in 2015, eclipsing 35 TDs and over 4,400 yards passing. Both of those would be franchise records for New York. Oh, and he was Drew Brees’ QB coach at Purdue in 2000, where he helped develop the future Hall of Famer and Super Bowl champion. Olson seems like the bonafide perfect fit for the Jets, who are going to be in the conversation for Carr. The reunion pairing would be colossal for New York.
Derek Carr's average year over 4 seasons under Greg Olson from 2018 to 2021:
– 4,252 yards
– 23 TD
– 10 INT
– 7.7 Y/A
– 68.7% comp
– 97.3 passer rating
Ranked 4th in the league with 17,010 passing yards over this span.
— Michael Nania (@Michael_Nania) January 12, 2023
- Nathaniel Hackett, former HC, Denver Broncos
Some coaches are simply better coordinators than they are head coaches, and Hackett could be the latest example of that. Jets fans should understand this after watching the Todd Bowles experience fail right in front of their eyes. I understand his father, Paul Hackett, does not have the most loved track record with Jets fans (I was 9 when Paul resigned), but knowing that Nathaniel was a key contributor to Aaron Rodgers’ back-to-back MVP seasons makes him an intriguing option. Not the best option, but an intriguing one.
I understand the collapse of the 2022 Denver Broncos was the equivalent of an 18-week car crash, but I am under the impression that Hackett was hired by Denver on the sole purpose of getting Aaron Rodgers to the Broncos. After that didn’t work, the team had to pivot to Russell Wilson as Plan B, a quarterback who doesn’t match what Hackett does offensively. If given the right pieces, I feel as though Hackett could reclaim his status as an above average (or better) offensive mind in this league. After all, he did lead a top-5 scoring offense with Blake Bortles at the helm in 2017. He also had four top-15 finishes in eight seasons as offensive coordinator in the NFL. Those who were critical of the Jets scoring under LaFleur should be enamored with these stats.
- Matt Nagy, QB coach, Kansas City Chiefs
In a similar light as Hackett, Matt Nagy could fall into the “better OC than head coach” discussion as well. A Dunellen, New Jersey native, Nagy has NFL experience leading back to 2008 with the Eagles. He remained with Philadelphia through 2012, where he rose to quality control coach. Then hired by Kansas City to serve as QB coach, he worked with Alex Smith for 5 seasons. During their 2017 search for OC, the Jets actually reached out to Nagy, as he and Bowles had a connection. He ultimately stayed in Kansas City as their coordinator, before being hired as the Bears head coach in 2018. After 4 seasons in Chicago and being fired, he went back to Kansas City to be a senior assistant to Andy Reid. While I don’t think he is a superstar hire, he has consistency working with Alex Smith and could get that same production out of the next Jets passer in 2023.
- Darrell Bevell, QB coach, Miami Dolphins
Bevell is an easy name to link to the Jets due to his connection with Robert Saleh in Seattle from 2011-2013. Currently serving as the Dolphins offensive coordinator and pass game specialist, he has experience as a coordinator at 4 different stops, his longest stretch being with the Seahawks from 2011-2017. He also served as the Jaguars interim head coach in 2021 after the firing of Urban Meyer, where he finished with a 1-3 record. Prior to that, he took over as interim for Matt Patricia in Detroit in 2020, leading the Lions to a 1-4 record down the stretch. While not my personal favorite, Bevell checks most of the boxes I’m looking for in a coordinator.
- Joe Brady, QB coach, Buffalo Bills
A young creative offensive mind, Brady was fired in Carolina when Matt Rhule was the head coach, and maybe were confused by the firings. Rumors circled that the Panthers wanted to run the ball more, and Brady, being a former pass game coordinator for Joe Burrow at LSU, didn’t oblige. After being let go, he joined Buffalo in February 2022 as the quarterback coach to work alongside Josh Allen.
While I was a huge fan of Mike LaFleur for his creative mind and offensive scheme, I think the hiring of Joe Brady could give this offense a positive outlook for 2023. He would be able to have a hand in choosing the next signal caller, and his passing concepts in the redzone at LSU would instantly win over fans. His RPO creativity could also play to the strengths of Zach Wilson, as they work to develop him into a legit NFL passer.
Really nasty red zone play action concept here from LSU under Joe Brady. pic.twitter.com/xXvzsoC1TF
— Doug Samuels 🏈 (@CoachSamz) April 10, 2021
- Pep Hamilton, OC, Houston Texans
Although the 2022 season wasn’t particularly great for Pep Hamilton in Houston, he was still a huge part of Justin Herbert’s Rookie of the Year season in 2020, where he totaled 31 passing touchdowns and 4,336 passing yards. Prior to his stint in Los Angeles, Hamilton was the head coach/general manager of the XFL’s DC Defenders, where he posted a 3-2 record. He does have play calling experience under Jim Harbaugh at Michigan University, but he is limited to just 2022 play calling for the Texans at the pro level. During 2011 and 2012, Hamilton worked as a tutor to Andrew Luck at Stanford, where the offense amassed a school record 561 points that season. He was also with the Jets from 2003-2005, serving as offensive quality control coach, quarterback coach and wide receivers coach. A once sought after coach has fallen by the wayside, but a new environment and a hand-picked quarterback could be the restart he needs.
- Kevin Patullo, pass game coordinator, Philadelphia Eagles
With New York in 2015 and 2016, serving as the Jets quarterback coach with Josh McCown, Patullo is one of 3 Eagles coaches on the Jets radar in this current search, pointing to Joe Douglas going back to his roots to find a new play caller. He had a hand in Jalen Hurts’ development, as well as helping WR DeVonta Smith reach a franchise rookie record for receiving yards with 916.
Given his experience with wideouts, including T.Y. Hilton in Indy and Christian Kirk at Texas A&M, Patullo could be a good candidate to come in and help this New York receiving corps get back on track.
First Time Playcallers
- Brian Johnson, QB coach, Philadelphia Eagles
Since joining the Eagles in 2021, the Eagles, and Jalen Hurts specifically, took massive steps forward. Jalen Hurts became the 8th quarterback in NFL history to eclipse 3,000 passing yards and 750 rushing yards in a season, his first as a full-time starter. His two years with Philadelphia is his only experience at the pro level. He also worked with Dak Prescott at Mississippi State in 2014.
I’m not sure Johnson checks the boxes of what I’m looking for as offensive coordinator, and hiring a first time play caller to replace your first time play caller seems like a lateral move at best. Of course, he could come in and provide a blueprint for the offense that ownership and the front office of the Jets fall in love with, but bringing in another green offensive mind doesn’t seem like a great play. He could be a sneaky coach to hire if you are going to make a legitimate play at former-MVP Lamar Jackson, should he slip away from the Ravens.
- Nick Caley, TE coach, New England Patriots
This name is a completely unfamiliar one to me. Serving on the Patriots staff since 2015, Caley’s claim to fame has to be working with the legendary TE Rob Gronkowski. Other than that, it is hard to see why he is being considered as a candidate. New England, a team that has had a problem replacing Josh McDaniels as play caller, have not interviewed Caley for their OC job. Makes you wonder why the Jets feel like he is the fit for New York. Perhaps if the Jets are able to pair him with an experienced OL coach (maybe Bill Callahan) he could find success.
- Marcus Brady, former OC, Indianapolis Colts
Marcus Brady was the offensive coordinator under Frank Reich in Indianapolis from 2021-22, before getting fired shortly before Reich in the back half of last season. His NFL experience started in 2018, when he joined the Colts as assistant quarterbacks coach to work with Andrew Luck. He stayed with the team until 2022 until he was fired. Despite being let go as OC on November 1st, he was able to land on his feet quickly, joining up with the Eagles just 3 short weeks later as an offensive consultant.
If the Jets go with a young OC like these candidates — as Ian alluded to, there's a long list of people Saleh is looking at — then I would expect them to pair with an experienced OL coach to help with the game-planning side of things.
(Someone like Bill Callahan comes to mind.) https://t.co/Zrly3glFgJ
— Zack Rosenblatt (@ZackBlatt) January 13, 2023
- Former head coaches Frank Reich and Gary Kubiak
Look, I get it. Fans want the “sexy, splash” hire to help turn this offense around quick, fast and in a hurry. Unfortunately, when you look at the full optics of the job opening, a possible lame duck season in which the team does not have the solidified answer at QB (yet), it’s hard to envision Reich or Kubiak being the hire. Frank Reich was just fired in Indianapolis, and the thought of a 1-year “prove year” season in New York doesn’t play to Reich’s ultimate goal of being an NFL head coach again. Coupled with the interviews he is taking for head coaching positions, it seems very unlikely that he would consider the Jets. Gary Kubiak is simply not going to leave retirement to take this job. There would be more attractive options for him out there, if getting back into football was his wish, than the Jets.
For as much “quarterback away” talk has surrounded this team, it is certainly not going to be an easy, overnight fix for this offense. The line upfront has missing pieces, and the run game needs more stability in the event Breece Hall doesn’t play a full season. The next OC will certainly have their work cut out for them, but strong, foundational pieces are already in place for this to be a potential “plug-and-play” destination with the right hire, as well as hitting on quarterback. If Robert Saleh and Joe Douglas are able to do this, they could very well save their jobs in New York.