On Wednesday evening, the New York Jets announced they parted ways with offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur. LaFleur was in New York for two seasons and oversaw an offense that struggled with multiple quarterbacks — all of who failed to stay on the field due to performance or injury issues. But what drove the decision to mutually part ways? Here’s the latest on what we are hearing.
New York Jets, Mike LaFleur Mutually Part Ways
Earlier today, sources told Pro Football Network that the Jets’ front office was still deciding how to approach this situation and whether they would retain or part ways with LaFleur. This conversation was a result of a lingering disconnect between the front office and the Jets coaching staff.
While key members of the front office wanted LaFleur fired, members of the coaching staff wanted to keep him as their offensive coordinator heading into the 2023 season. So, what ultimately led to the disconnect?
Jets head coach Robert Saleh runs his defense in a way that molds his system around the available talent. In contrast, LaFleur has a 49ers-type offense that requires a specific type of player, including zone-blocking linemen and receivers who are precise in their route running.
As such, the belief in the Jets’ front office is that while Saleh can work with just about any type of defensive player where there’s little margin for error in LaFleur’s offense.
That ultimately impacts the quarterback position, and key members in the highest levels of the organization were seeking to understand why Zach Wilson — who was drafted second overall in the 2021 NFL Draft — has not developed into the quarterback they thought he would be by now.
Sources tell Pro Football Network that members of the front office believe it’s a failure of LaFleur to develop him, while members of the coaching staff believe it is because Wilson is simply not a good quarterback.
The Jets, who missed the playoffs this season with a 7-10 record, will now enter the market in search of an offensive coordinator that will likely be tasked with — if the front office has their way — developing Wilson. Saleh, who will be entering his third year, has an 11-23 record as head coach of the Jets, and will likely need a playoff berth in 2023 to save his job.
Will the Jets Bring in Another Quarterback?
The Jets currently hold the 13th pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, and if they are looking for a quarterback, they will likely be in a position to select one, whether by trading up or sitting still.
Alabama’s Bryce Young and Ohio State University’s CJ Stroud will be gone by the 13th pick. So, who might the Jets be in a position to draft? Keep an eye on the likes of Kentucky’s Will Levis and Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker.
Hooker, who will be a 25-year-old rookie, suffered an ACL tear in November, which could push him down draft boards. Levis, on the other hand, will be a polarizing prospect throughout this draft cycle, with opinions on him varying across the board.
There also could be options in free agency, with Derek Carr available for trade, uncertainty around Jimmy Garoppolo in San Francisco, and other quarterbacks such as Ryan Tannehill, who may be a cut candidate heading into free agency.
In 2021, sources with intimate knowledge of the quarterback situation told Pro Football Network that the front office was looking for a quarterback to mentor Wilson. While they traded for Joe Flacco, that did not appear to produce fruitful results. If they look to bring in a veteran QB in 2023, we’ll see if they find a better alternative.