What also didn’t work out was New York’s offense in 2022. After two seasons with 25th and 26th place finishes in total offense, the Jets parted ways with offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur on Wednesday. It wasn’t an easy decision for head coach Robert Saleh, who brought LaFleur with him from San Francisco to New York in 2021, and told reporters on Thursday that it “seems like it would be in the best interests of of all” if LaFleur pursued opportunities elsewhere.
LaFleur wasn’t the only coach to leave the Jets this week. Saleh also announced the departure of offensive line coach and running game coordinator John Benton.
“I’m not going to go into detail about that,” Saleh said. “I love John. He’s been coaching in this league for a really long time, I’ve been with him for a long time. I just wanted to go in a different direction.”
These aren’t quite wholesale changes for Saleh’s staff, but after failing to meet their share of the load in consecutive seasons, changes needed to be made in attack. It also became apparent towards the end of the campaign that another change would be needed at the most important position in the game.
Zach Wilson’s lack of improvement has gone from worrisome to catastrophic for the Jets in 2022, especially after New York lost promising rookie Breece Hall to a season-ending knee injury. Wilson was benched twice during the season and failed to capitalize on the opportunities presented to him, allowing critics to blame him as the reason for the Jets’ second half shortcomings. the year.
LaFleur couldn’t save Wilson before he left the team, and it seems likely they’ll be looking for outside help who can immediately improve New York’s offense in 2023.
Johnson told reporters Thursday he was “absolutely” ready to spend big on a veteran QB this offseason.
“We have a cap, so there’s an amount you can spend,” Johnson said, by ESPN.com. “But, yeah, yeah. It’s kind of the missing piece.”
Saleh also hasn’t ruled out adding an arm to the QB room.
“We’re going to be very aggressive when it comes to quarterback play and make sure we do everything we can to satisfy that position,” Saleh said. “Do I want to be so cocky to say I think it’s plug and play where we’re going to improve? When you can run the ball, you have special teams and you have top-five defence, you’re supposed to be in the playoffs. I think we can continue on the trajectory we’ve been on.”
New York’s defense certainly played at a playoff-worthy level in 2022, but the offense lagged, especially after losing Hall. On paper, the Jets look set to take the next step, which should include a playoff spot in their future — provided they find a quality quarterback.
With expectations comes pressure. If and when the Jets find a quarterback — the offseason promises to be an exciting one for a number of teams — people won’t accept a cellar season in New York anymore, even if Johnson doesn’t apply. no public pressure.
New York is in a decent position in terms of roster quality, but Saleh knows complacency will only produce equally disappointing results. After a productive draft in 2022, the Jets can only benefit from an equally positive offseason, which may include the return of key injured players like guard Alijah Vera-Tucker, in 2023.
“It’s not just one person. We have to fix our O-line,” Saleh said. “We need to get more consistency in the quarterback game. We need to improve on our young receiver, so they’ll be a year older, it’ll be better. Get Breece back, get in there, get healthy.
“It’s never just one person, and I’ll stick to that. We were 14th in the NFL in scoring when Breece and AVT were on the field, and it sort of fell apart from there. But there’s a lot of promise with this group. We’ll come back healthy, we’ll keep adding and we’re really excited to see the direction it can take.”
New York hopes the direction is upwards. The Jets have a lot of work to do in the meantime.