Following a 22-26 defeat at the hands of the Tennessee Titans, there were many things we learned about this current New York Jets team. One, Josh McCown has finally fallen off the cliff that earned him a $10M contract this offseason. Two, Todd Bowles has no regards for the future of this organization after he said post-game that rookie QB Sam Darnold was fully healthy and able to play. Three, Todd Bowles needs to be fired immediately and should be replaced by Titans OC Matt LaFleur.
There is no denying it at this point: all short-term hope for this Jets team has been thrown out the window and replaced with pure embarrassment and disappointment. What seemed to be a promising season after Week 1’s victory over the Detroit Lions has become a season every fan wants to forget. Every game since has had at least one instance that’s proven this team is too young to be competing with most others. Or maybe, they are led by a coach who has completely lost control over his players, resulting in 11 penalties for 96 yards on Sunday, both season highs.
Matt LaFleur, as previously mentioned, is the current offensive coordinator for the Tennessee Titans, the team that just overcame a 16-0 deficit against the Jets. Before accepting the Titans job this past offseason, LaFleur also spent one season as the LA Rams OC under Sean McVay. We all know how much success the Rams have had under McVay, evidenced by their 11-1 record this year and a 22-6 overall record during McVay’s stint. As for LaFleur, once he took over for the offensive play calling, the Rams offense went from the worst to the best in the league, and although that has been attributed to McVay’s intellect, LaFleur also deserves a major portion of the praise.
What makes LaFleur as an ideal candidate for the Jets position is his ability to be a quarterback wizard. It is easy to remember a time when Jared Goff, the number one pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, was labeled as a major bust. In his 7 starts during the 2016 season, he recorded 5 touchdowns and 7 interceptions, numbers certainly not worthy of the number one selection. The very next season, he was in the conversation for the best QB in the league, with 28 touchdowns and 7 interceptions again. Through 13 weeks, Goff already has 27 touchdowns, so he is improving with every year. With Marcus Mariota, LaFleur has been able to critically lower his interception rate, going from 15 a season ago, to 7 so far this season. Although Mariota has not been able to reach Goff’s level of improvement, it is clear to see that he has been much more efficient under Matt LaFleur.
With the New York Jets, Jeremy Bates’ offense has proven to be painful to watch at times. Filled with screens and checkdowns, there is simply no vertical component to what should be an explosive offense with weapons like Robby Anderson, Quincy Enunwa, and Chris Herndon.
As for Sam Darnold, there is no reason to believe his rookie year struggles will translate to the future with a brand new coaching staff. He clearly has the tools to succeed, and if he is given a good offensive line in front of him, he has the ability to read and expose a defense at will. He may not be as polished as a Patrick Mahomes or Andrew Luck coming out of college, but with the correct coaching support, he will be successful.
It is expected that both Bowles and Bates will be relieved of their duties at the end of the season, but already having an offensive-minded head coach, something the Jets have not had in over a decade, will provide a much-needed spark. Keep in mind, over the last five games, the offense has scored either zero or one touchdown(s) in each game. That is approaching legendary levels of bad, further stressing the importance of hiring for offense.
Although other candidates are likely to be brought in for interviews (Vikings OC John DeFilippo, Saints OC Pete Carmichael, Ravens HC John Harbaugh), the thought of pairing up a young coach (39 years old) with the youngest quarterback in the league should bring optimism and a change of scenery for a team desperately looking for it.