A look at what’s happening around the New York Jets:
1. Four’s a crowd: Same quarterbacks, different quarterback room.
After last season’s unusual dynamic, best described as too many cooks in the kitchen, the Jets are back to a traditional coaching setup, which should benefit quarterback Zach Wilson. The only voices in his ear are his position coach (Rob Calabrese) and his coordinator (Mike LaFleur). Gone are senior assistant Matt Cavanaugh and John Beck, Wilson’s personal coach who was hired at midseason.
No one will say anything negative about the four-man structure because they don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings, but it’s pretty clear the holdovers prefer the current way.
“I really like the way the communication has been because it’s been more direct,” said coach Robert Saleh, adding that “there’s a lot more conviction in what’s being coached.”
LaFleur said, “It’s been good to have just the two voices.”
Calabrese said, “Moving forward, [there will be] one clear, concise message. Everything goes through Mike LaFleur and we make sure we’re all on the same page.”
It got crowded last season, a situation born out of tragedy (the death of assistant Greg Knapp), unusual circumstances (rookie coordinator and rookie QB coach) and sheer desperation. The Jets hired Cavanaugh to replace Knapp, who died from injuries suffered when he was struck by a car while biking last July. Cavanaugh had no background with LaFleur or Saleh, but his vast experience was appealing. The Jets added Beck because they were so concerned by Wilson’s poor start and felt the young quarterback needed a familiar shoulder to lean on.
“It was good to have somebody in the building who was constantly there for him, someone he could talk to,” Beck told ESPN. “He could share his opinion, he could give an unfiltered feeling about how he was feeling going into certain experiences. He didn’t have to feel like it was somebody who would pass judgment or somebody would be critical because they’re comparing him to other quarterbacks in that situation.”
One outside observer, former Jets quarterback Boomer Esiason, wasn’t a fan of the four-headed coach.
“I don’t know Zach Wilson at all, so it’s hard for me to say what would’ve made him comfortable last year, but I do know this: When you have too many people talking to you, it tends to be a little much,” Esiason told ESPN. “I’m glad they dialed this whole thing back. Let his coach handle him and let his offensive coordinator call the plays.”
Wilson showed modest improvement late in the season, so “LaCalcaveck” did some good things. But this is a better setup for all parties, namely Wilson, whose success hinges, in part, on his ability to click with LaFleur and Calabrese.