Despite looking like playoff contenders at one point, the New York Jets’ 2022 season was ultimately defined by a struggling offense and a frustrated quarterback who couldn’t seem to make things click, even with the unwavering support of his head coach.
But behind closed doors, the situation was more complex than what fans saw on the field and in the media.
The Jets announced a number of coaching staff changes at the end of the season that were headlined by the exit of offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur, who had just completed his second season in New York.
“Over the course of the few days we’ve gotten a lot of inquiries about his availability from some teams and just talking with Mike, felt like it would be in everyone’s best interest for him to pursue those opportunities,” coach Robert Saleh said at a press conference last week.
“I always try to do right by people. He had options and there was a lot of discussion over the last three days. You guys know I love Mike, I love his family. There was some [opportunities] that he wanted to pursue and we’ve just given him the ability to do that.”
While LaFleur had the full support of Saleh – they’d worked together with the San Francisco 49ers – some players took issue with their offensive coordinator’s process.
According to The Athletic, some players thought LaFleur’s system was “needlessly complicated,” including quarterback Zach Wilson. LaFleur reportedly adjusted his scheme to match Wilson’s capabilities after a poor rookie season.
But despite watering it down, Wilson still struggled and became publicly frustrated. Naturally, so did the offense.
According to the report, second-year wideout Elijah Moore got into a heated exchange with LaFleur after not being targeted during the Jets’ Week 6 matchup against the Green Bay Packers, which ultimately resulted in him requesting a trade from the team.
“Go f— yourself” and “you suck,” were among the things Moore reportedly shouted at LaFleur during a practice that followed. He was sent home and shortly after requested a trade.
The issue resolved itself and in Week 12 against the Chicago Bears, Moore scored his first touchdown of the season off a 22-yard pass from Mike White – Wilson’s backup that seemingly stole the show and the support of his teammates.
“I’m just grateful I get to stand up here today and be the person that I know I am and contribute to a winning game. I’m really just blessed,” he said after the game.
The Jets will look to change up their offense first with a new offensive coordinator. Nathaniel Hackett, who was fired by the Denver Broncos this season after just 15 games, reportedly interviewed with the Jets on Wednesday.
They will also have to fill the positions of offensive line coach John Benton and wide receivers coach Miles Austin after their respective firings.