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Jets offensive coordinator candidates: Nathaniel Hackett, Kliff Kingsbury and 14 others

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In November, Mike LaFleur was listed as a future head coach candidate by NFL.com. By January, he was out of the Jets’ offensive coordinator role.

The Jets and LaFleur mutually agreed to part ways on Wednesday, according to a team official not authorized to speak publicly about the decision.

The news came three days after a season-ending 11-6 loss to the Dolphins in Miami. This capped off a terrible season-ending offensive spell for the Jets that ended up costing LaFleur his job after two years. The Jets (7-10) have not scored a touchdown in their last three games and have averaged 11 points per game in their six losses, which has only been made worse by the performance of the Jets’ defense for most of the season. . Quarterback Zach Wilson led the Jets with six touchdowns, and rookie running back Breece Hall led with 463 rushing yards — and the injured Hall did not play after Week 7.

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Recently, Robert Saleh made it clear that he thought LaFleur deserved a chance to stay – 49ers fans called for Saleh to be fired after his second season as defensive coordinator in San Francisco, but he wasn’t – so it’s fair to wonder if owner Woody Johnson pressured the coach to leave LaFleur. Ultimately, the Jets’ offense wasn’t good enough, and LaFleur paid the price.

Now, Saleh will likely look to fill the role with a veteran coach with playmaking experience as he enters the 2023 season, where anything short of making the playoffs won’t be good enough. The Jets want to turn Wilson into an NFL-caliber quarterback, though they’ll likely try to bring in a veteran quarterback to run a dying offense. Any offensive coordinator Saleh hires should understand that if things don’t change in 2023, Saleh and his team could be looking for new jobs around this time next year.

So who are some candidates?

We’ve created a list of 16 that make sense, listed in alphabetical order.

Darrell Bevell (Dolphins QBs Coach/Passing Game Coordinator): The 53-year-old was the offensive coordinator for four teams, including the Seahawks when Saleh was on the team. This season, he worked with Mike McDaniel, who comes from the Kyle Shanahan tree, so the fit would be a more perfect fit than some of the other veteran coaches on this list.

Tom Clements (Packers QBs Coach): The 69-year-old was the offensive coordinator for the Bills and Packers and would come from the team of Matt LaFleur, one of Saleh’s closest friends.

Nathaniel Hackett (former Broncos coach): He became the object of mockery, fired in less than a season in Denver. But before that he was a highly regarded offensive coordinator for the Packers – for Saleh’s friend Matt LaFleur. He was also the Jaguars’ OC from 2016 to 2018 and Jacksonville’s QB coach prior to that. He and Saleh were on the same team in Jacksonville.

Pep Hamilton (Texas Offensive Coordinator): The 48-year-old had a scrappy offense in Houston, although like LaFleur, he didn’t have much to work with at quarterback. He was also the Colts’ offensive coordinator in 2013-15 and has a league reputation for developing quarterbacks.

Brian Johnson (Eagles QB coach): The 35-year-old was only an offensive coordinator at the collegiate level (in Florida in 2020), but he is considered a coach on the rise and played an important role in developing Jalen Hurts as an MVP candidate.

Kliff Kingsbury (former Cardinals coach):Once upon a time, the Jets tried to sign him as their head coach, so it’s conceivable that Johnson would want to bring someone like him on board to help Saleh. Kingsbury will be paid by the Cardinals for a few more years, so he may not be in a rush to work.

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Gary Kubiak (former retired coach): Kubiak, 61, announced his retirement in 2021 and is unlikely to come out of it to call plays again. But he gave Saleh his first NFL coaching job and would be an ideal candidate to step in as a senior offensive assistant to help get the offense back on track. He might be more willing to work again if the Jets sign the next candidate on this list. …

Klint Kubiak (Broncos Passing Game Coordinator/QB Coach): Saleh never technically worked with Gary Kubiak’s son Kubiak, but he certainly knows him well through his father’s ties. The Broncos are hiring a new coaching staff, so Kubiak will likely be looking for work. He has no play-calling experience, but he could still break into the team in some capacity (passing game coordinator? QB coach?) to help rebuild the offense.

Ben McAdoo (Panthers Offensive Coordinator): The Panthers can only keep interim head coach Steve Wilks full-time, which would mean McAdoo would likely stay with the Panthers. But if not, McAdoo deserves a lot of credit for turning Sam Darnold into a solid NFL quarterback and he has plenty of experience from Carolina plays and his days with the Giants.


Ron Middleton was head coach of the National Team at the 2022 Senior Bowl. (Vasha Hunt/USA Today)

Ron Middleton (Jets tight end coach): He is a popular figure with Jets players – many often wear a shirt with his image and the catchphrase: “Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die” – and he gained a lot of support when he took them to a victory as the caretaker manager when Saleh was out with COVID-19 in 2021. He had never called plays before but would be backed by the dressing room.

Matt Nagy (Chiefs senior assistant/QBs coach): Things went wrong towards the end of his tenure with the Bears, but it’s easy to forget that Chicago won 12, eight and eight games in his first three years. Prior to that, he was the Chiefs’ offensive coordinator for two years and was one of the most sought-after coaching candidates when the Bears hired him.

Greg Olson (Rams senior offensive assistant): The 59-year-old was offensive coordinator for six teams and over the years ran a West Coast scheme. The Rams could also be signing a new team with Sean McVay potentially making a break for TV.

Kevin Patullo (Eagles’ passing game coordinator): The 41-year-old never called plays, but he coached the Jets QBs in 2015 when Ryan Fitzpatrick had one of his best years. Patullo played a key role in the rise of the Eagles offense under Nick Sirianni.

Frank Reich (former Colts coach): The dream of many Jets fans, but it is just that – a dream. Reich seems more likely to get another head coaching job than take over as offensive coordinator for a head coach he has no ties to (Saleh) in a playoff or losing season and in a different offensive style than the one Reich directs. . He fits what the Jets should be looking for — veteran coaching, playing experience, history of developing quarterbacks — but it would be a surprise if he’s a real contender unless Johnson forces him to Saleh.

Brian Schottenheimer (Cowboys training analyst): The 49-year-old spent the 2022 season on the Cowboys’ staff after one year with the Jaguars (spending as game coordinator) and two as offensive coordinator for the Seahawks. He was the Jets’ offensive coordinator once (2006-11), so he’s a familiar face at Florham Park. He was also the Rams’ offensive coordinator from 2012 to 2014.

Scott Turner (former Washington offensive coordinator): Turner, fired Tuesday by the commanders, has spent the last three years calling plays for Washington.

(Main photo by Nathaniel Hackett and Robert Saleh: Dustin Bradford / Getty Images)

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