The New York Jets are expected to make changes this offseason after a shaky season that resulted in their first year out of the postseason under third-year head coach Rex Ryan.
While offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer’s future with the team is still up in the air for now, another offensive coach appears to be on the chopping block.
Quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh, who I’ve identified in the past as a coach who could be on a short leash, has reportedly been telling friends that he expects to be fired.
The 55-year-old Cavanaugh played parts of 13 seasons in the NFL, winning two Super Bowl rings as a backup quarterback. He was hired as Jets quarterbacks coach in 2009, the same year the Jets drafted Mark Sanchez.
Sanchez has not progressed as quickly as the Jets would’ve liked, and it appears that the team will make the pragmatic decision to let Cavanaugh go and bring in a new quarterbacks coach.
I’m still hopeful that Brian Schottenheimer will not return to the Jets in 2012, but if they do move away from Cavanaugh, that would certainly be a good move as well.
Simply put, if you’re not getting the most out of your players, coaches have to be held responsible. If the quarterback play is underwhelming, the quarterbacks coach is not doing his job adequately.
I’m not going to sit here and say Sanchez is blameless, but I certainly think it’s fair to say that he was not afforded the same luxuries in 2011 as he had in his first two seasons.
I would argue that the running game declined this year, and the rushing attempts decreased dramatically, adding much more pressure on Sanchez than ever before, something he was not equipped to handle.
In addition, the receiving corps also declined in my opinion, and the offensive line gave up far more pressure and way more hits on the quarterback than ever before.
Couple this from a coaching staff led by Schottenheimer, Cavanaugh, and offensive line coach Bill Callahan, and it was a recipe for disaster for the 25-year-old Sanchez and the Jets offense.
The Jets will not fire the quarterback, and they shouldn’t. He had a bad season, and I expect him to come back next year with a career year, building upon some of the good things he did do this year.
That’s why I believe it’s the coaching staff that must improve, as a foundation for the Jets offense, and that means a new quarterbacks coach and hopefully a new offensive coordinator moving forward.
There will be personnel changes, and there should be. Younger players like Sanchez, running back Joe McKnight and receiver Jeremy Kerley will return and hopefully be complimented by new additions.
The offensive line could use improvement, as first-year starter Wayne Hunter proved to be a disaster at right tackle, and even Pro Bowl left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson took a step back in his play in 2011.
Bottom line, I believe letting Matt Cavanaugh go would be a good move, and I hope the reports about his imminent firing are true. The Jets need to get better, and this is a good first step.