The shakeup of the New York Jets coaching staff has begun. No, not Brian Schottenheimer. Not yet at least.
ESPN’s Chris Mortensen is reporting that Jets offensive line coach Bill Callahan is leaving the team to take a job with the Dallas Cowboys for the same position, replacing longtime coach Hudson Houck.
Callahan, who has been the Jets’ offensive line coach and assistant head coach for the past four seasons, was instrumental to the success of the Jets offensive line, who admittedly took a troubling step back in 2011.
In addition to coaching the offensive line, Callahan served as the team’s running game coordinator, and he was a big part of the Jets’ successful “ground-and-pound” attack in 2009 and 2010.
In 2009, Rex Ryan’s first season as Jets head coach, Callahan’s offensive line of D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Alan Faneca, Nick Mangold, Brandon Moore and Damien Woody had the best season in franchise history.
That year, the Jets rushed for a franchise record 2756 rushing yards, leading the NFL in rushing and helping the Jets reach their first of two consecutive AFC Championship game appearances.
Callahan also did a good job integrating left guard Matt Slauson into the starting lineup after Faneca’s departure, and Slauson has developed into a solid starting guard over the past two seasons.
Slauson was a 6th-round draft pick out of Nebraska, where he played under Callahan when he was the university’s head football coach from 2004-2007 prior to his tenure with the Jets.
In 2011, the Jets offensive line took a step back, as veteran Wayne Hunter did not do an adequate job replacing Woody as the starting right tackle, and the Jets offense regressed along with the line.
The fact that Callahan’s been held accountable isn’t a huge shock, but it’ll be interesting to see where the Jets go from here as far as finding a new offensive line coach goes.
Callahan isn’t the only coach who won’t be back with the Jets next year. Quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh is likely out as well, and only time will tell if Brian Schottenheimer will return as offensive coordinator.
In addition, wide receivers coach Henry Ellard and outside linebackers coach Jeff Weeks will also not return next season. Both coaches had been with the Jets since 2009, and their contracts have expired.
Mike Smith, who interned on the Jets coaching staff this year and has been credited with reviving the career of young linebacker Aaron Maybin, has been named the new outside linebackers coach for the 2012 season.
It’s not yet known who the Jets will get to replace Callahan, Cavanaugh and Ellard, and it’s fair to assume they may not be the only coaches who will not return to the team next year.
After a disappointing 2011 season, changes have to be made. The Jets simply were not going to wait around forever to begin making those changes.
Hopefully, Brian Schottenheimer will follow Callahan, Cavanaugh, Ellard and Weeks out the door, but his contract situation makes it a little trickier for the Jets to move quickly on him.