Mike Westhoff had some strong words for the New York Jets regarding their decision to fire special teams coach Bobby April after just one season.
By Jeff Jarboe
To the delight of many New York Jets fans, the team announced Thursday that they’ve fired special teams coordinator Bobby April after just one season with the team.
The firing doesn’t come as much of a surprise – special teams is just about the only area in which the Jets didn’t see improvement in this season, but some people believe firing April after just one season is a premature decision. Namely, former Jets Special Teams coordinator and legendary special teams coach, Mike Westhoff, is one of them.
According to Rich Cimini of ESPN New York, Westhoff expressed his discontent with the April firing on ESPN New York 98.7 on Thursday, saying that he thinks the firing of April after just one season is an act of cowardice by the Jets.
“Frankly, I’ll tell you exactly how I feel. I think it’s cowardice,” Westhoff said.
According to the story, Westhoff believes the shot callers in New York used April as a scapegoat for the team not making the playoffs this season. The former special teams coach praised Jets GM Mike Maccagnan and the job he did reshaping the New York Jets roster, but noted that the first-year GM did nothing to improve the Jets on special teams.
“You gave the guy a chance, you gave him one year and you didn’t do anything to help him out. What makes you think all of a sudden they’re going to be pretty good? It’s not going to happen,” Westhoff said.
Very strong words from a very well-respected man within the Jets organization, and he definitely has a point. With so much money to spend and a handful of quality draft picks at their disposal, Maccagnan and Bowles (lets not all place the blame on Maccagnan) did nothing to improve the Jets on special teams and it came back to bite them in the you-know-what.
They never added a return specialist after they elected not to re-sign Percy Harvin (a decision everyone is grateful for), and instead put Jeremy Kerley back deep. Kerley may have won awards for his returning abilities in college, but now he lacks any semblance of a burst and is only capable of jumping from side to side and getting five or six yards out of every return.
The decision not to add a return specialist, combined with how unprepared the team was when Nick Folk went down truly back up Westhoff’s words. April may have been somewhat to blame, but there are other reasons as to why the New York Jets struggled on special teams in 2015.
ESPN speculates that the decision to let April go after his debut season is because Bowles already has a replacement in place. Someone who the rookie head coach was interested in adding to his staff from day one, but is only just now getting the opportunity to do so–Atlanta Falcons Special Teams Coordinator, Keith Armstrong.
Armstrong and Bowles were teammates at Temple in the ’80s, and his contract with Atlanta just expired.
Is Armstrong the leading candidate? It’s far too early to tell. But one thing is for sure, both Todd Bowles and Mike Maccagnan have some important decisions to make in the coming weeks if they want to be competitive on special teams in 2016.
This means spending more money and/or draft picks on personnel, and bringing in the right coach who can put a system in place. All of the sudden “return man” has become a big need on the Jets 2015 draft board…