Despite having many choices to explore for their offensive coordinator position with better resumes, the New York Jets again settled for potential instead of proven success. What does this mean for the future of the offense?
Perhaps my initial evaluation of Jeremy Bates as being just potential is a bit harsh. He did coach with Jon Gruden in Tampa Bay and with Mike Shanahan in Denver, helping to groom Jay Cutler. He also was the Seattle Seahawks offensive coordinator for a season, one in which they finished 28th in the NFL in total yards. However, there were a few other candidates that would have given the Jets someone with proven success in preparing offensive game plans.
Todd Haley had led a Pittsburgh offense that finished in the top 10 in yards in five of his six seasons. Three times the Steelers offense finished in the top five in total yards. Haley wound up accepting a job with the Cleveland Browns. If he can turn around that offense, then it will be a big miss by the Jets.
Jim Bob Cooter is a name that has gained a lot of popularity in the last few years with the development of Matthew Stafford in Detroit. Since taking over the Lions offensive coordinator position, Cooper has helped lead Stafford to career highs in completion percentage and QBR. Stafford has also posted a plus-33 TD-to-INT differential over the last two seasons.
Despite the Lions firing Jim Caldwell, Stafford has made it known that he wants Cooter to stay on as offensive coordinator. However, not seeing the Jets inquire about his availability or calling him in for an interview, was reckless.
John DeFilippo was someone the Jets had interest in hiring for their offensive coordinator position last season, but were denied an interview by Philadelphia. Perhaps I’m being a hypocrite by suggesting DeFilippo, who is currently the Eagles quarterbacks coach, is someone who has proven himself more than Bates. However, he has done wonders with Carson Wentz and Nick Foles and was the offensive coordinator for the Browns in 2015, although they finished 28th in total yards.
My point isn’t to dismiss the hiring as Bates as typical Jets, but to ask what does this offense expect from someone who couldn’t get much out of the Jets young quarterbacks Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg? Isn’t it the job of a quarterbacks coach to prepare young, inexperienced quarterbacks to play in the NFL? If that is the expectation, then can’t we say Bates totally failed in that area in 2017?
Perhaps Petty and Hackenberg are beyond help. That very well could be the case. However, it still leaves the Jets faithful a little concerned about the prospect of handing the offensive coordinator position to someone who couldn’t make a dent in two young quarterbacks.
Last year, the Jets offense finished 28th in total yards, 29th in first downs, 24th in passing yards, and 19th in rushing yards. Despite those numbers, most agree that Josh McCown had the best season of his career under the tutelage of Bates. Could it be that Jets fans are used to settling for mediocre? Why should we accept finishing so poorly in every offensive area as acceptable and good enough for a promotion?
The Jets are expected to add former Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Rick Dennison as their run-game coordinator and offensive line coach. Wait a minute. The numbers I just posted showed that the best part of the Jets offense in 2017 was their running game, which finished 19th in the NFL. Why would they bring in someone to help with their rushing attack? With a passing attack that finished 24th and in a league where passing is clearly the most advantageous, wouldn’t their failure in that category be more of a priority?
Dennison doesn’t help the offensive line’s adjusted sack rate, which was 27th in the NFL, either. Dennison definitely helped Buffalo’s rushing game, as they finished sixth in the NFL in rushing yards. However, the Bills passing game was the second-worst in the NFL, finishing with just 2,825 yards.
Look at what happened to the Jets offense when McCown was injured for the final four games of 2017.
The Jets averaged 129 yards passing over their final four games. Compare that to averaging 105 rushing yards per game. When your passing yards are only 24 higher than your rushing yards, that is a problem.
Yes, I know that Petty was their quarterback for all but two quarters in those games, however, McCown is not expected to be the starting quarterback next season. In the best-case scenario, the Jets will bring in Kirk Cousins, but what if they decide to go with a young quarterback in the draft? Can Bates be expected to groom them when he couldn’t Petty and Hackenberg?
Who knows what next season will bring, but Bates has a lot to prove. I can understand why the Jets wanted to promote from within and keep things stable. Still, unless the Jets go with McCown again in 2018, another quarterback will need to learn this offense. I guess it’s better than everyone learning a new offense.