To recap: A Houston television station reported LaFleur had been fired on Wednesday afternoon. The Jets pushed back on the report. Six hours later, LaFleur was gone along with some curious reported backstory.
LaFleur’s status was undoubtedly in question due to Zach Wilson’s struggles and the Jets’ collapse this season. It was not entirely LaFleur’s fault, but he certainly played a big role. And someone probably had to take the fall for a six-game losing streak to end the year and Wilson’s lack of development.
But every Baggie Day indication from general manager Joe Douglas and head coach Robert Saleh suggested LaFleur was returning in 2023. And that was reportedly the Jets’ plan. But when other NFL teams reached out to LaFleur — supposedly because they thought he might be on shaky ground — the coordinator and the Jets sat down and decided to mutually part ways so he can pursue other opportunities.
Does that all pass the smell test? Of course not. Why would the Jets let a guy they wanted to keep walk away with no compensation? Especially when they will need to turn around and overpay to replace him given the specter of a housecleaning if the Jets don’t make the playoffs next season? And why would rival teams be banging down the door of an offensive coordinator with no real accomplishments they believed was about to get fired?
The obvious explanation: Saleh was trying to do well by his good friend after making a tough decision and the leak made the process messy. But the fear if you are a Jets fan is owner Woody Johnson has begun meddling in football affairs. Which would not be ideal for the long-term integrity, and success, of the Douglas-Saleh regime. Especially if Johnson wants to force them to stick with the Wilson charade.
Anyway, the Jets need a new offensive coordinator. They have no quarterback and the coach could get fired 12 months from now. Happy hunting.
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James Kratch can be reached at [email protected]