Assessing the New York Jets Coaching Staff for the 2021 NFL Season

By Dan Vasta in Sports
| August 20, 2021 6:58 am PDT

The New York Jets have had ten straight seasons without a trip to the NFL playoffs. Only one of those seasons featured a team with a winning record.

From Rex Ryan to Todd Bowles to Adam Gase, there was a struggle at the quarterback position.

The recent number two selection in the 2021 NFL Draft was Zach Wilson. The former BYU signal-caller is hopeful to bring a winning attitude to the franchise. The new coaching staff for the Jets is another reason for optimism.

Coach Robert Saleh has hauled in great assistants, and many believe this will be the start of a successful tenure. The expectations will remain low for another season or two, but then the hope is they will be exceeded.

Here is your preview to the New York Jets coaching staff for the upcoming 2021-22 NFL season.

Robert Saleh – Head Coach

Saleh has been in the NFL since 2005 and appeared on four teams before being named the Jets head coach. Saleh has been known for being a defensive guru. The patented fist pump has left the NFC West to wreak havoc on the AFC East.

The 49ers saw his success from 2017-20, which included a trip to the Super Bowl in the 2020 postseason.

All his experiences have helped him reach the ultimate goal. Becoming an NFL head coach is not an easy task, but staying as one for several years is even more of a challenge.

Walking into a favorable situation with a bright future will go as far as his young players and coaches take him. Even the best coaches will admit they are only as good as the talent around them. A benefit Saleh does have is the familiarity of coaches that he has hauled in.

New York Jets Top Assistants

The number of experienced coaches with a few youngsters should keep coach Saleh on his toes. The relationships he has built over the years are impressive, and it could lead to further success.

Mike LaFleur is one of those coaches that can help lead the Jets to the promised land.

Saleh roomed at Central Michigan with Mike’s brother Matt, who is now the head coach of the Green Bay Packers. He even stood up in Matt’s wedding as his best man, and the family ties have added a level of comfort.

Jeff Ulbrich – Defensive Coordinator

The offense will get all the hype, and deservedly so. However, it will be the defense that keeps the squad in ball games. Jeff Ulbrich is the first-year defensive coordinator. Previously he spent six seasons with the Atlanta Falcons.

Ulbrich was a former NFL linebacker for the San Francisco 49ers, but he spent time on the West coast as a coach with the UCLA Bruins and Seattle Seahawks.

He became the defensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons last season, where the talent level was among the worst in the NFL.

Needless to say, the Falcons weren’t great in that department. Take a look.

Stat NFL Rank
PPG Allowed 25.9 PPG (19th)
Rushing Defense 104.8 YPG (6th)
Passing Defense 293.6 YPG (32nd)
Total Defense 398.4 YPG (29th)

The team had issues getting off the field on crucial third downs and they allowed a boatload of yardage and points throughout the season, ranking them among the worst units in the league.

Mike LaFleur – Offensive Coordinator

The former Elmhurst College (now University) Bluejay quarterback turned safety, has been knocking on the door of opportunity for the last several seasons.

Kyle Shanahan, his brother Matt, and Sean McVay were just a few of the names that were together during their time with Washington.

The experiences and learning curve have helped prepare LaFleur for the big time.

Calling the shots on offense should be entertainment at its finest with young gunslinger Zach Wilson under center.

The number of boots and play-action in this offense will be fun to watch. Wilson has the athleticism to thrive in this LaFleur offense, but there will be some growing pains with a bevy of players under the age of 24 that will be starting/seeing significant snaps.

Other Jets Assistants

  • Brant Boyer: Special Teams Assistant
  • Miles Austin: Wide Receivers
  • John Benton: Run Game Coordinator/OL
  • Rob Calabrese: Quarterbacks
  • Ron Middleton: Tight Ends
  • Marquand Manuel: Defensive Backs/Safeties
  • Taylor Embree: Running Back
  • Jake Moreland: Assistant OL
  • Tony Oden: Senior Defensive Assistant/Cornerbacks
  • Nate Ollie: Assistant Defensive Line
  • Mack Brown: Offensive Assistant
  • Aaron Whitecotton: DL
  • Mike Rutenberg: Linebackers
  • Hayes Pullard: Defensive Assistant
  • Ricky Manning Jr.: Defensive Assistant
  • Michael Ghobrial: Special Teams Assistant
  • Leon Washington: Special Teams Assistant
  • Chip Vaughn: Defensive Assistant
  • Billy Vandemerkt: Offensive Assistant  

The number of former players on this coaching staff ranks among the better units in the league. Many of them had success in the NFL.

Miles Austin was one of the better starting wideouts in the NFL for the Dallas Cowboys before injuries took a toll. Leon Washington was a stud at Florida State before becoming an elite returner on special teams.

I would look for all of them to find success in due time, despite coaching the fifth-youngest team in the NFL. 

New York’s 2021 NFL Season Outlook

The Jets enter a new era with fresh faces on and off the field. The new coaching staff should rejuvenate the franchise and set them up for success.

The development of Zach Wilson and the weapons around him will indicate how much growth there is in year one.

Elijah Moore, Corey Davis, Michael Carter, and Denzel Mims are young skill players. The Jets need a few of them to play relevant snaps with production.

The duo of Saleh and LaFleur has a nice ring to it, but the AFC East will be stacked after struggles last season.

The Jets went winless against the division and didn’t win any games until the end of the season.

A new and improved coaching staff likely won’t be in that much trouble in year one. Still, the team must start respectable to gain the confidence and success needed to get the franchise back on track.

Want to get to know other NFL coaching staffs? Check out the 2021 breakdowns for the rest of the AFC East below.

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