Just the other day we noted that “when you start to see your staff leave for coaching gigs, it’s the ultimate show of respect.”
Robert Saleh’s staff has yet to receive a head coaching offer but his New York Jets assistants are beginning to receive promotions around the league. After losing Matt Burke yesterday morning on February 14, Gang Green saw another assistant get poached in the evening.
This time, it was assistant offensive line coach Jake Moreland.
ALL the latest Jets news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Jets newsletter here!
Moreland Shines at Senior Bowl
As we know, the Jets coaching staff served as one of two units working with prospects at this year’s Senior Bowl. For the first time ever, assistants were promoted into key roles down in Mobile, Alabama, in order to aid up-and-coming coaches in their development alongside the NFL’s future athletes.
Apparently, Moreland turned enough heads to land a promotion. ESPN’s Rich Cimini tweeted: “Jets assistant OL coach Jake Moreland is moving on to become the Broncos TE coach, the Broncos announced. Promising young coach. Impressed at the Senior Bowl, where he coached the OL.”
NYJ OL coach John Benton is quickly proving why he’s considered to be one of the best in the business, transforming the Jets lowly group to a top-11 rank from Pro Football Focus in 2021 — and that was without Mekhi Becton all season. Moreland was his understudy.
A former NFL tight end himself, Moreland completed his inaugural season in the pros as a coach with Saleh. Before that, he put in 17 seasons of work at the collegiate level.
After starting his journey as a tight ends coach at Elmhurst College in 2003, Moreland made six more stops at four universities before joining the Jets — St. Joseph’s College, Western Michigan (twice), Air Force (twice), and Syracuse.
He spent most of his time with the offensive line or the tight ends, although he did serve as a special teams coordinator once and an offensive coordinator during his most recent stint with Western Michigan from 2017-20.
Follow the Heavy On Jets Facebook page, where you can weigh in on all the latest NYJ-related daily content, analysis, features and more!
Next Moves at O-Line, Tight End
With two veterans in front of him on the Jets coaching staff in Benton (OL) and Ron Middleton (TE) — who served as Saleh’s interim head coach when he tested positive for COVID-19 — it makes sense for the 45-year old to jump at this opportunity.
The Green & White could still use more talent at both positions in 2022 but they should be fine from a coaching standpoint. Here is how each unit looks heading into the offseason.
- Offensive tackle: George Fant, Mekhi Becton (open competition for LT), Chuma Edoga, Grant Hermanns, Parker Ferguson.
- Offensive guard: Alijah Vera-Tucker, Greg Van Roten, Isaiah Williams, Dru Samia.
- Center: Connor McGovern, Ross Pierschbacher.
- Free agents: Moses, Duvernay-Tardif, Dan Feeney, Conor McDermott, Greg Senat (exclusive-rights free agent), Alex Lewis (retired), Cameron Clark (retired).
Obviously, Gang Green needs their long-term fix at right guard, or center if you elect to shift McGovern over. They’ll also need depth, as most of the current group is hitting free agency in March.
Many expect general manager Joe Douglas to target a third straight offensive lineman in the first round of the NFL draft. That prospect would join Becton and ‘AVT’ as the newest member of the Jets’ young core.
Extend Fant and McGovern and that gives you a solid starting five for the foreseeable future.
Some of the rookie candidates linked to New York are Ikem Ekwonu, Evan Neal, Tyler Linderbaum, Charles Cross, Trevor Penning, and Zion Johnson among others. Douglas has four picks in the top 38 in April.
The Jets need a ton of help at tight end, as Middleton was given very little to work with this year. Kenny Yeboah, Trevon Wesco and Ryan Griffin are the three TEs on the active roster but the latter two could become a cap casualties this offseason.
Tyler Kroft and Daniel Brown are also free agents, with Lawrence Cager and Brandon Dillon signed to futures deals.
I would clean house on this unit if I were Douglas and bring in two to three new tight ends via free agency and the draft. Prospects like Trey McBride and Jeremy Ruckert headline the options in the rookie class for Gang Green.