That list ended up being a short one, but one veteran that made the journey was running back Tevin Coleman.
The former Atlanta Falcons and Niners’ back has played in this “Shanahan system” most of his career, after being drafted into it in 2015. Coleman spent two years with Kyle Shanahan and his understudy LaFleur in Atlanta before the pair moved on to the Bay Area.
In 2019, Coleman reunited with his former coaches after two seasons on his own with the Falcons. Now he’ll do so again, except this time the pair is Saleh and LaFleur instead of Shanahan.
Due to his familiarity within the scheme, Coleman is the odds-on favorite to start Week 1, even if rookie Michael Carter might be the Jets running back of the future. The veteran halfback addressed the media on June 10, 2021.
Coleman Addresses Jets Media
The first question came in from New York Daily News reporter DJ Bien-Aime, and it asked about the transition back into that system that we just touched on above. Coleman responded that it’s been a “good transition” and “pretty easy transition,” noting that it bears similarities to his time in San Francisco.
Later, when asked about the success of this run-scheme no matter who’s carrying the rock, Coleman told the reporters: “That’s just how it is. We run the ball to open up the pass.”
Although this is a simplistic way to put it, the running back confirmed what we have figured since LaFleur entered the building, this will be a heavy play-action offense. We have already seen a few clips of Zach Wilson practicing play-action at OTAs.
Practice makes perfect, but to be fair Wilson was already pretty good at play-action passing in college. One of the reasons Joe Douglas and LaFleur were so smitten on the BYU quarterback was his ability off the fake.
ESPN’s Rich Cimini outlined this talent below, as well as many others, noting that Wilson threw 19 touchdowns and zero interceptions off play-action in 2020, with 74% completions.
Coleman was asked about his new signal-caller, and the response made headlines around the Twittersphere: “Aw yeah, he’s a dog man.”
The running back meant this in a positive way, of course, adding that even though Wilson has “a lot to learn” and “a lot of pressure,” he takes it all in stride. Coleman ended by saying that the rookie is “definitely a leader.”
Coleman on RB1 Situation & Personal Health
When asked about the running back situation, Coleman was all about the team in his response: “We definitely have some great backs in the backfield and we all competing to ultimately get better.”
The media-savvy vet made a point not to comment on the role of “RB1” in his answer. When pushed on the topic, Coleman calmly stated: “It really doesn’t matter to me whatever they do with me, [wherever] they put me on the field, I’m gonna ball… I’m gonna do my job and I’ll go out there and make plays.”
You wouldn’t expect anything less than unselfishness from a running back that has spent most of his career in different committee roles.
Unfortunately for Coleman, he has also been hampered by injuries for a large portion of his career, and the media also asked where his health was at this point.
The running back left no doubt in his reply: “Oh yeah definitely, definitely back to 100%.”
On the follow-up, Coleman reiterated that he still feels he has “a lot left in [his] tank,” talking up his speed and strength as attributes that help him prove himself.
Another skill the back possesses is his pass-catching ability. When at his healthiest, Coleman caught 111 passes for 1,176 yards in 58 games from 2016-2019. That’s over 1.9 receptions per game and 20.28 yards per game through the air. Not Christian McCaffrey numbers, but a solid tool to have for LaFleur and Wilson.
He spoke on his potential as a pass-catcher: “That’s definitely a big part of my game, running out the backfield, catching the ball out the backfield. I see myself [as someone that] can do it all. I can block, I can run, and I can catch the ball out the backfield.”
Along with Carter, Ty Johnson, La’Mical Perine and Josh Adams, the Jets have a very versatile running back room to utilize in 2021.
Coleman on Head Coach Saleh
The only other topic Coleman was asked about was Saleh the coordinator versus Saleh the head coach.
The running back noted that having him running the show is “amazing.” He went on to say: “He’s definitely the same guy with the details, with the urgency, and he’s out there on the field, he’s talking to us making sure we understand what we’re doing.”
Coleman appreciated the hands-on approach from Saleh. He also told the media that he was “glad” the Jets coach picked him to come over from the 49ers and become one of his locker room leaders with the Jets.
The veteran added that he would embrace the role and try to teach the young guys “how [they] practice” and what the “standard is.”