The New York Jets have gone through a lot of different quarterbacks over the years as they have tried to search for their franchise quarterback.
They have signed free agents, drafted quarterbacks high, and they have even executed some big-time trades.
One of those deals that floated under the radar was when they acquired Kevin O’Connell from the Detroit Lions back in 2009. The Lions received a seventh-round draft choice in exchange for the veteran quarterback.
The Jets’ plan was for him to be the primary backup to Mark Sanchez, but it never came to fruition. O’Connell was with the Jets for three years in two separate stints between 2009 and 2011 mostly as a reserve.
Although his claim to fame was when Rex Ryan made him the team captain against his former team the New England Patriots. The former Jets coach had an affinity for rubbing the other team the wrong way in any way that he could.
While his overall NFL success as a player was lacking, spending time with five different NFL franchises from 2008 through 2012, O’Connell made his mark in coaching. Now he will have an opportunity to ascend to the highest level.
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Following the Sean McVay Train
O’Connell has been a hot name in the 2022 head coaching cycle.
On January 21 he interviewed for the vacant Minnesota Vikings head coaching gig, the team announced.
On that same day he also interviewed for the vacant Denver Broncos head coaching position, the team announced.
To make things super spicy, O’Connell also is scheduled to interview with the Houston Texans for their top job.
Some people never get one head-coaching interview, let alone three in the same offseason.
After his career holding a clipboard, O’Connell shifted over to coaching and built a name for himself very quickly. He started off as the quarterback coach with the Cleveland Browns for a season (2015) and did some “special projects” work with the San Francisco 49ers (2016).
O’Connell then got his big jump with the Washington Football Team as their QB coach before ascending to the passing game coordinator and finally becoming their offensive coordinator.
Over the last two seasons, he has joined Sean McVay with the Los Angeles Rams as their head OC. Speaking of McVay, his influence is once again apparent in this cycle as everyone tries to find the next hot thing.
Some believe O’Connell may very well be that sexy name that is destined for a head coaching role sooner rather than later.
“He is the most important part of the offensive brain trust,” Greg Beacham of the Associated Press on O’Connell’s head coaching candidacy. “He develops the LA Rams’ game plans, designs their plays, and then implements all the details necessary to make it work.”
O’Connell is only 36 years of age but his mentality as a former quarterback and recent experience in coaching might be the perfect combination for a modern thinking NFL head coach.
Addressing the Backup Quarterback Situation
Speaking of backup quarterbacks, the Jets don’t have one signed to the roster in 2022. The only quarterback under contract is Zach Wilson.
If the veteran Flacco returns to the fold, he will likely be penciled in as the primary backup. The Jets would like to also bring White back as the developmental third string, but at what price?
He is set to be a restricted free agent this spring and the Jets could choose to tender him. Although if they choose that path it’ll cost them $2.4 million, which would be pretty pricey for a third-string backup.
According to Rich Cimini of ESPN, the Jets will try to get him to “accept less money” on a one-year deal. White could easily tell the green and white to go kick rocks and that would make things a bit dicey.
Long story short, they’re going to need a reliable backup quarterback and we’ll see if it ends up being either Flacco or White or maybe even both end up returning next season.