2 Jets Assistants Will ‘Get Coordinator Jobs’ if Team Takes off, Says Insider

Aaron Whitecotton

Getty New York Jets defensive line coach Aaron Whitecotton helps with player drills in training camp.

A week ago, New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh let it slip that quarterbacks coach Rob Calabrese was “courted” by other organizations for a potential offensive coordinator position.

We’ve also heard Jets OC Mike LaFleur come up as a name to watch in future conversations for a head coaching position. Both will remain with the franchise in 2022 but this reality sparked an interesting thought in a June 7 mailbag article from beat reporter Connor Hughes.

A Jets fan asked Hughes whether or not any other NYJ assistants are garnering any attention from outside suitors and two defensive coaches came to mind.

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‘Keep an Eye on’ Rutenberg & Whitecotton


2-Minute Drill with LB Coach Mike Rutenberg | The New York Jets | NFLSenior reporter Eric Allen speaks with LB coach Mike Rutenberg down in Mobile, Alabama to discuss coaching in the senior bowl. Subscribe to the New York Jets YT Channel: bit.ly/2KRtBJd For more Jets NFL Action: bit.ly/2rkCbal #NewYorkJets #Jets #NFL For more Jets action: newyorkjets.com/2022-02-07T14:29:17Z

After reiterating that Calabrese could eventually receive a promotion, Hughes responded:

Defensively, keep an eye on linebackers coach Mike Rutenberg and defensive line coach Aaron Whitecotton. Both are really smart defensive minds and well regarded around the league. They’ll get coordinator jobs if this Jets defense takes off as expected.

Considering this was the last-ranked defense in 2021, Hughes’ disclaimer might seem like a big “if” to some but general manager Joe Douglas finally supplemented this side of the ball with more talent. Couple that with the fact that veterans like Carl Lawson and Lamarcus Joyner are returning and you should see a noticeable improvement defensively.

After all, the coaching staff is well-respected from Saleh and Jeff Ulbrich to assistants like Rutenberg and Whitecotton. Two other names that don’t get enough credit are cornerbacks coach Tony Oden and safeties coach Marquand Manuel.

Rutenberg’s name might sound especially familiar. The linebackers coach served as the defensive coordinator in this year’s Senior Bowl and enjoyed some success as the Jet-run National team held the opposition to 10 points.

“I was fired up!” Rutenberg replied after team reporter Eric Allen asked what it was like to get the opportunity to call plays. “Any opportunity to do something you haven’t done, really appreciate Robert and [Ulbrich] for giving that.”

Both Whitecotton and Rutenberg followed Saleh over from San Francisco, although “Rutey” told Allen that he first met the Jets HC in Jacksonville. With the Niners, he held the title of defensive “passing game specialist” so linebackers coach was a promotion that he was grateful for.

Whitecotton was the “assistant defensive line coach” in San Fran so his promotion was more direct. In New York, his job is to develop this ferocious group of pass-rushers and linemen. The run defense was a weakness in the trenches in 2021, so it’ll fall partly on Whitecotton to get that issue figured out.

In a similar sense, Rutenberg’s linebackers must do a better job of filling in the gaps both in coverage and the run game.

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The Pipeline Is a Sign of Success


"I've Been Proud To Coach These Guys" | Coach Whitecotton Media Availability | New York Jets | NFLDefensive line coach Aaron Whitecotten speaks to the media on Friday, January 7, 2022. Subscribe to the New York Jets YT Channel: bit.ly/2KRtBJd For more Jets NFL Action: bit.ly/2rkCbal #NewYorkJets #Jets #NFL For more Jets action: newyorkjets.com/2022-01-07T21:10:07Z

We’ve mentioned in the past that coaching departures shouldn’t necessarily be looked at as a bad thing. So long as Coach Saleh is at the helm and the Jets are winning games, this should be considered the natural progression and growth of an organization.

Good coaching systems produce promotions — that’s just the way this copycat league works.

In all honesty, most assistants and coordinators end up failing when they venture out into larger roles on their own because the head coach is the one tying all the pieces together. Just look at Bill Belichick’s coaching tree of busts, or Andy Reid’s which has been hit-or-miss over the years.

If Saleh can become that guy and One Jets Drive becomes a pipeline for hires, take it as a sign of success.

After all, no one tries to emulate a losing team. Everyone wants to become a winner.

Follow @obermuller_nyj and @BoyGreen25 on Twitter for all the latest New York Jets breaking news, rumors, fresh takes and more!


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