It’s been a fun week for New York Jets fans — Joe Douglas has been making intelligent signings, fans are celebrating an influx of new talent and the future feels optimistic again.
But some not-fun news surfaced on March 18. Beat reporter Brian Costello of the New York Post had the story, reporting that offensive line coach and run-game coordinator John Benton was arrested and charged with driving under the influence on March 17 in Morris County, New Jersey.
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Known Details of Charges
Benton was a bright spot in the Jets coaching staff in 2021, transforming a perennial weak link into a top-11 unit in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus. Multiple players on the offensive line had career seasons — namely George Fant, Connor McGovern and Dan Feeney.
Rookie Alijah Vera-Tucker also had a strong start to his NFL journey under Benton.
Costello reported on Benton’s arrest:
Benton, 58, was pulled over by the New Jersey State Police shortly before midnight Thursday on I-287 in Morristown for a motor vehicle violation. The police suspected he was under the influence and he was subsequently arrested and charged with DUI. Benton was processed and released, according to a police spokesman.
The ex-San Francisco 49ers coach followed head coach Robert Saleh over to Gang Green. He has built up a reputation as a well-respected assistant with a long track in this league, which spans back to 2004. The Jets organization told Costello they are “aware of the situation” and declined to comment further.
Costello added that “Benton could face discipline from the NFL under the league’s personal conduct policy.” That policy prohibits “conduct that poses a genuine danger to the safety and well-being of another person; and conduct that undermines or puts at risk the integrity of the NFL, NFL clubs, or NFL personnel” and mandates that “even if the conduct does not result in a criminal conviction,” employees demonstrating such conduct “will be subject to discipline.”
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Progress Takes Detour
The Jets’ blocking unit has improved greatly under Douglas, and Benton seemed to make this group more consistent than ever.
The assistant is well-liked by his players, too. Laken Tomlinson actually mentioned Mike LaFleur and the OL coach as two of the major reasons he chose New York in free agency.
The former Pro Bowl guard noted that having “that familiarity in the building” was important when making his decision.
This area is paramount to the Jets’ potential turnaround with Zach Wilson at quarterback. At the same time, character and culture are two standards that have fueled the franchise since Douglas and Saleh arrived in 2019 and 2021.
It’s unclear if Benton will face any sort of organizational punishment in the future. The only similar type of situation under this front office has been Marcus Maye, who was charged with a DUI, damage to property and person, and leaving the scene of a crash.
After speaking to Maye one-on-one, Saleh and Douglas elected not to suspend the safety, but they did allow him to walk in free agency on March 15.
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