NFC Playoff Rematch Provides Jets With Super Bowl Roadmap

Kyle Shanahan, Matt LaFleur

Getty San Francisco 49ers HC Kyle Shanahan and Green Bay Packers HC Matt LaFleur embrace after the NFC championship on January 19, 2020.

The New York Jets‘ current staff stems from two major NFL coaching trees — Monte Kiffin and Pete Carroll on defense and Mike Shanahan and Gary Kubiak on offense.

In football terms, Robert Saleh and Mike LaFleur run variations of a 4-3 Cover-3 and a west coast outside-zone system. They aren’t the only coaches who run this style of scheme though. In fact, both seem to be growing in popularity and success rate around the league.

Offensively speaking, three of the four remaining NFC contenders run a playbook that originates from this philosophy — the Green Bay Packers, San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams. On the AFC side, the Tennessee Titans are not far off either.

Defensively, we’ve witnessed franchises like the Seattle Seahawks, Atlanta Falcons, Jacksonville Jaguars (2017) and 49ers either win or appear in Super Bowls and conference championship games on the back of this scheme in recent years.

In the 2021-22 postseason, however, one matchup should stand out for Jets fans.

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DVR — Record 49ers vs. Packers

I’ll be honest, I don’t even own a DVR or a cable box for that matter but if you do, you might want to get this one queued up for your viewing pleasure.

Green Bay and San Francisco fans are currently living the Jets dream. They are both perennial contenders that have reached their conference’s final four this season. One will also be playing in the NFC championship, guaranteed.

The Packers are accustomed to this feeling, they’ve reached the championship game in two straight years, losing both times. So are Kyle Shanahan’s 49ers, who defeated GB in 2019 before falling to the Kansas City Chiefs in the big game. Saleh and LaFleur were a part of that staff.

Now, as the two gear up for a highly-anticipated rematch, Joe Douglas and Jets nation should be watching closely. After all, if these are the models of success, they can provide the roadmap to victory.

For example, what does the Niners’ roster have that Gang Green doesn’t? Being that their offensive and defensive scheme resembles ours the closest.

What does Packers HC Matt LaFleur do to help Aaron Rodgers operate one of the most efficient units in the game? Where are we lacking and what should we do to address it?

I’m aware that the Jets are nowhere near these two organizations at this moment but if the goal is truly to win a Super Bowl, you have to be willing to take some pointers along the way.

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Football Families

Fortunately, Saleh and LaFleur are tied to these two franchises by blood — or as close to it as you can get.

The Jets OC is obviously the younger brother of the Packers head coach. He’s also spent his entire career as Kyle Shanahan’s understudy, learning everything he knows. I’ll apologize now because earlier this season, I wrote that Mike LaFleur’s background could be a “red flag” based on nepotism concerns and some early-season miscues.

Was the first-year signal-caller perfect during the second half? No, but he cleaned things up a ton, added more creativity to the offense, and proved to me that he deserves the job he has. In other words, Saleh chose a coach, not just his best friend’s little brother.

Speaking of which, Saleh might as well be a part of these two families himself. Matt LaFleur served as his best man after all and the pair began this journey together as ambitious graduate assistants at Central Michigan. He also worked as Shanahan’s DC for four seasons in San Fran.

Point is, the Jets coaches come from success. Football is in their blood and the epitome of their goal as a franchise will be on full display on Saturday night — because if Saleh and LaFleur can emulate their role models, the future will surely be very bright at One Jets Drive.

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