Just about 24 hours after the New York Jets announced that they have hired Nathaniel Hackett to be their new offensive coordinator, their former OC landed a big-time job with a recent Super Bowl champ.
NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport reported that “the Rams are hiring Jets former OC Mike LaFleur as their new coordinator, sources say.” He added: “The favorite all along, another LaFleur joins coach Sean McVay.”
Rapoport is right about the LaFleur smoke surrounding a move to L.A. Both insiders Albert Breer and Mike Garafolo reported on that possibility in mid-January after his “parting of ways” with the Jets organization. Of course, not everyone was thrilled to hear about this update.
Jets Analyst Says ‘Pretty Obvious’ Robert Saleh Didn’t Fire Mike LaFleur After Sean McVay Hire
After the news broke on LaFleur, SNY analyst Connor Rogers immediately questioned the NYJ hierarchy in a thought-provoking tweet.
“By the way…does anyone actually believe [Robert] Saleh would fire a guy that Sean McVay would hire as his OC?” Rogers asked the fanbase. “Pretty obvious that decision did not come from him.”
From the start, there were rumors that owner Woody Johnson — or potentially general manager Joe Douglas — got involved when it came to the LaFleur departure. Saleh is close friends with the LaFleur family and chose older brother Matt LaFleur as his best man, so it’s very possible he might have had a tough time firing someone with bonds as strong as those.
Having said that, Saleh squashed those rumors himself after the decision, voicing that Johnson had nothing to do with it. “I think sometimes we get caught up on narrative,” the Jets HC told reporters at the time. “There [are] 32 owners in this league, they have every right to ask questions and challenge thought and have all the discussions that they want — that happens in every building. But at the end of the day, Woody [Johnson] gives us full autonomy with regards to decision-making — that’s Joe [Douglas] and I included — and he’s completely supportive of any decision that we make.”
Rogers, and many others within the NYJ community, beg to differ.
While responding to a fan, Rogers did reiterate that he’s “not ripping the firing,” but rather “explaining the problem with the process.” He concluded: “Not letting coaches make staff decisions is a consistent problem [inside the Jets organization].”
Contrary to Public Opinion, Ex-Jets OC Mike LaFleur Did Have Interest Around the NFL
After the Jets parted ways with LaFleur, another criticism from fans was that Saleh gave a bogus reason for his departure.
“Over the course of the few days [after the season ended], got a lot of inquiries about [LaFleur’s] availability from some teams and just talking with Mike, it felt like it would be in everybody’s best interest for him to pursue those opportunities,” Saleh explained, “so he’s going to be fine.”
When reporters pressed the Jets head coach on this response, he stood by it, stating that he “always tries to do right by people.” Saleh also continued to push the narrative that LaFleur chose to leave as much as the Jets chose to fire him.
Quite frankly, this felt like a totally made-up answer from a nice guy trying to help a friend land on his feet at the time, but perhaps Saleh wasn’t lying after all.
An NFL fan tweeted that at Rapoport after the Rams news became a real hire, noting: “Maybe the jets didn’t lie – maybe he did have opportunities elsewhere.” The insider neither confirmed nor denied this theory, but did respond, “indeed,” agreeing that it was — at the very least — a possibility.