Jets Coaching Assistant Poached by NFC Playoff Contender

Matt Burke

Getty Former Dolphins defensive coordinator and Jets special assistant Matt Burke is leaving New York.

As the NFL world officially turned the page on the 2021-22 season after the Super Bowl, the New York Jets saw a member of their staff leave the organization on February 14.

NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero first reported the news on Twitter.

“The [Arizona] Cardinals are hiring Matt Burke as their defensive line coach, per source. Burke — the former Dolphins DC — spent last season with the Jets in a game-management role,” he stated.

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Jets, Robert Saleh Lose 2021 Advisor

ESPN’s Rich Cimini followed up on Pelissero with more information.

He tweeted: “Jets game-management coach Matt Burke has left [the] team to become the Arizona DL coach, source confirms (as Tom Pelissero said). Burke was in the booth, helping [Robert] Saleh on 4th-down, 2-point, etc. decisions and scouting opponents from [an] analytics perspective. Jets will name [a] replacement.”

Gang Green hired Burke on May 26 of last year. As Cimini explained, his job was to help Coach Saleh’s preparation as a rookie HC and in-game manager.

Saleh once described the special assistant as a “tremendous asset” to his staff.

In his own words, this is how the Jets HC described his role in 2021: “Trying to create different situations that are real-life applications to football. Then obviously on game day, being in the box and keeping us ahead of schedule. … For example, we crossed the 50, coach it’s four-down territory. And then from there, it’s my job to process all the information that he gives me.”

Saleh did struggle with split-second decision-making in year one. There were several occasions where he seesawed back and forth between a field goal try or a fourth-down attempt. There was also the major fourth-down mix-up between Mike LaFleur and Saleh that led to the late-game collapse against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

If Burke had been helping in this regard, the results didn’t really translate in 2021.

Now the Jets advisor will venture back into more of a player development role, as a defensive line coach with the Cardinals. He has spent 16 seasons in the NFL as an assistant — two as full-time coordinator — and has a wealth of experience in this league.

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Jets Hire Ex-Broncos Defensive Assistant

New York wasted no time filling Burke’s open seat, even if the new assistant has a different title and job description.

Brian Costello of the New York Post reported: “The Jets have hired Nathaniel Willingham as a defensive assistant, per source. Willingham is the son of former college coach Tyrone Willingham. He spent the last 3 years as a quality control coach with the Broncos.”

During his time in Denver, Willingham “assisted the defensive staff and helped run the scout team during practices” among other tasks. Aside from his three seasons with the Broncos, he has 10 years of coaching experience mixed between college and high school sports.

The newest member of Saleh’s staff will turn 32 in July. His future role with the Jets is unclear at this time.

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