Analyst Pegs Top Jets Assistant as 2022 Head Coaching Candidate

New York Jets

Getty New York Jets coaching staff going through workouts during training camp.

After a 1-3 start to the season, there have been a lot of surprises so far for the New York Jets.

One of the biggest has been on the defensive side of the football.

There were so many questions about this unit and that only got more complicated with a slew of injuries during the offseason.

Yet despite those trials and tribulations paired along with a ridiculous amount of inexperience the entire side of the ball has been playing borderline elite football.

There is one man responsible for that and he deserves a ton of recognition.

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Gang Green DC Has Been an Absolute Beast

When Jets’ head coach Robert Saleh was hired, most assumed he would be calling the plays defensively. After all, that’s where he cut his teeth in San Francisco and that was good enough to carry that team to the Super Bowl.

Yet when he was hired, Saleh wanted to take more of a CEO approach to oversee the entire operation. So instead of calling things himself, he entrusted his defense to some guy named Jeff Ulbrich.

The 44-year old is an intense former NFL player and longtime assistant at both the college and professional levels. He got his first crack at running a defense this past season on an interim basis for the Atlanta Falcons.

Despite not having a ton of experience in the role, he has surprisingly excelled and has gotten the most out of his players here in 2021.

The Jets cornerback group is the only one in the NFL that hasn’t allowed a touchdown reception, which is insane to think about.

Here are some other wow stats from the first four weeks of the NFL season that have stood out defensively:

  • No. 3 in NFL on third down (28.6 percent)
  • Fourth best in red-zone percentage (35.3)
  • Seventh in yards per play (5.11)
  • Third in the league in sacks (13)

Although perhaps the greatest feather in his cap doesn’t have anything to do with stats or analytics, it’s all about the player development.

Bryce Hall has been playing like a No. 1 corner. CJ Mosley is a man reborn and looks just as good as the former Pro Bowl player with the Baltimore Ravens. John Franklin-Myers just earned himself a brand new contract based on his fit in this brand new 4-3 scheme.

On top of those studs, some other impressive work includes how they’ve been able to survive at safety.

They’ve lost both starters in Lamarcus Joyner (out for the season with a triceps injury) and Marcus Maye (serious ankle sprain out until after the Week 6 bye at a minimum). Yet despite that, they’ve cobbled together a capable unit with absolute bottom feeders: Adrian Colbert and Sharrod Neasman? Who are these people?!

Quite frankly I still don’t know, but they’re solid and Ulbrich deserves all the credit in the world for making this work.

He was put in a position to fail with injuries and lack of investment on the backend of the defense, but has overcome all of that to keep the Jets in every football game so far this season and will the rest of the way.

One Guru Had a Bold Sizzling Hot Take

After all of that success, one analyst was willing to put himself out there with one sizzling hot take.

Analyst and host of TOJ Live, Stephen Zantz answered a question in his mailbag about the most impressive thing about Ulbrich so far and he went to another level:

“Honestly, everything Ulbrich has done with this defense has been damn impressive. Since I have to pick one, it has to be his work with the secondary. The corners are super young and the safeties are all backups we haven’t heard until  2 weeks ago. I know this week was the most impressive week for the defense, but Ulbrich has been hitting all the right notes all season. If this continues, he will be interviewing for HC jobs in January.”

It’s kind of ironic that when Saleh was hired as the head coach and he was assembling his staff one criticism about his construction was the fear that his talented offensive coordinator, Mike LaFleur, would leave sooner rather than later for an HC job of his own.

A month into the season, LaFleur has been catching a ton of heat for his playcalling, while Ulbrich went completely under the radar initially and is now reaping the fruits of his labor.

If he continues this level of coaching, perhaps Ulbrich will be the one interviewing for head coaching jobs this January instead of LaFleur. Who would’ve called that before the season?

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