The NY Jets have a Keith Carter problem. One could argue the team has a coaching problem or even an organizational problem, but the easiest and most obvious issue the Jets should be looking to fix is the one revolving around their current offensive line coach.
Despite the 2023 Jets finishing as one of the worst offenses in modern NFL history, head coach Robert Saleh has made it clear that the team is not planning on making any changes to their coaching staff this offseason.
It's a complacent decision, but there is some rationale for a few maligned candidates. Firing offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, while likely deserving, would force the team to bring in a new play-caller to run a new system in what could be Aaron Rodgers' last NFL season. It's easier said than done.
Others, like passing game coordinator Todd Downing, at least have positive ties to players the Jets could look to target in free agency, such as Ryan Tannehill.
With Carter, there is no rationale. Players loudly and publicly hate him, his track record is poor, and his unit's performance in 2023 was one of the worst the NFL has seen in years.
There is no redeeming quality about Keith Carter. Yet, despite this, the Jets aren't considering moving on, per SNY's Connor Hughes. Hughes insists that Saleh respects Carter and believes he's a good coach who "pushes players in practice and gets the most out of them."
That's the team's stance, and it isn't changing any time soon.
The NY Jets refuse to address their Keith Carter problem
This is, of course, despite numerous players — including multiple current Jets players — publicly calling out the veteran assistant coach.
Former Tennessee Titans standouts Taylor Lewan and Ben Jones have been very vocal about their dislike of Carter. Lewan's recent post taking shots at Carter prompted responses from both Breece Hall and Mekhi Becton, with the latter agreeing with Lewan that Carter was not a good coach.
Meanwhile, former Jets offensive linemen Adam Pankey and Trystan Colon — the former spent time with Carter in Tennessee as well — have liked posts on social media calling for Carter's firing. Even former Atlanta Falcons fullback Patrick DiMarco took a shot at Carter in the comments of Lewan's post.
These public shots have all come within the last few days, but this has been a poorly kept secret around the NFL for quite some time now. Players do not like playing for Keith Carter.
He's garnered a reputation as a mean-spirited coach who puts his players in danger in practice by working them too hard, often leading to increased injury risk. It's no coincidence that Carter's offensive lines are often among the most injured in football, and the 2023 Jets are evidence of that.
It would be a different story if Carter's controversial coaching style at least yielded positive results, but it hasn't. The Jets' offensive line in 2023 was one of the worst the league has seen in years, and it wasn't just because of injuries.
Laken Tomlinson has regressed. Mekhi Becton regressed. Max Mitchell regressed. There wasn't a single silver lining to Carter's offensive line in 2023.
Other teams have been able to draft and develop mid-round offensive line prospects. Other teams have received competent play from backups or even guys signed off the street. Not the Jets. Not under Keith Carter.
The Jets have a serious issue with their offensive line coach, but no matter how many red flags are thrown Robert Saleh's way, it seems he's going to continue to turn his head and ignore them. He's stubbornly backing the wrong horse.
And if things go poorly again in 2024, that ultimately could be what costs him his job.