NY Jets expected to retain important assistant coach after failed interview

The Jets' defensive staff should be sticking together

NY Jets, Marquand Manuel
NY Jets, Marquand Manuel / Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
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The NY Jets may not be making many (or any) willing changes to their coaching staff this offseason, but that doesn't mean the same staff is set to return in 2024.

Jets safeties coach Marquand Manuel interviewed for the Jacksonville Jaguars defensive coordinator position last week. This is the second year in a row that Manuel, a former NFL defensive coordinator, has interviewed with another team for a coordinator job.

Unfortunately for Manuel, that position was filled on Monday by former Atlanta Falcons defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen. With no other known job interviews lined up, this certainly suggests that Manuel will be returning to the Jets next season.

That's good news for a Jets defensive coaching staff that is among the most respected in the NFL. Manuel is a big part of that, and there's a chance that his retention could also signal the retention of another important defensive assistant.

The NY Jets are hoping to keep their defensive coaching staff intact

Jets defensive line coach Aaron Whitecotton's contract is set to expire at the end of the month. ESPN's Rich Cimini speculated this weekend that Whitecotton, who is close with Manuel, could follow his fellow Jets coach to Jacksonville if he got the job.

The Jets continue to work out the details of an extension with Whitecotton, and you have to figure that this makes it more likely he will return in 2024. That would be a massive win for the Jets.

Whitecotton is one of the most respected coaches on the Jets' staff, having helped develop the likes of Quinnen Williams, Bryce Huff, Jermaine Johnson, and John Franklin-Myers, among others, since joining the team under Robert Saleh in 2021.

Despite the Jets' offensive coaching woes, their defensive staff is one of the best in the NFL. Defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich was selected as the head coach of the National Team in the 2024 Senior Bowl — a direct indication that he's viewed as a future head coach in the NFL.

Manuel has DC experience and has been called in for interviews in consecutive years. Whitecotton and cornerbacks coach Tony Oden remain two of the better position coaches in the league. The same goes for linebackers coach Mike Rutenberg, who was a defensive coordinator at the Senior Bowl in 2022.

It's clear that the league views the Jets' defensive coaching staff in high regard. Now, if only the team can find similar success with their offensive coaching staff, they might have something to show for it.

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