The NY Jets' front office and ownership wanted a scapegoat for the team's late-season collapse and offensive struggles. They found one in offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur.
After conflicting reports early on Wednesday, the Jets officially decided to "mutually part ways" with their young offensive coordinator following an underwhelming two-year stint with the organization.
The Jets' offensive woes, specifically over the final few weeks of the season, can't be ignored, but there was more at play than just LaFleur. Unfortunately, that wasn't enough to save his job.
It's widely expected that LaFleur, who is highly regarded around the NFL, will have numerous opportunities awaiting him. In fact, reports suggest that once teams got a whiff that the Jets could be moving on, "several teams reached out."
Parting ways with LaFleur allows him to explore those other opportunities, but it also puts the Jets in a difficult position. They don't have a quarterback. They don't have an offensive coordinator. So what's next?
Why firing Mike LaFleur was the wrong decision for the NY Jets
LaFleur is an imperfect offensive coordinator. At times in 2022, he was a bit stubborn with his scheme, and you could argue he failed to maximize Zach Wilson's talents and play to his strengths.
But ultimately, LaFleur constructed a system that works. He built an offensive scheme that succeeds with anywhere close to competent quarterback play. We've seen that on numerous occasions over the last two years.
LaFleur managed to get good games out of the likes of Josh Johnson, Mike White, Joe Flacco, and Zach Wilson. He was placed in a near-impossible situation with the worst quarterback play in the NFL in each of the last two seasons.
Now, the Jets are stuck in a situation where they need to search for his replacement — and the job opening itself isn't a particularly attractive one.
The Jets don't have a quarterback. No offensive coordinator has lasted more than two seasons with the organization since Brian Schottenheimer (2006-2011). There's also a high chance that whoever is hired is fired after one season if the Jets fail to make the playoffs.
Jets fans might dream of names like Kliff Kingsbury, Todd Monken, or Frank Reich, but why would any of them bank their coaching resumes on that situation? The simple answer is that they wouldn't.
This reeks of a scenario where Robert Saleh pushed hard to keep his guy, but Woody Johnson intervened and forced his hand. And in all honesty, this could be the beginning of the end for Saleh in New York.
The Jets can come out well in this situation. LaFleur was far from perfect, and there are likely upgrades out there. But will the Jets be able to convince any of them to come aboard? That's the million-dollar question.
LaFleur was made the scapegoat for a late-season collapse that was primarily out of his control. The NFL knows this — hence why teams will likely be lining up to hire him. He'll be a hot commodity almost immediately, per multiple reports.
Meanwhile, the Jets will look for their eighth offensive coordinator in 13 years. The revolving door that is the Jets' coaching staff continues to spin with no clear direction. Mike LaFleur deserved better.