Dan Leberfeld's Blog

Playcalling most important, other stuff is gravy 01.26.23

When you are looking for a new offensive coordinator, you don’t hire the person to attract a quarterback.

You hire the person because they are a good offensive play-caller, a good offensive strategist, a good offensive chess player.

And the Jets feel they have landed a guy like that in new offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett.

If he happens to help them attract a veteran QB, that is gravy.

First and foremost, you want a guy who is really good at calling offensive plays.


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Is Rapoport correct about Zach Wilson? 01.24.23

There was a report last week on Zach Wilson that caused a stir:

“There would be a mutiny if Zach Wilson is QB1 again,” The Score’s Jordan Schultz said on The Pat McAfee Show. “It’s not gonna happen. … In speaking to some players on the team, his approach, or lack thereof, was not well regarded. Everyone knows this guy is super talented. He could be the franchise, but you want to see a lot more. Whether it’s late to meetings, screwing around in meetings, not having the right attitude, that’s what I gather.”

Schultz made a mistake in his report, which is unacceptable, and got destroyed for it: Wilson has never been late for meetings.

So by doing that, people dismissed his entire report.

NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweeted:  “The on-field product was not what anyone wanted. But Zach Wilson worked insanely hard, was on time, and did what was necessary to prepare.”

How does Rapoport know that Wilson works “insanely hard?” Wilson might, but how does Rapoport know? He’s around the team maybe once or twice a year.

Consider something former NFL GM Mike Lombardi said after Wilson was benched following the New England game:

“He’s not detailed enough or understands how to be detailed enough,” Lombardi said on VSIN. “I’m not saying he’s not going to get it, but it’s a process you have to go through and the preparation you need to play QB in the National Football League goes far beyond the 2.5 hours of practices you take to the field. I think there are other things in Zach Wilson’s life that kind of deter that from him.”

Wilson’s work ethic is probably somewhere in between the extremes of Rapoport and Lombardi.

Wilson does work hard, but perhaps he could work even harder, like a lot of young players.


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Shouldn’t Jets stay with “Best scheme in the world” 01.20.23

It’s not like they were running an offensive system that doesn’t have a great track record.

So why would you want to move on from it?

The Jets ran the Kyle Shanahan offensive system the last two years under coordinator Mike LaFleur, who they recently moved on from.

After hiring LaFleur in 2021, Robert Saleh called the Shanahan scheme LaFleur was bringing to Florham Park – “The best scheme in the world.”

So why would you want to move away from that?

Why not bring in somebody else who runs the same thing, and perhaps can run it better?

It’s a very QB-friendly system when well executed.

“Kyle (Shanahan) will give the QB a lot of easy throws,” said one long-time NFL executive. “One thing about Kyle’s offense, there are a lot of easy throws for the QB.”

Just look at the easy throws Shanahan has provided San Francisco rookie 7th-round QB Brock Purdy this season.

So if you think it’s the “best system in the world” why not hire somebody who will keep on running it?


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Was that the best way to speak to him? 01.20.23

Some would argue this might not have been the best way to handle the situation.

The Athletic’s Zach Rosenblatt reported this week that Jets wide receiver Elijah Moore, at the Thursday practice following the Jets’ 27-10 win over the Green Bay Packers on Oct. 16, told the team’s then OC Mike LaFleur to “go f–k yourself” and “you suck.”

Moore was reportedly unhappy with having zero catches in Green Bay. Jets coach Robert Saleh sent Moore home from practice after this outburst, and the receiver requested a trade shortly thereafter.

Some would argue, that telling one of your bosses to “go f–k yourself” and “you suck” is somewhat out of line at the workplace.

Now some on Twitter would argue that it was totally appropriate because they feel LaFleur did a poor job as Jets OC.

But some would argue, while LaFleur might not have done the best job, he’s a decent person, and perhaps the receiver shouldn’t have spoken to him that way.

It depends on your worldview.


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Jets can’t let this drive OC search 01.19.23

This should not be the reason the Jets hire a new offensive coordinator.

Talking about the candidate’s ability to attract a veteran QB to the Jets.

You hire a great play-caller, a great offensive chess player, a great offensive teacher, not a QB recruiter.

Last year, the Denver Broncos reportedly hired a head coach because they thought he could get Aaron Rodgers to follow him. It didn’t happen.

The concept of hiring a guy to get a certain QB to follow him should be way down on the list. Way down.

Just hire a great candidate to handle the job – running the offense.

Let the GM focus on finding a QB. An NFL OC’s job is to do a great job coaching the offense; he’s not a college recruiting coordinator.


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Jets need to avoid getting a hostage 01.17.23

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin has a saying about players who might not be all in with the program:

“We need volunteers, not hostages.”

So with all these quarterbacks the media proposes the Jets go after, in free agency or trades, if they acquire one, they better make sure the person is into being with them and wasn’t sent there against their will or is just there because they overpaid him.

It seemed like Brett Favre was a hostage in 2008, but he was traded to the Jets and had no choice if he wanted to get paid.

Do you really think RB Le’Veon Bell was into being a Jet in 2019-20, or the money was too great to turn down?

Why do you think Deshaun Watson picked Cleveland? There are $230 million fully guaranteed reasons he went there.

The point is simple, don’t make a trade or sign a player, who, in his heart of hearts, doesn’t want to be there.

Money can’t buy you love.

It almost never ends well.

You’ve got to read the tea leaves.

You need volunteers, not hostages.


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Is this the best way to go for Jets? 01.16.23

The Jets have cast a vast net all over the NFL in their search for a new offensive coordinator, and plan to talk to a slew of candidates.

So what kind of candidate should they look to hire?

Some would argue, it might be in their best interest, to hire a candidate who has been an NFL offensive play-caller before, like Frank Reich, Darrell Bevell, or somebody like that.

Why roll the dice on somebody who hasn’t done it before? They just did that?

In a year they need to win, why not go with settled science, and somebody who has proven they can do it, as opposed to guessing whether a position coach can handle the job?


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Do you agree with Joe Douglas on this? 01.13.23

Jets GM Joe Douglas made a powerful statement about his team on one side of the ball:

“The defense was obviously a championship-caliber defense this year,” Douglas said.

Some would agree with him.

But some might say they need to play the run better and cause more turnovers to be considered “championship caliber.”

It all depends on your worldview.


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When Jets hire new coordinator, they must avoid this thinking! 01.11.23

And what kind of thinking is that?

“We are hiring this new offensive coordinator to fix Zach Wilson.”

Don’t do it.

Hire the best offensive coordinator, the best offensive chess player you can find, and if he happens to help Wilson turn it around, that is gravy.

When Woody Johnson hires a new offensive coordinator, he needs to avoid falling into that “We need a guy who can fix Zach” claptrap.

Just hire the best offensive-play caller you can find.

If he comes from the Shanahan tree, that would be ideal, so the young offensive players don’t have to start from square one with a new playbook. And it’s a system that works – just look at San Francisco.


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Two different kinds of owners 01.11.23

They are very different people . . .

When the Jets hired Joe Douglas to be their GM in 2019, and then Robert Saleh to be their head coach in 2021, those men were hired by owner Christopher Johnson, who was filling in for his brother, Woody Johnson, who had an assignment overseas.

Christopher and Woody aren’t wired the same.

And as for ownership style, Christopher is considered more hands-off, and generally lets his football people do their things.

Woody’s history, prior to his three years away from the team, was much more hands-on, with the trade for Brett Favre in August of 2008 being an example.

So the report from former NFL GM Michael Lombardi, on his podcast earlier this week, should not come as a surprise:

“I hear the owner wants (Mike) LaFleur gone and (Robert) Saleh is digging in the trenches. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. I heard the owner wants to get rid of the entire offensive staff.” – Lombardi said Monday on the GM Shuffle.

This doesn’t sound like a position Christopher would take, and he’s the guy who hired Douglas and Saleh. According to a league source, Christopher told his GM and coach that he would take a “light touch” as owner.

You have to wonder how Douglas/Saleh feel about their new boss, a man who didn’t interview or hire them. Do the men have any buyer’s remorse?

In any business, we all know, when the boss changes, often many other things change as well, and it’s sometimes not what you signed up for as an employee.


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Jets late season struggles can’t get fixed by words 01.10.23

Tee-shirt slogans won’t fix this . . .

The Jets losing their last six games and missing the playoffs was related to football issues that need to be fixed.

If they want to “finish” stronger next year, they have a lot of football things to fix.

Like their run defense, which was bad since the bye-week. It’s hard to win in this league if you can’t stop the run. They clearly need more beef up front and some back seven players to read their keys better.

They also need to make their offensive play-calling less predictable.

“It seemed like they (opposing defenses) had an idea of what we were trying to do,” Jets WR Garrett Wilson said on Monday.

They also need to fix their offensive line and get more consistent QB play.

There are no fortune cookie answers to the Jets’ collapse.

It’s about improving the roster and fixing some schematics.


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Mike White isn’t falling into the trap 12.29.22

There is only one thing Mike White (and the rest of his teammates) should be focusing on right now.

And that is beating the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Nothing beyond that should be on their minds.

So White didn’t go for the cheese when asked the following questions on Wednesday:

Q)It seems to be a remarkable opportunity for you going forward, long-term, perhaps establish yourself as the starter here for more than a couple of weeks. Do you see it as that?

“I remember when we first talked when this whole ride started,” White said. “It was week-to-week, day-to-day. I got to fall back on that. Just because it’s longer in the season, you can’t do that. You can’t do that for yourself because you won’t play well, your mind will race. I feel like I’ve said that 15 times, but I truly believe it. I’ll say it 16 or 17 more times. I think that’s the only way to play this game, especially in this League. It’s a week-to-week basis. Things change so fast. You just got to be in the moment, be in the now, and focus on that.”

Smart guy.

If you look too far into the future, you can mess up your focus on the current job at hand.

So while some are asking him to focus on what might happen after this season, he’s not going there right now.


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Jets need to fix this ASAP 12.27.22

It’s hard to win in the NFL when you don’t do this well.

Talking about a defense stopping the run.

And the Jets haven’t done a good job of stopping the run since the bye-week.

New England, Chicago, Minnesota, Buffalo, Detroit and Jacksonville all ran on the Jets.

This obviously isn’t a good trend.

It goes without saying that great defensive line play isn’t just about having a good pass rush.

The Jets play the same defensive system as the San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers have a dominant run defense. So it’s not the system leading to the Jets’ run defense issues.

If the Jets hope to win their last two games and have a chance to sneak into the playoffs (with some help), their run defense needs to step up.


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This unit needs to step up for Jets 12.27.22

The coach was asked if he would make any line-up changes to this unit that has been somewhat inconsistent recently.

Talking about the Jets offensive line.

“No, they’re fighting their tails off,” Robert Saleh said. “The o-line has had a ton of injuries throughout the year. I know just along the offensive line with the guys we’re rolling out there now, they’re fighting their tails off. The amount of rehab and regen they’re trying to get through week-in and week-out to take care of their bodies and the sacrifice that they’re making for this team to just be able to get out on the football field on Sunday is much appreciated. So, as far as personnel changes and all of that, we have the eight guys we’re going to war with every week, and I promise you that they’re in a lot of pain and fighting their tails off.”

They might have injuries and are “fighting their tails off” but the probably need to play better in the last two games if the Jets hope to win these games.


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Saleh’s response to Fox Sports Report 12.26.22

On Saturday, Fox Sports had a blockbuster story about a prominent Jets player and his future.

“Expect the Jets to move on from [Zach Wilson] after this season,” Jay Glazer announced Saturday on the Fox NFL pregame show.

Jets coach Robert Saleh was asked about that report on Monday.

“That report is all speculation,” Saleh said. “He still has a huge plan in our future, and like I said, we’re not quitting on the young man. We’re going to do everything we can to develop him.”

On November 23, the Jets hit the reset button with Wilson to help him work on his mechanics and footwork, and they made Mike White the starting quarterback.

But after White hurt his ribs in Buffalo, they went back to Wilson for the last two games, clearly before his mechanics had been fixed.

Now they are going back to the original plan, to hit the reset button, and allow Wilson time to fix his mechanics and footwork.

“The plan for Zach, it hasn’t changed,” Saleh said. “I still think he’s got a future here. I still think he’s going to be a really good quarterback. He needs time to sit back and continue the development that we’re trying to re-kickstart, if you will, after the New England game. We still have him in our future and our plans.”


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Blockbuster announcement from Glazer on the Jets 12.25.22

Fox NFL Insider Jay Glazer made a significant announcement regarding the future of a prominent Jets player

“Expect the Jets to move on from [Zach Wilson] after this season,” Glazer announced Saturday on the Fox NFL pregame show.

While there has been speculation about what the Jets might do after this season with their 23-year-0ld QB, who has struggled with accuracy and decision-making his first two seasons, this is the first report stating that the Jets “expect” to move on.

On Friday, Jets coach Robert Saleh said: “We haven’t seen the last of [Wilson], but right now he has just got to focus on finding ways to get better. We’ve got to find ways to help him.”

But have we seen the last of him with the Jets after this season?

That is what Glazer’s blockbuster announcement is basically saying.


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