Rob Calabrese

Jets Hire Mike LaFleur As OC

Robert Saleh is the Jets’ new head coach, and he’s taking his SF friends with him. 49ers passing game coordinator Mike LaFleur will serve as his new offensive coordinator, as Mike Silver of NFL.com tweets. Furthermore, Niners offensive line coach John Benton will take on the same job with the Jets while also managing the run game. 

[RELATED: Jets Hire Robert Saleh]

Saleh will also hire at least two more Niners offensive assistants — Greg Knapp has been tapped as the QB coach while Rob Calabrese will be the pass game specialist for Gang Green.

There were seven vacancies in this cycle, and six of those teams requested interviews with Saleh. The Jets came away with the 41-year-old, who is regarded as one of the league’s sharpest defensive minds. Under Saleh’s watch, the 49ers surrendered just 169.2 passing yards per contest in 2019. And, this past year, his unit had the fifth lowest total in total yards surrendered.

The Jets gave Saleh the freedom to build his own staff, something that they were reluctant to do for certain candidates in their last search. For LaFleur, it’s a chance to spread his wings — he’s been with Shanahan since 2014, dating back to his internship with the Browns.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Dolphins, Tagovailoa, Colts, Castonzo, Broncos, Calabrese

Ryan Fitzpatrick helped the Dolphins improve to 7-4 with a win over the Jets on Sunday, but it doesn’t sound like he’ll get his starting gig back anytime soon. Speaking after the game, head coach Brian Flores confirmed rookie Tua Tagovailoa would remain the team’s starter when healthy. “Yeah, if he’s healthy, he’s the guy. I don’t know how many different ways we have to continue to say that. You keep asking, I’ll keep answering the same way,” Flores said, via Mike Garafolo of NFL Network (Twitter link).

Clearly he didn’t leave much wiggle room. It’s not like Fitzpatrick lit the world on fire against New York, but he did have two touchdowns and no turnovers. The offense has undeniably moved better with Fitzpatrick under center than Tagovailoa, but obviously Tua is the future. Flores felt comfortable benching Tagovailoa during their Week 11 loss to the Broncos, but clearly doesn’t want to make a full-on change. That being said with Tagovailoa potentially looking at a multi-week absence due to his thumb injury, Fitzmagic might not be ending too soon. If Fitzpatrick plays the Dolphins into the playoffs, it’ll be very interesting to see whether Flores can avoid changing his tune.

Here’s more from around the AFC as we wrap up Week 12:

  • Colts left tackle Anthony Castonzo went down with a knee injury, and Philip Rivers started coming under immediate pressure the moment backup Le’Raven Clark entered the game. While Castonzo was quickly ruled out with the knee injury, fortunately it looks like he avoided major injury, a source told Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). Rapsheet writes that it sounds like an MCL sprain for the long-time Colt. Head coach Frank Reich said after the game a worst-case scenario had been avoided. It sounds like Castonzo won’t be out too long, but any missed time would be a brutal blow for this offense. Indy will need him as they make their playoff push.
  • The Broncos were in an unprecedented situation Sunday as all of their quarterbacks were ruled out due to COVID-19 issues. That led to practice squad receiver Kendall Hinton, who played some quarterback in college, getting the start under center. But before Denver turned to Hinton they initially wanted to make offensive quality control coach Rob Calabrese their starting quarterback against the Saints, sources told Adam Schefter of ESPN.com. Calabrese has been with the team the past two years and Denver felt he knew the system better than anyone else. Schefter notes the league rejected the request out of principle against coaches being activated to keep teams from stashing potential players on the coaching staff. Calabrese played some quarterback at UCF, and ended his college career in 2012. Calabrese apparently ran the offense during practice on Sunday. It’s too bad Roger Goodell didn’t allow it, as that would’ve been even more bonkers and fun than the Hinton situation.