Todd Bowles’ staff makeover has officially begun.
The Jets announced Tuesday that offensive coordinator Chan Gailey has retired and that five other assistant coaches — Kevin Patullo (quarterbacks), Pepper Johnson (defensive line), Mark Collins (outside linebackers), Marcel Shipp (running backs) and Joe Danna (defensive backs) also will not return next season.
“I appreciate all of their hard work and commitment and wish them the best,” Bowles said in a statement.
Though Gailey was not expected to return, news of his retirement came shortly after he expressed a deep passion for coaching. “I always have loved to coach. I think it’s in my blood,” Gailey, who will turn 65 Thursday, told reporters last week. “I think it’ll be there until I go to the grave.”
But in Tuesday’s statement released by the team, Gailey said he informed Bowles “prior to the 2016 season” that his second season with the Jets would be his last.
“I thought it was best to tell him early, so that he could begin to think about how he would move the team forward on offense,” Gailey said. “While we did not have the season we all wanted to have, I think there are some great people here at the Jets and in the New York/New Jersey area. I wish them all the best moving forward.”
The Jets’ offense, led by quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, amassed a franchise-record 5,925 yards and 387 points in 2015, the team’s most since 1998. But Fitzpatrick’s regression, Gailey’s questionable play-calling and season-ending injuries to receiver Eric Decker and four-fifths of their starting offensive line helped to derail the offense this season. The unit finished 12th in rushing, 27th in passing and 30th in scoring.
Bowles, who coaxed Gailey out of retirement when he accepted the head-coaching job in January 2015, said, via the team: “I’m grateful to Chan for joining our coaching staff and enjoyed working with him. The respect that I have for him as a person and a coach only increased during our time together.”
Since 2011, the Jets have had four offensive coordinators — Brian Schottenheimer, Tony Sparano (2012), Marty Mornhinweg (2013-14) and Gailey. The next person who accepts the position will have to sort through the Jets’ conundrum at quarterback.
The organization isn’t looking to re-sign the twice-benched Fitzpatrick, who threw 17 interceptions and 12 touchdowns. So that leaves the unproven Bryce Petty, who went 1-3 as a starter before ending the season on injured reserve with a torn labrum in his left (non-throwing) shoulder, and second-round pick Christian Hackenberg, who did not play a down during his rookie season.
Asked Monday to assess the job Gailey did in 2016, Bowles said: “I don’t think he did very well. I don’t think I did very well. I don’t think any coach did very well with the record we have.”
But the defensive struggles were equally alarming, considering Bowles’ experience on that side of the ball. The defense finished 11th overall, 11th in rushing, 17th in passing and 28th in scoring. The Jets’ highest-paid players also underperformed, particularly cornerback Darrelle Revis and lineman Muhammad Wilkerson. As a result, there was speculation defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers also would be fired.
When asked Monday about the breakdown of responsibility between him and Rodgers, Bowles said he had “relinquished most” of the day-to-day control of meetings. “They run their own meetings,” he said. “I run the show because I’m the head coach, but there are a lot of intricacies going on there that I don’t do that Kacy does a ton of that doesn’t include me. But I’m understanding and I’m aware of everything that is going on.”
The Jets’ offense regressed in the second year under coordinator Chan Gailey (NFL rank in parentheses).
370.3 (10) Yards per game 329.2 (26)
253.6 (13) Passing yards.216.6 (27)
116.8 (10) Rushing yards112.6 (12)
24.2 (11) Points per game 17.2 (30)