Does Jets’ Latest Coaching Move Hint At Potential Offseason QB Targets?

Todd Downing has ties to both Derek Carr and Ryan Tannehill


Feb 13, 2023

The Jets are in the market for a veteran quarterback.

So, of course we’re going to read between the lines as New York builds its coaching staff for 2023.

The Jets’ recent hiring of Nathaniel Hackett as offensive coordinator raised questions over whether New York intends to target Aaron Rodgers this offseason, as Hackett served as the Green Bay Packers’ offensive coordinator for three seasons (2019-21) alongside Rodgers before his disastrous head-coaching tenure with the Denver Broncos. Those suspicions since have been confirmed, with ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reporting Sunday the Jets inquired about Rodgers’ availability.

Now, we’re left with two other potential QB targets to consider — Derek Carr and Ryan Tannehill — because NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport reported Monday the Jets are hiring Todd Downing as their passing-game coordinator.

Downing was the Raiders’ quarterbacks coach, alongside Carr, in 2015 and 2016, as well as the team’s offensive coordinator in 2017. He later joined the Titans coaching staff after a one-year stint with the Minnesota Vikings and served as Tennessee’s offensive coordinator the last two seasons, alongside Tannehill. Both Carr and Tannehill are rumored to possibly be available this offseason, with the former already confirming his expected exit from Las Vegas.

At the end of the day, hiring Downing might not increase the likelihood of the Jets pursuing either Carr or Tannehill, especially with Rodgers looming as their possible top target should Green Bay move on from its franchise signal-caller. But it’s nevertheless easy to connect the dots as New York faces uncertainty at the quarterback position after a terrible sophomore season from Zach Wilson, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Downing becomes the second coach fired by the Titans to join Robert Saleh’s staff in New York, as the Jets also replaced offensive line coach John Benton with Keith Carter right around the same time they hired Hackett to take over the offensive coordinator position vacated by Mike LaFleur.

The Jets made strides in 2022, posting a 7-10 record after going 6-27 over the previous two seasons. They lost six straight games down the stretch, though, thanks in large to inconsistent quarterback play. It’s become increasingly obvious Wilson isn’t the answer, with team owner Woody Johnson even noting recently that a steady QB could be the missing piece for New York.

Thumbnail photo via George Walker IV/The Tennessean via USA TODAY Sports Images
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