The Jets may lose one of the key cogs that helped them find so much defensive success in recent years. The Daily News has learned that defensive coordinator Mike Pettine has turned down a contract extension offer that would keep him with the team beyond this season.
The Jets typically attempt to extend coaches on their final year of their deals, but Pettine will effectively become a free agent after the season, according to sources. Pettine, who came to the Jets with Rex Ryan from the Ravens, wasn’t immediately available for comment.
With so much uncertainty swirling around the Jets heading into the offseason, losing Pettine would be a significant blow to the team’s most productive unit. Ryan’s trust in Pettine was one of the most critical elements of stabilizing a team that was on the precipice of falling out of the playoff picture a couple times during the season.
Pettine's success with the Jets would make him a potential head coaching candidate after the dominos fall across the league after the season.
The Jets have finished first, third and fifth in total defense under Pettine. His unit was the backbone of the teams that went to two consecutive AFC Championship games in 2009 and 2010.
Despite losing All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis to season-ending ACL injury early in the year, the Jets are eighth in total defense -- and No. 2 in pass defense -- with two weeks left. Pettine's unit helped keep the Jets’ playoff hopes alive in the past several weeks before a 14-10 loss to the Titans on Monday night mathematically eliminated them from postseason contention.
Pettine admitted to reporters on Thursday that a few of his defensive players have expressed frustrations about feeling the need to pitch a shutout each week due to the team’s offensive struggles this season.
“I know it’s frustrating that they feel like they have to do it,“ Pettine said. “In the past maybe it affected me as a play caller where you feel like, ‘Hey, listen I can’t go too much risk-reward here because if we go down a certain amount, there’s a reasonable chance we’re not going to get back in it.’ … I think I changed that where we stayed aggressive maybe in times I wouldn’t have. I just think it’s human nature. I think it wears on our guys. They are competitive. They want to win. They want to do everything they can to help the team win… We just preach to our guys: Stay the course… When we get out there, it’s more TV time for us.”
The Jets have vaulted from 19th to eighth in total defense thanks, in part, to their improved third-down defense that has allowed opponents to convert just 4 of their last 44 attempts in the past three games.