FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — In an unusual midseason move, the New York Jets have added former NFL quarterback John Beck — Zach Wilson‘s personal coach — to the coaching staff for the remainder of the season.
Beck, wearing a headset and Jets coaching garb, was spotted on the sideline during Sunday’s 34-31 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. Hired as as a full-time assistant, Beck will be on the sideline for every game.
The move is significant because Wilson, the second overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft, has been struggling. Perhaps coach Robert Saleh is hoping the reunion will settle Wilson once he returns from a knee injury, which could be next week.
Beck, 40, has no NFL coaching experience, but he’s highly regarded within industry circles. He provides instruction for several NFL quarterbacks out of the 3DQB facility in Huntington Beach, California. He has worked with Wilson for several years and was instrumental during the pre-draft process. They connected during the Jets’ recent bye week, meeting at BYU — their alma mater — for a workout.
“He went to see John and I was like, ‘Why not just bring him here?”’ Saleh said Tuesday. “So we just started talking about it and one thing leads to another. Now there’s just a really good plan in terms of how to get him through the rest of the year and keep himself connected and keep everything tight.”
Beck’s arrival comes at a pivotal time for the Jets (2-5), who may have a looming quarterback controversy. Backup Mike White, in his first career start, passed for 405 yards and three touchdowns against Cincinnati and will start again Thursday night against the Indianapolis Colts.
What happens after that could be up in the air, as Saleh has remained noncommittal about his plans. If the Jets win again and/or White plays well, he could stick with the hot hand. Wilson, injured nine days ago, is expected to practice next week, but his status for the Nov. 14 game against the Buffalo Bills is less certain.
First-time offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur has come under fire because of Wilson’s struggles and the slow start for the offense. Before Sunday, the Jets were last in most of the major statistical categories.
Against the Bengals, they tweaked the operation, sending LaFleur to the coaches’ booth to call plays. Senior offensive assistant Matt Cavanaugh, hired in August to replace the late Greg Knapp, had a bigger in-game role from the sideline. In the first six games, LaFleur called plays from the sideline because it was Wilson’s preference.
The Jets also have a first-time quarterbacks coach on staff, Rob Calabrese. It’s unclear how he fits into the equation now that Beck is on staff.
Beck, a second-round pick of the Miami Dolphins in 2007, was a member of four different NFL teams, ending his career in 2011 with Washington. He played nine games, starting seven (0-7).