No, retired special-teams coach Mike Westhoff isn't interested in returning to the New York Jets (they haven't asked), but the outspoken former coach has strong feelings about the job opening.
“I don’t like the fact that only after one year you would fire Bobby April,” Westhoff said Thursday on ESPN New York 98.7, which pays him as an analyst. “I know him, but it’s not like this is a friend of mine. I’m very disappointed in the fact that happened. Frankly, I’ll tell you exactly how I feel. I think it’s cowardice. And that’s a one-word synonym for the two-word phrase I really think.”
Westhoff continued, essentially saying coach Todd Bowles made April the scapegoat for failing to make the playoffs.
“You can’t let Buffalo beat you twice if you think you’re good enough to play in the playoffs. You can’t do that,” Westhoff said. “But anyways, what (firing April) says to me is: 'Well, we’ve got to blame somebody. So, let’s blame these guys.'"
Westhoff acknowledged the Jets had "a tough year" on special teams. That's an understatement, as they finished in the bottom-five in most of the major statistical categories.
While praising Bowles and general manager Mike Maccagnan for making "tremendous moves" that "fortified this football team," Westhoff added, "They didn’t do anything with special teams. They did nothing. Zero. So why would you think it’d be that good?
“Maybe if there were some things we don’t know, maybe some mandates that they asked and didn’t get done. Well, then I understand that. But you know, you gave the guy a chance, you gave him one year and you didn’t do anything to help him out. What makes you think all of a sudden they’re going to be pretty good? It’s not going to happen.”
There's some legitimacy to what Westhoff said, especially with regard to the lack of personnel, but there's another factor at play: Bowles already has a potential replacement in mind. As soon as he fired April, the first name that jumped into my head was Keith Armstrong, the Atlanta Falcons' special-teams coach. Bowles and Armstrong were teammates at Temple in the 1980s. Bowles tried to hire him last year, but was blocked by the Falcons. This time, Armstrong's contract reportedly is expiring, so he'll be a free agent unless he re-ups with Atlanta.
Don't be surprised if there's an Owl reunion at One Jets Drive.