Just after the news broke this morning that the New York Jets hired Nathaniel Hackett to be their next offensive coordinator, it was announced that Keith Carter was hired as the run game coordinator and offensive line coach.
Carter is a young 40-year-old with 18 years of coaching experience. Of those 18 seasons, Carter has spent 10 in the NFL.
While he has no direct rapport with Hackett, there are a few other noteworthy connections in place with Carter.
Both Carter and Robert Saleh were together for two years in Seattle (2012-13), where they were both quality control coaches. Some of Hackett’s most valuable experience to date came with Matt LaFleur in Green Bay. Carter and LaFleur spent three years together, two in Atlanta (2015-16) and one in Tennessee (2018). Lastly, Carter was also a part of the same coaching staff in Atlanta as Jeff Ulbrich for three years (2015-17). Certainly, more than enough familiarity to make this a smooth transition for Carter.
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New York Jets’ Keith Carter’s best work to date:
Most of what Carter is known for is his last five years, which were spent with the Titans as their offensive line coach. In three of those five years (2019-21), Carter helped the Titans’ rushing attack finish in the top five of the NFL. They also had a top-10 finish in 2018 as the seventh-best team on the ground in football.
One area it is well-known how much the 2022 Jets struggled was with their red zone efficiency. Not only did the Jets add someone in Hackett who did a lot of red zone preparation with the Packers. Also, Carter helped the Titans execute at a high level in the red zone over each of the last four years. From 2019-22, the Titans had a top-six red zone offense that happened to be number one in 2019.
While there, arguably the most impressive thing to make note of with Carter coaching the offensive line of the Titans was the development of their right guard, Nate Davis. He was a third-round pick of the Titans in 2019 who became a very good player for them, started 54 games over the last four years, and is now a free agent. Possibly, with the Jets’ offensive line concerns, could they show some interest in Davis? Having Carter now potentially helps.
Carter joins a Jets team with a few young and talented offensive linemen. Of course, Alijah Vera-Tucker, but getting Mekhi Becton to play up to his potential and, developing young and athletic tackle Max Mitchell will be important for Carter with the offensive line.
Then, with the run game, there is much to get excited about for young running backs Breece Hall, Michael Carter, and Bam Knight with the Hackett and Carter hires. They both come from teams with wide zone running schemes, a system in which Hall, Carter, and Knight all shared success in the last two years. Hackett obviously did some incredible work with Aaron Jones, AJ Dillon, and Jamaal Williams. The lone year the three of them were teammates (2020), they finished eighth in rushing. Carter, of course, had a front-row ticket to Derrick Henry’s dominance over the last five years.
With Carter specifically, his role ties directly to the improvement of the Jets’ running game and offensive line, two areas of weakness for most of a year ago. The great thing is that Carter will have a healthy Breece Hall and Alijah Vera-Tucker at his disposal. Carter is still a young coach with some experience and will play an important part in the expected growth of the Jets’ offense next year.