Mike Devlin wasn't looking to go anywhere this off-season, and with Rex Ryan in the head coach's office, Devlin remains "entrenched" in the New York/New Jersey metro area.
"I feel fortunate that Rex felt like he wanted to retain me. I'm excited about it," said Devlin, the Jets' fourth-year assistant coach, all in his field of expertise, the offensive trenches. "All the new coaching additions on the offensive side — Anthony Lynn, Henry Ellard, John DeFilippo — and all the old-school people who stayed, I think that makes for a good group.
"Then with all the new people on the defensive side — Mike Pettine, Kerry Locklin, Jim O'Neil, Doug Plank — it was exciting during minicamp to see all the coaches out there and to see the players flying around, people enjoying the game."
Devlin, like virtually all football lifers, hasn't spent his life in one spot. He spent his college days at Iowa, his pro playing days with Buffalo and Arizona, then moved from coaching gigs with the Cardinals to the Rockets (of Toledo), then back to the NFL the past three seasons with the Jets.
He likes it here. Part of that has to do with the talent he's working with at tight end. He said he's proud of the way Dustin Keller, a rookie last year, has come in and learned the pro game. And he's teaching Kareem Brown how to shift gears from the D-line to the offensive side of the ball.
"I've been proud of the way both Dustin and Kareem have approached this off-season," he said. "Kareem's trying to just pick up the system, but if you watched him as our scout team tight end last year, he can do this. He's athletic enough, he's smart enough."
Ryan and GM Mike Tannenbaum have also brought in some undrafted free agent talent at TE for Devlin to work with beginning with Friday's rookie minicamp. And even a few O-linemen will find themselves doing work with the tights in a Rex-ian tweaking of Brian Schottenheimer's offense.
"If you're just looking at the roster for your blocking tight end, it might be tackle Wayne Hunter," Ryan said after the draft concluded. "He probably blocks better than any tight end that you can get in the draft. Same thing with Robert Turner. If you remember back in Baltimore, we never had a blocking tight end and we used our third tackle as that tight end, and we used it over and over and over."
Devlin likes it at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center for another reason: He doesn't have to uproot his charities from the Northeast.
The 11th annual Coach John S. Devlin Memorial Golf Tournament is a fortnight away. John Devlin is Mike's late father, the former West Chester Football Hall of Fame player who spent the final five years of his 37-year coaching career as defensive coordinator at Bloomsburg University. Mike said the tournament and silent auction have raised $350,000 to help provide college scholarships to players "who best fit Coach Devlin's mold, who may not be the best athletes on the field but who work hard, who are tough and, above all, who never quit."
This year's golf event is set for May 16 on the Windsor Heights Golf Course in Bloomsburg, Pa. You can click here for more information.
Then there is the Devlin Football Camp on Long Island. Actually, it's a youth camp from June 15-19, a high school camp from June 22-23 and a football clinic on June 13. Jets players such as Keller, Nick Mangold, Thomas Jones, Chad Pennington and Eric Barton have been counselors at the affordable camp, which benefits the North Shore Colts Pop Warner team and other local youth programs and charitable organizations.
For more information on the Devlin Football Camp, you can click here.
You get the picture. Devlin's an old school football guy himself. Even though he's a mere 39 years old, a coach beginning his eighth NFL season and a charity organizer, it's all about the 9-year-old kid inside.
"It's your livelihood. Everybody knows that everything depends on the wins and losses," Devlin said. "But at the heart of all these men, there's still a boy who fell in love with this game. It's always how I felt, it's how I always played."