While AAF players have moved up to the NFL (i.e Josh Johnson, Garret Gilbert, etc), no coaches have moved up yet. In a surprising new development, Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback and current San Diego Fleet offensive coordinator Jon Kitna could be the first.
The news was broken this morning by Adam Schefter that Kitna is a leading candidate for the open quarterback coaching position in the Dallas Cowboys organization. To further confirm the news out of Dallas, NFL reporter Jane Slater has been told that Kitna is a “legitimate candidate” to be Dak Prescott‘s next quarterback coach. If Kitna ends up with the Cowboys, it would be his first NFL coaching job.
During his playing days, Jon Kitna was a journeyman quarterback who spent half of his 16-year career as a backup.
In the other eight seasons, he was either named the starter or forced into action because of injury. His best season came in 2003 with the Cincinnati Bengals, when he was named the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year and threw for over 3,500 yards and 26 touchdowns. He retired after a back injury forced him to the injured reserve in 2011 but was called to back up Kyle Orton in 2013. Throughout his career, he struggled with turnovers. He totaled 165 interceptions and 45 lost fumbles over his career to his 180 total touchdowns.
After he retired, Kitna took a head coaching job at his alma mater, Lincoln High School in Tacoma, Washington. He led a three-year turnaround of Lincolns football program, leading them to an 11-1 record in 2014 before leaving Lincoln High School to coach football in Texas. He took over at Waxahachie High School in 2015, leading them to two 6-4 seasons before leaving to coach at Brophy College Preparatory in 2018.
He was named the offensive coordinator for the San Diego Fleet in the summer of 2018. He played under Mike Martz in 2006 and 2007, having both of his 4,000-yard seasons under Martz. This connection could be one of the reasons he was hired in the first place.
If the San Diego Fleet do lose Jon Kitna to the Dallas Cowboys, it shouldn’t hurt them too much. Mike Martz is an offensive minded coach, and the Fleet are most likely installing Martz’s offense. This limits the loss of the offensive coordinator since Martz can call the plays if needed. If Kitna does leave, I could see someone like wide receiver coach Az-Zahir Hakim taking over as the offensive coordinator because of his familiarity with Martz’s offense (he played under Martz for four seasons). The San Diego Fleet would most likely look outside the organization for a new quarterback coach if this happened. It is also possible that Kitna stays with the Fleet for the remainder of the AAF season before leaving for the NFL and the Dallas Cowboys.
Former NFL QB Jon Kitna, now offensive coordinator for the San Diego Fleet in the Alliance of American Football, is expected to become the Cowboys’ QB coach, per a league source. Dallas’ current QB coach, Kellen Moore, is a leading candidate to become Cowboys’ OC, per sources.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 20, 2019
While this does show the level of talent the AAF has at the coaching level, it could be the beginning of a dangerous trend. If this trend continues (coaches leaving the AAF for the NFL), it could become a threat to the long term stability of the AAF. A high rate of turnover in the coaching staff would be very dangerous to the league, as team quality would drop because of the constant turnover. But in the meantime, San Diego Fleet President Jeff Garner is happy with the trend of sending “quality talent to the NFL”, and so should the rest of us AAF fans. Hopefully moves like this shows everyone that the AAF has NFL level talent on the field and the sideline.