The New York Jets are once again looking for a new head coach, they are not looking for a new GM whether or not they should be is irrelevant at this point because it’s not going to happen, and as always is the case fans are both excited and terrified of the possibilities. The Jets appear to be casting a wide net with a lot of names being linked to them in interview, Christopher Johnson told reporters that they will consider college coaches and NFL coaches and coordinators/assistants, there will be no prerequisite that the new coach must have head coaching experience. All of that is good news, as is the fact that Johnson, Mike Maccagnan and Brian Heimerdinger will be leading the search and they will not be using a search firm to consult on the decision.
So let’s take a look at the names that have been linked to the Jets so far. I will rank them in order, starting with what I believe would be the worst hire and working my way up to the best hire.
Adam Gase – Gase would make a fantastic offensive coordinator, but after seeing how he treated players and gave up on talented players and shipped them out to prove a point about how things are going to be done his way or you’re gone is all I need to know. I don’t care that he coached Peyton Manning after he had already become Payton Manning and cool, he got one solid year out of Jay Cutler but yeah, that’s not enough of a selling point. A head coach can act like Gase did in Miami if he has Bill Belichick’s resume, players aren’t going to buy in when said coach is Adam Gase and the Dolphins players couldn’t be happier to see him go. Hard Pass.
Mike McCarthy – I have no allegiances or fandoms to teams, I’m a fan of the sports that I like and I learned awhile ago that for me it’s best to simply root for whichever player(s) I like to watch the most. LeBron James started this trend for me, Aaron Rodgers cemented it. Obviously with my job being to cover the Jets I watch the Jets far more than any other team, over the past eight season the Packers have been comfortably in that number two spot. I love watching Rodgers, he’s an artist more so than a quarterback and he makes throws other quarterbacks simply could never (well quarterbacks not named Patrick Mahomes at least). I say all of this to say I’ve watched Rodgers elevate McCarthy and his awful time-management, basic game-planning, conservative/scared play-calling and questionable roster decision far too much to think McCarthy is the guy to lead the Jets to being anything other than what the Jets have been for the past 50 years.
McCarthy really is just Todd Bowles with an offensive background. You can argue about his experience and how he has a Super Bowl ring all you want and I will continue to not care because the Packers didn’t win that ring because of McCarthy. They won because they had the best quarterback on the planet with a stacked offensive line and plenty of weapons and a damn good defense. In the following years the roster dwindled; some years the offensive line was a mess, other years not enough receivers and/or a useless run game and some awful defenses. McCarthy made poor lineup decisions and never made the necessary adjusts to his game plan to improve anything, truth be told he should have been fired years ago but Rodgers was so good that he continually overcame McCarthy’s faults to get them into the playoffs and Green Bay isn’t firing a Super Bowl winning coach that continually gets to the playoffs even if it’s obvious Rodgers was the one carrying him there.
It is of course possible that McCarthy looks at how Andy Reid rebranded himself and changed his style after leaving the Eagles and dramatically improved with the Chiefs, even if he didn’t fix all of his flaws like clock management, so if I was able to be in the room for the interview and question him then maybe he could sell me on his vision and change my mind. How willing to change is he? Will he be willing to adjust his system? Adjust the system with current trends? Adjust the system based on the talent on the roster? Or is will he continually force his system no matter how square the peg and how round the hole? Obviously this goes for every candidate, but McCarthy is the one I have documented stubbornness to point to that would give me concerns.
Jim Caldwell – Caldwell would make a fine offensive coordinator and would likely be a better head coach than I’m giving him credit for, but I just can’t imagine how anyone could be excited for him even if you’re looking for a “safe” hire. Also it sounds ridiculous but how will Caldwell do relating to these younger players. It’s not something I ever really considered before because coaches have always had to deal with younger players, but we hear more and more about coaches struggling to reach younger kids these days. Maybe it is a ridiculous concern, maybe not but these are some of the things that we can’t possibly know and as as with Gase, Caldwell’s biggest selling point is his time with Manning. Not that he developed him and turned him into Peyton Manning but that he had the good fortune of coaching Manning at the peak of his powers.
Kris Richard – Richard is currently the passing game coordinator and DB’s coach for the Cowboys, but he is best known for his time coaching up the Legion of Boom in Seattle. If you pair Richard with the right offensive coordinator and I think he’d make a great head coach, I only have one concern that can’t be alleviated without me getting to ask the questions in the interview. The one issue I have with hiring a defensive head coach in 2019 is history tells you defensive-minded head coaches love to lean on ball-control style offenses, limiting mistakes and relying on the defense to keep the game close. The Ravens and Seahawks prove that can still get you to the playoffs in today’s game, but why not be like the Bears who have the best overall defense but still get aggressive and creative on offense despite having a limited quarterback. The old strategy has always been to get to third-and-short, but many coaches realized if you’re offense is built that way then you’re pretty screwed if you end up in third-and-long. Ball control offenses work similarly, if you get behind you can’t comeback and why wait for third down if you can pick up the first one first or second down just as easily? Why try to win games 14-10 when you could try and score 30 plus and hold the other team under 20? If I knew Richard would let his OC be aggressive and trust his defense to cover for the offense when the aggressiveness fails then I’d move him up the list, but for know this is where he sits for me.
Eric Bienemy – Bienemy is the offensive coordinator for the Chiefs and right now there is no more fruitful tree in the NFL than the Andy Reid coaching tree. Last year’s Matt Nagy went from Chiefs OC to the Bears HC and before that was Doug Pederson to the Eagles, those two hires sure turned out well. Of course that doesn’t mean the same will be the case for Bienemy but that’s more than enough reason to interview him and at least pick his brain. The concern about Bienemy is that he’s only had one year in this role and he doesn’t even call the plays, Reid does, so we don’t know how much he actually does. I’d argue this might not actually be a bad thing, it might but also might not. If he already doesn’t call the plays then he can hire an OC he trusts to do so and he doesn’t have to worry about neglecting the rest of the team as he’s busy preparing to call plays. The biggest drawback of hiring a coordinator is you’re asking him to either do what he’s always done plus a whole new batch of time consuming responsibilities or you’re asking him to take on all these new responsibilities and neglect what he does best and what got him the job. My biggest concern with Bienemy is similar to Richard, Bienemy’s background is with running backs. Will he be willing to let Darnold air it out? Will his time with Reid convince him that it’s best to use the running game to supplement the passing game? Or will he try to focus on the running game? Again it can work if everything else is great but look at Seattle, you can’t convince me that asking Russell Wilson to do less is best for that team. They can still have a great defense, but they’re paying Russell Wilson like a franchise question so why won’t they let him play like one?
Kliff Kingbury – Full disclosure, this could be somewhat of a disaster hire overall. Ideally you’d get Kingsbury to be the OC, but he probably isn’t leaving USC unless it’s for the big job. Kingsbury getting fired from Texas Tech is obviously going to cause some concern from fans, but keep in mind it’s really hard to win at Texas Tech. The reason why Kingsbury is so high on this list for me is simple, it might not workout for the entire team but it would be great for Sam Darnold’s development and take the Jets offense to new, aggressive and insanely fun levels. Obviously you want the best overall choice, but if you can only pick one thing to focus on and improve over the next couple of years make it Darnold and the offense. Develop him into the star he can be and worry about the defense later. Of course it’s possible to do both and if Kingbury hires the right defensive coordinator than he could achieve that, but he would absolutely turn this offense around and at least Jets fans would get a taste of what it’s like to root for a really good offense. There’s also the Jets connection as he played for the Jets, although briefly (he threw one completion as the Jets quarterbacks) and a couple of the Jets players are definitely onboard.
U damn right! https://t.co/dKWImLJT9M
— Jamal Adams (@TheAdamsEra) January 2, 2019
— Marcus Maye (@alldayMAYE) January 2, 2019
Matt Rhule – A late addition to this list so I’ll keep it brief since this article is already longer than I anticipated, but he was originally excluded because I hadn’t heard his name connected to the Jets in a few weeks. Manish Mehta of the NY Daily News just changed that tweeting out that Jets fans should “keep an eye on Baylor heath coach Matt Rhule.” Rhule was a longtime assistant at Temple where he was widely respected for his work developing players, he worked as an assistant OL coach with the Giants in 2012 before becoming the head coach at Temple from 2013-2016 then took over the program at Baylor as they tried to recover from the disasterous Art Briles regime. Rhule has done a tremendous job building that program back up, is a bright football mind that has experience coaching up both sides of the ball and is a well respected leader. If you can be skeptical of hiring a college coach, but Rhule is someone worth taking that risk on.
Todd Monken – Just look at the job Monken did this season in Tampa Bay with Jameis Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick as his quarterbacks. Monkey incorporated a ton of Air Raid concepts and the Bucs threw the ball all over the field and defenses couldn’t stop them, the only problem for the Bucs was their defense couldn’t stop anybody either. Monken doesn’t have NFL head coaching experience but he was the head coach at Southern Miss. and he completely turned that program around. Monken is well respected and has proven to be a great offensive mind and play-caller. He would absolutely be a huge help to Darnold’s development and would make the Jets offense into a feared unit. Monken would be my first choice if I was calling the shots.