To say the Jets have to get it right in hiring their next head coach is an understatement.
The Jets have been through the coaching merry-go-round since Bill Parcells coached his last game in 1999. Bill Belichick lasted only one day until he decided to quit as “HC of the NYJ” after one day, and that was the day he was supposed to be introduced as the new head coach. Al Groh, Herman Edwards, Eric Mangini, Rex Ryan and Todd Bowles were hired to be fired. This is going to be the sixth head coach that Jets CEO Chris Johnson and Jets owner Woody Johnson (by proxy) will hire. That’s the way it goes when this franchise has missed the playoffs frequently. They are going to try again to get it right.
The next coaching hire will leave a lasting legacy whether it’s good or bad for Jets CEO Chris Johnson and Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan. By the time Woody Johnson finishes his tenure as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Johnson and Maccagnan will likely be gone if they don’t get it right with this hiring.
There’s no excuse to get it wrong. This job should be appealing for up-and-coming coaches and proven coaches because of Jets quarterback Sam Darnold. A good to great quarterback can make an average offensive coach into a great coach, and he can make his coach stay on the job for a long time. Darnold fits that bill. A bad hire such as hiring a defensive coach or a coach who believes in having a quarterback throw checkdown passes could set the Jets back another five years, and that would be wasting Darnold’s years right there. The Jets can’t make the same mistake twice as they did when they hired Ryan with a quarterback being groomed in Mark Sanchez. Ryan had no interest or patience in developing Sanchez since he felt defense was the be-all end-all to winning games.
There are already doubts the Jets will get it right because they are the Jets, and the Johnsons are not exactly bright when it comes to hiring football people.
John Harbaugh would have been an ideal hire with John DeFilippo as the offensive coordinator, but the Baltimore Ravens are bringing him back as a head coach after leading them to the playoffs with rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson down the stretch.
Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin could be available if he is fired. He would be a solid choice, though the Rooney family are inclined to fire him.
Mike McCarthy would be a fine choice, but there are questions if he even wants to coach the Jets. It remains to be seen if he wants to deal with the New York media. Plus, he has a better rapport with the Browns front office since he worked with Browns general manager John Dorsey during their Green Bay Packers days. With the Browns looking for a head coach, it’s likely he’s heading there, especially since he knows he can win with Baker Mayfield at quarterback.
Adam Gase would be the best of all the coaching candidates available for a head coaching job. He did a fine job of maximizing the most of a marginal Miami Dolphins roster. He can only do so much with Ryan Tannehill at quarterback. This is why he would intrigue the Jets since he can do well with Darnold at quarterback. Plus, he is not going to command a high salary that McCarthy would seek.
The Jets may have to look at hiring an another hotshot assistant such as Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Todd Monken or USC offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury or Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy learning on the job as a head coach. This is the worst case scenario. The Jets already hired enough of guys learning on the job as head coach. They must get a head coach who knows how to win. They need a coach who will bring credibility to players. They have to get a coach who can lead.
Yes, teams have fared well hiring an up-and-coming coach waiting for an opportunity as the Chicago Bears demonstrated with Matt Nagy and the Los Angeles Rams with Sean McVay. Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid has always developed good coaches on his staff in his history, so the Jets have plenty to choose from.
Still, it’s going to be a hard-sell for the public. Besides Mangini, the Johnsons have not had success hiring a coach that can grow into the job and be with the team for as long as they envisioned.
For anyone that touts Ryan, let’s not forget he won with Mangini’s players, who wanted to prove they can win without Mangini. Once his players were gone, Ryan flopped.
Coaching in New York and coaching a troubled franchise should not be ideal for a coach learning on the job. This can’t be an entry-level job.
Firing Bowles was easy. Hiring becomes the hard part for Chris Johnson and Maccagnan. They need to find a way to get either Gase or McCarthy or they better hope they strike big with another young assistant.
No one said it was going to be easy. No one envies the Jets for going through another process of hiring a head coach. That’s why owners preach stability with teams. They don’t want to go through the work of finding the next guy, but here are the Jets again since they can’t get it right.
They will give it another college try with the idea they don’t do this again for a long time. They hoped it was Bowles that would have stayed a long time, and he did show promise in his first season by going 10-6 and had the Jets fighting for a wild-card spot until the Buffalo Bills beat them in the final game of the season. Instead, he flopped the next three seasons and he finished his Jets coaching career with a forgettable 24-40 record.
If they get this one wrong, they may never get it right.
They are going to need a prayer for the next coach to make it work based on their coaching history.