Turn On The Jets 12 Pack – New York Jets Head Coach Candidates

Joe Caporoso with thoughts on the New York Jets Head Coach candidates and predictions in this week’s TOJ 12 Pack…

Welcome back to another edition of the Turn On The Jets 12 Pack. It is offseason time…also known as the best time of the year for the New York Jets (at least over the past 8 years). I finished up the regular season going 10-6 on their W/L predictions and 8-8 against the spread.

Thoughts on the Jets Head Coach options, in no particular order…

1 – Mike McCarthy: If you had to name a “frontrunner” McCarthy is probably the guy and has been ever since he was fired by the Green Bay Packers midseason. There seems to be a consensus from the local media that he is the top guy, which the organization will absolutely take notice of and McCarthy breaks the Jets ongoing streak of hiring first time Head Coaches. He also has a glossy win/loss record and a Super Bowl victory to his name. It will not be a challenging messaging “sell” for Christopher Johnson and Mike Maccagnan.

Here is a question though, if you watched Green Bay play weekly over the past two years, with no knowledge of who their Head Coach was, would you have any interest in hiring that individual as the Jets next Head Coach? My guess is no, mostly due to the lack of creativity in their offensive scheme,  porous game management and a less than impressive supporting coaching staff (all familiar things to Jets fans). People who are advocating for McCarthy are advocating for a resume that was mostly stocked 5-10 years ago. There is no evidence McCarthy is ahead of where the league is going and that he is the predominant reason Aaron Rodgers has achieved everything he has throughout his career. The comparisons to Andy Reid are misguided as aptly outlined by Dan Essien in this article.

Beyond assistants, Reid has shown the ability to keep his offense fresh for more than a decade. Despite the fact his best offensive minds have moved on over the years, Reid’s offense continues to get better. He’s always been at the forefront of innovation and he’s always shown he can succeed with any type of quarterback. Not only does he not get enough credit for what he did with Alex Smith, he doesn’t get enough credit for what he did with Michael Vick. He signed a guy that had been out of the NFL for two years, and built him back up in a year. Vick was NFL comeback player of the year and a Pro Bowler in 2010 while posting career highs in TD passes, completion percentage and QBR.

Reid has succeeded with all sorts of levels of talent at quarterback. Of late, McCarthy has been underwhelming with one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. Mike McCarthy is not Andy Reid and no one should ever insinuate there’s anything more than a 0.000000001% chance he can do what Reid has done.

There are also questions about a prospective marriage with Mike Maccagnan, which is where his resume does come into play. Why would McCarthy ever be deferential or co-own a situation with a GM who is 24-40 in his career, when McCarthy has been to the playoffs multiple times and won a Super Bowl, no matter how long ago it was?

From Maccagnan’s perspective, there are two lines of thinking. He is in favor of McCarthy because he is a safe choice and likely guarantees at least a 3-4 win improvement next year or he is against it because as Chris Moore said on our podcast this week, it immediately becomes McCarthy’s show and there will be an inevitable tug of war in the media (where McCarthy is much, much more savvy than Todd Bowles) to assert blame if the team struggles and start minimizing Maccagnan’s overall influence.

If I had to predict today, McCarthy will ultimately be the hire. I don’t doubt he can get the Jets to 8-8 or 9-7 next year, I just doubt whether he can ever get them to a record better than that. It is somewhat similar to the rationale behind pursuing Kirk Cousins vs. a rookie quarterback. You know what Cousins gets you, a degree of competence, but there are serious questions if he can get you over the hump at this point.

2 – Kliff Kingsbury: I do think Kingsbury is a legitimate candidate and not just somebody the Jets want to pick the brain of for offensive ideas. A young, forward thinking offensive mind directly from the college game, Kingsbury looks the part of a Sean McVay and would be both an exciting and risky hire.

People should not get too hung up on his win and loss record at Texas Tech, which deals with recruiting limitations and opponents they are consistently overmatched against. However, it is fair to question whether somebody who was more good/intriguing than great in college could be competent in the NFL. You are naive and caught up in Kingsbury’s swag (of which there is plenty) if you don’t think this would be a big gamble.

It would be imperative for him to be paired with a strong, veteran Defensive Coordinator who is likely also the Assistant Head Coach. (Mike Nolan? Gregg Williams?) and you are banking on where Kingsbury is headed, as somebody who gets where the game is going in an offensive dominated league and can maximize Sam Darnold’s production in an innovative, spread attack.

Most would rather have Kingsbury as an Offensive Coordinator rather than a Head Coach but it is likely all or nothing.

3 – Adam Gase: A choice rightly despised by many Jets fans:

Gase had an overrated impact in Denver riding Peyton Manning’s coattails, was the Offensive Coordinator for the league’s 21st ranked offense in 2015, and then went a robust 23-25 over 3 years for the Miami Dolphins, while clashing with veteran players and losing the locker room multiple times. Ryan Tannehill made no tangible progress under him and his 23-25 is that much less impressive when you remember one of those wins came against Bryce Petty and one was in the Spencer Long Snap Extravaganza Game.

Miami has not had a particularly innovative or high achieving offense in recent years and the staff Gase has assembled isn’t exactly overflowing with future NFL Head Coaches. Why “league circles” and certain “media insiders” love Gase is beyond this writer but the Jets need to do much, much better than an in-division retread.

4 – Eric Bieniemy: The Offensive Coordinator for the league’s best offense is always going to be a popular Head Coach candidate and Bieniemy is no exception. The Jets have already interviewed him and he plans to interview with at least three other teams. Stories like this make you believe he has the right personality make-up for the job and the Andy Reid Coaching Tree has looked awfully nice lately. However, there are valid concerns about his limited NFL experience with play calling and if his ascendance is just about being in the right place at the right time with a loaded offensive team.

Bieniemy has a strong resume but brings the normal concerns about migrating a coordinator to a Head Coach role. He is going to get a job somewhere this offseason but he doesn’t seem to be a top tier candidate right now for the Jets.

5 – Kris Richard: Another Defensive Coordinator?!? Richard has done extremely impressive work in multiple stops and feels like somebody who is overdue for a chance to be a Head Coach. Jets fans are going to be rightly reticent about hiring from this side of the football but it is about finding the best Head Coach, not silo’ing your search to one side of the football. Richard, by all accounts, has the personality and resume to project well to the needed CEO skills that come with being a Head Coach. The Offensive Coordinator and Quarterbacks Coach hire he makes would be extremely critical but the team is likely to be wary of the immediate backlash to his defensive resume. Despite all that, he is a strong overall candidate and is going to get more consideration that most Jets fans want to accept.

6 – Jim Caldwell: This ain’t it. Caldwell is basically an older McCarthy with a less impressive resume. This is the type of hire that only happens if the Jets Plan A, Plan B and Plan C all fall through and they are stuck scrambling when the musical chairs stop with teams picking their next coach. Similar to Gase, this hiring should not be under consideration.

7 – Todd Monken: Unless I missed it, the Jets are the only team who has (smartly) requested an interview with him. Monken has done impressive work with Tampa Bay’s offense despite a revolving situation with two turnover prone quarterbacks, no running backs and a shaky offensive line. He also has successful Head Coach experience under his belt at the collegiate level, as he turned around Southern Mississippi over the course of a few years. It seems more likely that Monken will end up being an Offensive Coordinator somewhere than a Head Coach but this would be a better hire than most people mentioned in this article.

8 – Matt Rhule: A rising dark horse candidate who may interview with the Jets in the coming days. Rhule has turned around Temple and navigated a difficult Baylor situation at the college level. He also has experience in New York, as he was an Offensive Line coach on the Giants in 2012 and began his career coaching defense, so he has experience on both sides of the football. Similar to Kingsbury, this is a risk because going from a 7-6 Baylor team to the NFL is a big jump but the Jets are right to cast a wide net that includes program builders like Rhule. This is a bolder, higher floor hire than McCarthy.

9 – Anybody Else? It does not appear the Jets have interest in Dan Campbell, Chuck Pagano (Hooray!), Zac Taylor or Pete Carmichael as of now. Josh McDaniels is likely headed to Green Bay, if anywhere. Unless McCarthy goes to Cleveland and Kingsbury goes to Arizona in the coming days, the Jets may stand pat in sorting through the above list

10 – Players Recruiting: Is highly entertaining, particularly when it is Jamal Adams (congratulations on 2nd Team All-Pro, by the way). The reason players like Adams and Maye are intrigued by a name like Kingsbury is because they see the type of offense he has been involved in and are likely exhausted of watching their team run on 1st down, run on 2nd down, throw short of the sticks on 3rd down and then punt.

11 – Guess At Timeline? It feels like this hire will probably be made in the next 2 weeks at the absolute latest, whatever team hires first is likely going to set off a chain reaction of rapid fire decisions.

12 –  Guess At Likelihood Of Being Hired 

  1. McCarthy
  2. Richard
  3. Rhule
  4. Kingsbury
  5. Gase

Author: Joe Caporoso

Joe Caporoso is the Owner and EIC of Turn On The Jets. His writing has been featured in the New York Times, Huffington Post, MMQB and AdWeek. Caporoso played football his entire life, including four years at Muhlenberg as a wide receiver, where he was arguably the slowest receiver to ever start in school history. He is the VP of Social Media at Whistle Sports