The New York Jets’ ownership this Sunday night, following the Jets 28-14 loss to the Patriots, finally did something right. They fired head coach Adam Gase after an abysmal 9-23 record in two years leading the Jets. The biggest decision of the tenure of GM Joe Douglas now looms large and that is finding a head coach that can change the culture of the Jets and to make the Jets a more competitive team moving forward. Here is a list I compiled of some of the candidates that the Jets should pursue (and not pursue). Some of these candidates the Jets have already received permission to speak to as part of their head coaching search.
Avoid These Potential Candidates
These are names that the Jets should avoid hiring, let alone even interviewing. These candidates would not be popular choices among a fanbase that needs a better option at head coach after years of futility and lack of emotion on the Jets sidelines from Todd Bowles and Adam Gase.
Marvin Lewis (former Bengals head coach) – This would be filed under the category of a retread head coach who has prior head coaching in the NFL. Lewis is not an exciting pick, or one that would make any sense. Sure he had a long tenure coaching the Bengals, but made the playoffs many times when coaching the Bengals and never won a playoff game in the over a decade of coaching the Bengals. If it were for a coordinator position, that would make more sense, but not as the next head coach for the Jets.
Jim Caldwell (former Colts and Lions head coach) – The Jets interviewed Caldwell two years ago before deciding on hiring Gase. This choice would not make much sense. Caldwell is in his mid-sixties so he would not be a long-term head coaching solution for the Jets. Plus he is a lot like a Todd Bowles head coach: no emotion or energy on the sidelines during the game and hiring him would not excite the Jets fanbase.
Brian Schottenheimer (OC of the Seattle Seahawks) – Schottenheimer has ties to the Jets, serving as the OC during the early part of Rex Ryan’s tenure as head coach. Schottenheimer has a lot of experience as an OC at the college and pro levels, but this would not make sense for the Jets and would not be a popular choice among the fanbase.
Brian Daboll (OC of the Buffalo Bills) – This choice could possibly work out, especially taking a coach from a top division rival, but I still think Daboll is untested and needs a few more years as a coordinator before getting hired as a head coach. For some reason, I see nothing exciting about this candidate and do not know if he is the best person out there to help take the Jets to the next level.
Eric Bieniemy (OC of the Kansas City Chiefs) – Bieniemy would make the most sense of the coordinators available for the Jets to hire, and he also has a lot of interest from the handful of teams looking for a NFL head coach. He helped develop Patrick Mahomes in Kansas City and has worked under one of the best minds in the NFL, Chiefs’ head coach Andy Reid. He remains untested having yet to be a head coach, but Bieniemy would make the most sense, especially if the Jets decide to take Fields or Morris with the second pick in the draft. Bieniemy would make the most sense to develop either of those picks into a NFL quarterback and the Jets should pursue Bieniemy and throw a lot of money at him.
Robert Saleh (DC of the San Francisco 49ers) – I do not want to hear that the Jets, who have a lot of offensive woes, should not hire a defensive coach. Saleh has a great enthusiasm, work ethic and is well respected by his players. He is the type of coach with the energy that the Jets needs. Plus he has made the Niners defensive explosive under his watch, which would be something that the Jets need help in, especially after losing Jamal Adams, via trade last offseason.
Don “Wink” Martindale (DC of the Baltimore Ravens) – This would be a safe choice, and one that could bring some swagger to the Jets based on his personality. The fact that Joe Douglas knows Martindale from their time together in Baltimore could help their working relationship if they were to work together on the Jets. It seems that the players would be disciplined with Martindale as their head coach and held accountable if they do not play at the level they should be playing at.
Candidates You May Not Like That I Would Interview
Urban Meyer (former coach of the Ohio State University) – Meyer has been a polarizing figure when it comes to coaches – either people like him or they don’t. However it appears that the Jacksonville Jaguars are looking to pursue Meyer as their next head coach. If I were the Jets, I would interview him and make a competitive offer to try to lure him to New York. He would be a good coach who would come with instant credibility to take on the challenging task of rebuilding the Jets.
Bill Cowher (former Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach and Current NFL on CBS Analyst) – Bill Cowher has been out of coaching for over a decade and is older, but he would be a great option for the Jets to explore. His former wide receiver, Hines Ward, is a current assistant on the Jets and I would like to see Ward be given the OC job if Cowher took the job, learn from his old coach, and eventually take the Jets head coaching job when Cowher decides to retire. Would be the type of hire the Jets last had when they hired Bill Parcells in 1997.
Jim Harbaugh (former San Francisco 49ers Head Coach, Current Head Coach of Michigan University) – It appears that the Johnson brothers like Jim Harbaugh as his name gets mentioned when the Jets have a head coaching opening. I do not care if he has been polarizing in the past as the Jets need a disciplinarian as a coach and Harbaugh fits that bill. There are rumors Harbaugh is not signing an extension that has been offered to him at Michigan, until he explores his head coaching options again in the NFL, in particular with the Jets. This would be a great hire for the Jets.
While more names will be floated out by Jets management and ownership over the next few weeks, one thing is for sure – they should not use the recommendation of Peyton Manning, like they did when Adam Gase was hired, to determine who their next head coach should be. The Jets need a dynamic leader and motivator to lead this team and they need to pick someone who will make the Jets a fun and competitive team to watch.