This Saturday, I took on a fun thought exercise: what would an ideal Jets coaching staff would look like?
I ask readers to keep a few things in mind. It is plausible that a new coach might keep one or two high-achieving coaches (G. Williams, B. Boyer, Shawn Jefferson, etc) but is far more likely to gut the operation and start from scratch.
Secondly, there are multiple offensive and defensive position coaches who could step into a hypothetical coordinator vacancy if either the offensive or defensive coordinators are hired by another team.
A note: I understand you likely have your own opinions about the best coordinator candidates/positions coaches. I ask that you focus less on my final choice for each position and more on the candidates I named as finalists for each position.
For example, Bieniemy, Williams, & Toub are different people, but their coaching prototype is very much the same: they are all great leaders.
In critiquing this article, I humbly submit that–unless you reject my premise that my groupings of finalists embody the same coaching prototype–splitting hairs on which one I ultimately selected is an unproductive exercise.Without further ado, let’s take a look at my dream 2021 coaching staff!
HC: ERIC BIENIEMY (OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS)
If the Adam Gase experienced proved anything, it is that a head coach is more than just an offensive or defensive scheme. The single most important factor in hiring a head coach is leadership: _can he communicate, can he delegate, is he organized?_ Eric Bieniemy has been exalted as a leader by the best offensive playcaller in the NFL (Andy Reid), the best quarterback in the NFL (Patrick Mahomes), one of the best GMs in the NFL (Brett Veach) and even the Chiefs’ owners. Respected leadership is what the Jets need and Bieniemy brings that in spades.
Runners Up: Gregg Williams, Jets Defensive Coordinator; Dave Toub, Chiefs Special Teams Coach.OC: Tony Elliot (Offensive Coordinator, Clemson)
A former walk on who became a team captain at Clemson, Elliot has been at the helm of some of the best offenses in college football history. The Clemson offense is similar to the Chiefs’ offense in that it marries the RPO and screen-heavy tendencies of college football with the deep passing concepts from the shotgun. Hiring Elliot would truly be a step in the direction of “where the game is going.”
Runners Up: Graham Harrell; USC Offensive Coordinator; Todd Monken, Georgia Offensive Coordinator; Mike McDanel, 49ers Run Game Coordinator.
QBs: Josh McCown (Current NFL Free Agent)
McCown was a de facto QB coach when he was with the Jets in 2018. He has a great rapport with Sam and can provide plenty of useful tips and trick from his extensive NFL experience.
Runners Up: Kodi Burns, Auburn Co-Offensive Coordinator & WRs coach; Bob Surace, Princeton Head coach.
RBs: Demarco Murray (Current RBs Coach, Oklahoma)
An NFL veteran who is entering his first year as RBs coach at Oklahoma, Murray will garner respect from NFL players based on his experience. His time under Lincoln Riley will provide him exposure to an innovative and fast-paced coaching staff.
Runners Up: Joe DuPaix, Navy Slot Backs (RBs) coach; Ja’Juan Seider, Penn State Run Game Coordinator/RBs coach.
WRs: Brian Hartline (Current Wide Receivers Coach, Ohio State)
A hands-on coach who wears cleats to practice in order to demonstrate proper route-running, is a rising star in the college coaching ecosystem. Hartline is one of the top high school recruiters in the country and would likely only take an NFL positional job if given the assurance that he would be named offensive coordinator in the event of Elliot’s departure.
Runners Up: Doug Baldwin, retired Seahawks Wide Receiver; Scotty Walden, Southern Mississippi Co-Offensive Coordinator and Wide Receivers coach.
TEs: Sean Ryan (Current QB Coach, Detroit Lions)
Bieniemy should create an offensive coaching staff that ensures as much stability as possible in the event Elliot is offered a head coaching job. The tight ends coach is emerging as a stepping stone to offensive coordinator as it is situated at the nexus of the passing and running game. Sean McVay (HC, Rams) and Arthur Smith (OC, Titans) are both former tight ends coaches, despite never having played the position themselves.
Ryan mentored Deshaun Watson’s and was rumored to be Matt Rhule’s preferred offensive coordinator. Ryan would provide the Jets with a future offensive coordinator if Elliot (and Hartline) are poached by other teams.
Runners Up: Levar Woods, Iowa Special Teams Coordinator; Mike Sanford Jr., Minnesota Offensive Coordinator/QBs coach.
OL: Brendan Nugent (Assistant Offensive Line/Run Game, New Orleans Saints)
Offensive line coach is arguably the most important position coach on a football team due to the importance of proper technique. Nugent is a 15 year coaching veteran who has worked closely with Dan Roushar, one of the League’s best offensive line coaches, for three seasons.
Runners Up: Dwayne Ledford, Louisville Offensive Coordinator/OL coach; Tim Polasek, Iowa Offensive Line coach.
DC: Jim Leonhard (Current Defensive Coordinator, Wisconsin)
As Wisconsin’s defensive coordinator, Leonard has led the Badgers’ defense to consistent top finishes in the NCAA total defense. A former Jet and NFL veteran, Leonard will have no trouble relating to professional players and garnering respect in the locker room.
Runners Up: Corey Raymond, LSU DBs Coach; Chris Hewitt, Ravens DBs Coach.
Defensive Line: Charlie Partridge (Current Assistant Head Coach & Defensive Line Coach, Pittsburgh)
Partridge is currently at the helm of Pitt’s defensive line corps, which led the NCAA in sacks last season (3.92 per game). He previously served as the head coach of Florida Atlantic University after succcessful stints at Arkansas as defensive line coach and Wisconsin as defensive coordinator. In the event that Leonard accepts a head coach position with another NFL team, Partridge can step in to the role and provide continuity for the Jets.
Runners Up: Ikaika Malloe, Washington Co-Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Line coach; David Reeves, UAB Defensive Coordinator.
LBs: Nick Rallis (Defensive Quality Control/Assistant Linebackers Coach, Minnesota Vikings)
A former Minnesota linebacker, Rallis worked as a graduate assistant at Wake Forest in 2017 before becoming the Vikings’ defensive quality control coach and assistant linebackers coach. In the past two season, the Vikings have had one of the best linebacker corps in the NFL. Rallis has had two years to learn under one of the best defensive coaches in the NFL, Mike Zimmer.
Runners Up: Chris Simpson, Buffalo Co-Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers coach;
Brent Pry, Penn State Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers coach.
DBs: Darrelle Revis (Former Jets Cornerback)
When one of the best players to ever play their position is an alumnus of your sports team, you offer him a coaching job. If Revis is interested in coaching, he would likely have a short runway to a defensive coordinator job.
Runners Up: Sharrieff Shah, Utah Special Teams coordinator/Cornerbacks coach; Terrence Brown, Washington Assistant Defensive Backs Coach.
Special Teams Coach: Andy Hill, Kansas City Chiefs Assistant Special Teams coach.
One would assume that Dave Toub (Chiefs Special Teams Coordinator) would only leave Kansas City if given a head coaching job. As a result, the Jets should take the next best thing: his protege, Andy Hill. Hill served as the special teams coordiantor for Missouri, after spending 21 season working with receivers and quarterbacks.
Runners Up: Joe Lorig, Penn State Special Teams Coach/Outside Linebackers coach; Matt Daniels, Cowboys Assistant Special Teams Coach.