With the Jets conducting their first simultaneous General Manger and Head Coach search since 2006, it seems that the search is being covered in two different fashions. The first is the reporting of the actual candidates that they have interviewed or are looking to interview. The second way that the search is being covered is through opinion pieces masked as reporting about whom they are most likely to hire and why they shouldn’t hire that candidate. If you have been paying close attention to coaching search you more than likely can tell where I am going with this. I’m mainly speaking about the attacks that Manish Mehta has been making about former Bills HC Doug Marrone’s credentials and credibility as a candidate. Mehta uses his anonymous “sources” to try and mask these articles as true sports journalism pieces as opposed to the blatant opinion based editorials that they actually are.
Here at Jets PFS we don’t try and hide from the fact that we are writing about the Jets because we are fans of the team. We are all interested in the Jets hiring the best candidate possible for both open positions, and we aren’t going to pretend that we don’t have opinions about who we believe the best candidates are. For that reason, we decided to put together a compilation of who our writers believe Woody Johnson should hire to replace John Idzik and Rex Ryan. I’ll start with our three Team Writers before giving my opinion at the end.
George Whalen Jets Team Writer @gwhales4
Ever since those two back to back AFC title games, the New York Jets have been searching for themselves. The Rex Ryan era, although fun and entertaining, needed to come to an end. The same voice that inspired people to play their hardest, seemed to have have fallen on deaf ears these past two seasons. There was a need for change at the helm, and I for one am optimistic about a quick turn around. Below I have identified my top choice for each open position.
This is a little bit of an under the radar hire. He is not the sexy name Jet fans are looking for, but is one hell of an evaluator. Casserly and Wolf have done a great job of identifying strong personnel men, and I feel Maccagnan should be atop that list. Maccagnan currently is the Director of College Scouting for the Houston Texans, he has held that position since 2011, and has absolutely crushed the draft. First off Mccagnan was the man who was in charge of college scouting when the Texans drafted Watt. This in itself is enough to grab anyone’s attention, but he is responsible for much more than JJ Watt. Some of the Texans notable selections with Mccagnan at the helm of college scouting include: De’Andre Hopkins (2013), Whitney Mercilus (2012), Brooks Reed (2011), D.J. Swearinger (2013), Jadaveon Clowney (2014), Xavier Su’a filo (2014), C.J. Fiedorowicz (2014), Louis Nix (2014), Alfred Blue (2014). Those are all players who have made contributions to an up and coming Texans team. The most recent class is probably his best class, and that is without Clowney playing much. I feel as though the Jets need a college scouting guy at the helm, as the draft needs to be the lifeline of the team.
Jet fans are familiar with this name. The Morristown product has been in charge of one of the best defenses in recent memory. I personally believe that the Seahawks defense could be the best in the league with a toddler as coach, but that doesn’t mean hes a bad coach. First off, Quinn knows what a winning team looks like. He gets it, he has seen the fine line of discipline and unruliness. He knows that today’s NFL players aren’t robots, and knows how to put players in positions to succeed. Quinn is tough, demands excellence, and most importantly won’t shun personalities. What I like most about Quinn though is the discipline in which his players play with. Seattle’s defense doesn’t take penalties. They can rush the passer with 4 men, they don’t make stupid unsportsmanlike or unnecessary hits. The Seahawks defense takes the attitude and calmness from its coordinator. While Quinn fits the same mold as Rex, a defensive minded coach who is respected amongst his peers, he is not Rex. Rex’s defenses have never been discipline, in fact I would argue that Rex doesn’t know what discipline is.
Daniel Chavkin Jets Team Writer @dchav96
This year doesn’t seem like it’s the best year for an NFL team to be searching for a head coach or a general manager. The pool of candidates is shallow, with no sure things and not much experience to choose from. All of the candidates have their share of pros and cons, making this decision equally tough as it is important for the Jets.
For the general manager job, there are many candidates whom I’ve never of before, and aren’t surefire candidates. However, the one man who is without a doubt the best candidate available is Ravens assistant general manager Eric DeCosta. According to league insiders, he should have been a general manager a few years ago. Yet, DeCosta has been named the future general manager of the Ravens when Ozzie Newsome retires, and he is content on waiting until then.
Therefore, the man I would hire to be the next Jets general manager would be Mike Maccagnan of the Houston Texans. Granted, I know very little about him, but from what I can tell, he has helped build a very underrated Texans roster. Maccagnan comes from the personnel side of football, an area where John Idzik is unfamiliar, and he is highly regarded by Jets consultant Charley Casserly. I would have to trust Casserly on this one, and go with Maccagnan, a man he knows well.
The two frontrunners to be head coach of the Jets are Doug Marrone and Dan Quinn. Both of these men are from the metropolitan area, have worked for the Jets in the past, and are vastly different from their predecessor Rex Ryan. The two main differences between the two are that Marrone is experienced and offensive minded, and Quinn is inexperienced and defensive minded. If it were just between these two, I would go with Marrone, because the Jets desperately need a proven offensive mind and could really benefit from Marrone’s previous experience.
However, there are more candidates out there than the ones that the Jets have interviewed. If it were up to me, I would hire Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson as head coach. Jackson is a former head coach of the Raiders, leading them to an 8-8 record in 2011. He has a creative offensive mind, and has been influential in the growth of Andy Dalton over the past two years. Additionally, Jackson brings passion and fire with him every day to work, as displayed on Hard Knocks a few years ago. The Jets don’t plan to interview Jackson, at least not yet, but they should. He would be a great fit.
Dan Salem Jets Team Writer @thedansalem
I’d love to see the Jets hire a GM first, getting him (or her) involved in the head coaching hire. But that seems unrealistic at this point, with both searches taking place concurrently.
On the head coaching front the Jets need to hire an offensive minded candidate. The ‘lack of talent’ on offense was a fallacy. The talent was never complimented properly and lacked leadership. The New York Jets should hire Josh McDaniels as their new head coach. As offensive coordinator of the Patriots, Josh has coached the best quarterback in the league, under the tutelage of the best coach.
Stealing McDaniels from their bitter rival would be double dipping for New York. They get a man hungry to prove himself as a head coach once again, while handicapping their division rival in the process.
As for a General Manager, the Jets must go with a personnel guy this time around. Matt Russell, director of player personnel for the Denver Broncos, is the best fit in New York. He has a proven track record of talent evaluation and a simple look at Denver’s roster speaks volumes. As a first time GM he would truly reshape the Jets.
Paul Malamood Jets Lead Writer @therealmoody82
I’ll start with the General Manager opening because as Woody Johnson said in his press conference on Black Monday, in an ideal situation they would be able to hire a GM before hiring a head coach. Although before I move on to giving my opinion I must first tell the faction of Jets fans who think it will be the end of the world if a coach is hired first to relax, because the world won’t end. As long as the interviews are being conducted properly, the GM’s will be giving Woody a list of coaches that they would like to work with, and with the assistance of Wolf and Casserly, I believe it is safe to assume that Woody is going about these interviews the right way.
With that out of the way I can move on to saying that I believe that Trent Kirchner who is the director of pro personnel for the Seahawks is who I believe that the Jets should hire to replace Idzik. I know a lot of Jets fans get very worried at the thought of hiring another Seahawk Executive to be our GM after the failure of the Idzik experience. That worry however is very unwarranted. While Idzik failed at bringing in an adequate amount of talent, he did do very well with the part of the job that was his specialty in Seattle. There’s no need for me to remind fans of the cap hell that he inherited, and the now cap heaven that he is passing down to his eventual successor. I bring this up because its important for fans to understand that Seattle is a very well run organization from top to bottom, and that the people working in the front office are very good at their jobs.
While Idzik’s resume was far from heavy in personnel experience, Kirchner’s is the opposite. As I stated above Kirchner is the director of pro personnel with the Seahawks, a position he has held for the last two years. Prior to his promotion two years ago, he served as the assistant pro personnel director starting in 2010, the same year that John Schneider took the GM job in Seattle. I’m aware that many fans don’t know what a pro personnel director (PPD) actually does, so I’ll fill you in briefly. It is a PPD’s responsibility to be aware of every player in the league that could possibly become available in any capacity, because they are responsible for filling in the bottom half of the roster to add depth, and ensure that when players get injured there are adequately skilled players to step up and play.
The Jets lack of depth is one of their biggest issues, so Kirchner would certainly be able to help fill out the back end of the roster. The Seahawks on the other hand are one of the deepest teams in the NFL. Before Kirchner joined the Seahawks in 2010 he was a scout with the Panthers from 2002-2009. Woody Johnson said in his Black Friday presser that the new GM will likely have a personnel background, and that’s exactly what he would be getting in Kirchner. Jets fans want their new GM to be the Anti-Idzik, and that’s exactly what he is. In Kirchner the Jets would be getting one of the top talent evaluators responsible for putting together the NFL’s most talented team.
As for the head coaching vacancy, there is a lot more to be considered than the GM position. Woody, Casserly, Wolf, and ideally the new GM will not only have to decide who the best candidate is, but they also have to take into consideration whether they want a coach with an offensive or a defensive background. Many Jets fans believe that they need to go with an offensive coach because of the teams long running issues on that side of the ball. In this case the choices would be either ex- Bills HC Doug Marrone or current Chargers offensive coordinator Frank Reich. Both candidates have received glowing recommendations from past Jets greats. Both Kevin Mawae and Curtis Martin have come out and said that they think Marrone, who was the Jets O-line coach in the early 2000’s would do a tremendous job. On the other hand Boomer Esiason who was Reich’s old college roommate has said that he believes Reich is going to blow the Jets away in his interview. I believe that both would do a good job. However, if the Jets do decide to go the offensive route I think that Reich is the right choice. He is responsible for resurrecting the career of Philip Rivers during his time with the Chargers. Before that he served time as both a quarterbacks coach and receivers coach with Peyton Manning’s Colts, as well as spending a year as the Cardinals receivers coach in 2012.
I don’t however agree with the thought process that the Jets have to go with an offensive coach. Fans are weary of another defensive minded head coach because of the failures of the offense under Rex Ryan, but that means they are assuming that every defensive minded coach operates the way that Rex did (and you know what people say about making assumptions). Some of the best and most successful coaches in the NFL are defensive coaches, like Bill Belichick and Mike Tomlin for instance. I believe it is important to remember that while the Jets offense is the team’s weakness, that the defense is also its strength. The Seahawks have shown that you can still win Super Bowl’s because of great defense, and in my mind it is foolish to turn away from a defensive coach that might be best suited to keep the defense playing at the level that we have become accustomed to during the Rex Era. In all likeliness the Jets hypothetical next defensive minded HC will pay a lot more attention to the offense than Ryan did.
In my mind the overall two best candidates are defensive minded coaches in the Seahawks Dan Quinn and the Cardinals Todd Bowles. As the defensive coordinator for the Seahawks Quinn’s resume speaks for itself. If Quinn is the man brought into replace Rex I think he would do a tremendous job of keeping the defense playing at its current level and would do a good job of managing the offense as well. However I believe that Bowles is the right man for the Job.
The Cardinals defense has been every bit as good as the Seahawks this year. In fact with the absurd injury bug that bit Arizona’s quarterbacks this season, Bowles defense is more responsible for his team’s success in 2014 than Quinn’s. Even more impressive is that Bowles defense remained an elite unit despite having to deal with an extraordinary number of injures. On top of his success as a defensive coordinator, Bowles also has experience as a head coach. In 2011 he served as interim HC for the Dolphins after Tony Sparano was fired with three games left in the season. In those three games the Dolphins went 2-1, first beating the Bills, then losing a 3-point game to the eventual AFC Champion Patriots, and finally beating the Jets in the game that forced them to miss the playoffs for the first time under Rex Ryan. It’s also rumored that a lot of people in the Dolphins are still salty that Bowles didn’t get hired for the full time job that offseason.
The Jets can’t go wrong with either Quinn or Bowles, but I believe that Bowles is the best man for the Job.