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Jets' offense still uncoordinated

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By Randy Lange
Bergen Record

Throw a new name into the chemicals containing the Jets’ slowly developing offensive coordinator picture: Steve Fairchild.

Fairchild, who NFL sources said was scheduled to visit new head coach Eric Mangini at the Jets’ training complex Tuesday, was the St. Louis offensive coordinator for 2½ seasons under Mike Martz and the second half of this season for Joe Vitt.

Martz, also still looking for a home after being thrown clear of the Rams’ wreck, called St. Louis’ plays until he got sick during the season. But Fairchild, the onetime Colorado State quarterback, was instrumental in guiding the Rams to top-10 rankings in overall offense and top-five finishes in passing offense all three seasons.

Fairchild, 47, also is receiving interest from Bill Parcells in Dallas and new Buffalo coach Dick Jauron. And as the latest contender to interview with Mangini, he vaults to the head of the Jets’ list of candidates.

That list also contains Chris Palmer, who returned home and is waiting to be called back after his Friday interview, and former New Orleans offensive coordinator Mike Sheppard, who coached with Mangini on the Browns and Ravens in the mid-1990s.

Cleveland offensive line coach Jeff Davidson could have made this list unnecessary — a league source said he was offered the Jets’ coordinator post last week but chose to stay with the Browns when Romeo Crennel offered him the Browns’ assistant head coach position.

The reason the Jets’ OC job remains unfocused has to do with the man who still holds the title, Mike Heimerdinger. No movement was reported on Heimerdinger’s quest to leave the Jets and none may happen until perhaps Thursday, when Denver offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak is expected to be introduced as Houston’s new head coach.

Then the Broncos may approach the Jets about talking with Heimerdinger, and the Jets can tell the Broncos they can have him if they assume the two years and $2.3 million left on his contract.

Denver coach Mike Shanahan said he could turn inside or outside of the organization for Kubiak’s replacement.

“It could go either way,” Shanahan said. “I haven’t sat down and made that final decision either way. I want to talk to the coaches first and let a little time go by before a decision is made.”

Another addition to Mangini’s first staff as an NFL head coach could be Tony Wise. In fact, one source said Wise has been offered the Jets’ offensive line job. Whether that offer has or hasn’t been made, developments this week point to offensive line coach Doug Marrone being relieved of his duties in the coming days.

Wise has coached 16 years in the league, getting a Super Bowl ring under Jimmy Johnson on the Cowboys, then making stops with the Bears, Panthers and Dolphins. Last season he didn’t coach in the NFL.

THE NEXT FERG?: One of the attractions of Senior Bowl week in Mobile, Ala., has been the work of offensive tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson, the 6-foot-5½, 297-pound blind-side protector for Al Groh’s Virginia Cavaliers.

Jets general manager Terry Bradway certainly has noticed — he was seen talking with Ferguson, the Freeport, N.Y., native, on the practice field.

“I’ve spoken to several teams here and I’ve talked a lot to the Jets,” said Ferguson, expected to be there when the Jets are on the clock with the fourth pick of the draft. “I’d be happy to go to any team, but I’d love to go home.”

The field

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The candidates and odds to become the Jets’ offensive coordinator under new head coach Eric Mangini:

Steve Fairchild: 3-1

May have talked Tuesday with Mangini; coordinated Rams’ passing game under Mike Martz.

Chris Palmer: 5-1

Has OC, head coach experience, but has yet to get a callback after his Friday interview.

Mike Sheppard: 8-1

New Orleans’ former OC worked with Mangini in ’95-96 but hasn’t come in to talk recently.

Mike Heimerdinger: 12-1

Looks as if Mangini will let Dinger go to Denver — if the deal is right for the Jets.

Jeff Davidson: scratched

Took himself out of the running after Browns promoted him to assistant head coach.

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