By Glenn Naughton
From the very beginning, Woody Johnson and the Jets got it right this time around. A head coaching search that began before the season ended was one that led them through a list of what many considered to be the top candidates available. Johnson took the initiative and sought the advice of two respected football men in Charley Casserly and Ron Wolf, both Super Bowl winning general managers in their own right.
Atop the Jets list were a pair of defensive coordinators who also happened to be New Jersey natives. Dan Quinn of the Seattle Seahawks and Todd Bowles in Arizona with the Cardinals. Both earned high praise from current players and insiders familiar with their work, and both are said to be ready to make the leap and run their own team from top to bottom.
Quinn was the Jets top choice with Bowles being a close second in the early running. Both candidates were interviewed, and the Jets appeared to be willing to wait out the Seahawks’ post-season run so they could make an official offer to Quinn. However, the ouster of John Fox in Denver had an immediate impact on the coaching landscape. Even with Peyton Manning’s future being undecided, many view that job as the most desirable. To take over a team that will possibly be led by a Hall of Fame quarterback along with one of the top defense’s in the league would be tough to contend with. Most teams looking for a head coach are facing a rebuild, while the Broncos are just one year removed from a Super Bowl appearance. With this being the case, once Fox was out of work, Woody Johnson and the Jets went to work.
Bowles was scheduled to meet with the Atlanta Falcons today while the Jets had Panthers’ defensive coordinator Sean McDermott ready to sit down and interview for their vacancy. At mid-day however, it was learned that the Jets, who had already met with Bowles on January 7th, asked him to come in for a second interview before heading to Atlanta. Cutting off another potential suitor was the first sign that the Jets were serious. Bowles agreed to come in, and as day turned to night, there were no reports of Bowles departing the facility. The writing was on the wall when the Jets cancelled their interview with McDermott. A short time later, we learned that Johnson, Bowles, and new General Manager Mike Maccagnan were heading out to dinner together. The Jets had their guy, and unlike they’ve done so many times in the past, they weren’t going to let him leave town without a deal. At just after 7pm, Bowles sent a message to ESPN’s Josina Anderson:
Josina AndersonVerified account
@JosinaAnderson 11 hours ago
I just got a text from Todd Bowles, “Im taking the Jets job.”
Given the fact that Quinn was such a heavy favorite to land the deal, one has to wonder if the Jets knew something about his intentions that wasn’t public knowledge. Quinn of course is represented by former Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum. If his camp was unwilling commit to the Jets off the record, then the Jets made the right move. Had they waited on Quinn, they risked losing Bowles to the Falcons, and would have been left holding the bag if Quinn bolted for Denver. All speculation of course, but Johnson’s past is littered with questionable hires and a fairly laid-back approach, but not this time. The owner sat in on every interview that was conducted. Each interview lasted a minimum of three hours. Johnson got feedback from Casserly and Wolf, decided which candidates he was comfortable with, and did what had to be done to get a deal before losing out and having to settle for the best of what was left.
Nobody knows how this will play out for the Jets moving forward, but these were some bold moves on the part of an owner who is often criticized for not being bold enough. Kudos to Woody, he had to make a splash after a 4-12 season, and he stepped up and got it done.
Training camp can’t get here soon enough.