When the Jets fired floundering head coach Adam Gase one week ago, on question that was asked of general manager Joe Douglas seems to have answered itself in the days that have followed. Asked if the team would seek out a candidate with previous head coaching experience, Douglas said the search would consist of a wide array of candidates. Well, eight head coaching interviews later and the Jets seem to be heading down a familiar path in focusing on coordinators with no head coaching experience.
Outside of Marvis Lewis, formerly of the Cincinnati Bengals, the Jets have exclusively interview a bevy candidates who have never run a team before. Outside of Gase, that has been a theme under current ownership dating all the way back to Al Groh. Who are the current candidates? Here’s a quick recap.
Eric Bieniemy, Chiefs OC: Sometimes life just isn’t fair, and for Bieniemy, that time might be now. Offensive coordinator by title, Bieniemy could be hurt by the fact that he works for one of the best offensive head coaches in NFL history in Andy Reid. Suitors have little reason to believe Reid isn’t the man calling the plays when games are on the line and that can’t be good for Bieniemy. Add to that the fact that he’s working with the most talented trio of weapons in the NFL in Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce and it further complicates things.
Marvis Lewis, ASU DC: Lewis is an interesting candidate. Jets fans seemed to collectively recoil when they heard the name as Lewis has an impressive list of post-season failures having never won a playoff game in almost two decades at the helm for the Bengals. However, Lewis did turn the Bengals in to a respectable team for much of that time after years of futility. Could some time away have helped Lewis grow and become a better head coach? It wouldn’t be the first time that has happened, but it’s Impossible to say at this point. Inn Lewis, the Jets would be bringing in a culture changer with multiple division titles under his belt in a very competitive division. The biggest issue facing Lewis may be his age at 62-years-old.
Robert Saleh, SF DC: Saleh has spent the past four years as the defensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers, leading them to finishes of 25th, 28th, 8th and 17th on defense in that time frame. An animated figure on the sidelines who many view as a player’s coach, Saleh has spent with the Texans, Seahawks and Jaguars before landing with the 49ers.
Joe Brady, Panthers OC: Brady has an impressive resume as a play caller on offense and was a name that was thrown around early on as a candidate the Jets should bring in for a look. After spending some time working for the highly respected Sean Payton in New Orleans, Brady branched off on his own to call the plays for LSU where the Tigers put up astronomical offensive numbers with Joe Burrow under center. From there, Brady moved on to join Matt Rhule in Carolina where the Panthers ranked 18th on offense after losing their best weapon in Christian McCaffrey for all but three games this season.
Matt Eberflus, Colts DC: Somewhat of a surprise candidate early on, Eberflus has been coaching since way back in 1992 when he broke in with Toledo for nine seasons before spending eight seasons at Missouri. From there it was on to the NFL where he has worked with the Browns, Cowboys and Colts. Eberflus has led the Colts’ defense to a remarkable turnaround. In the three seasons prior to his arrival, the Colts D ranked 26th, 30th and 30th. In three years under Eberflus, they’ve checked in at 11th, 16th and 8th.
Brian Daboll, Bills OC: If the Jets are going to go the inexperienced route, Daboll should be the choice among the current listed candidates. He comes from within the division and is the unquestioned play caller on offense for a Buffalo team that has led Josh Allen to one of the most improbable turnarounds you’ll ever see. Allen has gone from a wild, erratic gunslinger to one of the NFL’s top passers. A coach (or offensive coordinator) who has shown the ability to develop a young QB should be a must.
Brandon Staley, Rams DC: No candidate has done more to raise their stock in the first round of the playoffs than Staley. Facing one of the NFL’s top offenses on the road in the Seattle Seahawks, Staley lost all-universe defensive lineman Aaron Donald for a huge chunk of the contest and his unit still clamped down on Russ Wilson and company. That performance on its own should raise a few eyebrows for the early sceptics.
Arthur Smith, Titans OC: Smith has been the man calling the plays for the Titans where he has overseen a career resurgence from Ryan Tannehill who was far less productive under Adam Gase. As is the case with Bieniemy, some of his success may be dismissed by those who see a team who seems to “have it easy” as Tennessee feeds monster running back Derrick Henry time and again.
Scheduled to be Interviewed
Aaron Glenn, Saints DB Coach: Fans who remember Glenn as an undersized player who showed up big on Sunday’s as a lockdown corner will feel some nostalgia in seeing his name on the list, but his lack of experience makes him a long shot. After working in personnel with the Jets for two seasons, Glenn moved on and has since coached for the Browns as an assistant defensive backs coach before moving on to New Orleans where he has been the defensive backs coach for Sean Payton’s secondary for four seasons. It would be a popular hire, but one that would spark little more than cautions optimism. Having played for Bill Parcells and worked for Payton, Glenn has had a front row seat to some of the best who have ever done it.
Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern HC: Fitzgerald hasn’t been confirmed for an interview but there have been rumblings of interest from the Jets side. He would be only the second candidate with head coaching experience and has built a strong program at Northwestern.
Doug Pederson, Eagles HC: This one seems like a long shot, but also has a very “Jetsy” feel to it. As things have unraveled for Doug Pederson in Philadelphia with the Eagles, there are rumors of interest from the Jets based on Joe Douglas and his history with the Eagles. Pederson is a Super Bowl winning head coach whose team may have suffered more significant injuries than any other club in 2020, so it might be a bit premature to write him off.
Wink Martindae, Ravens DC: There was presumed interest from the media in regards to Martindale based on having spent three seasons in Baltimore with Joe Douglas but no interview requests have been confirmed as of yet.