Woody Makes Bowles Decision

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 11h11 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.

Woody’s Fifth Coaching Search is Already his Best

By Glenn Naughton

It’s the worst kept secret in the NFL.  The New York Jets are in search of a brand new Head Coach and Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn is sitting firmly atop their wish list. Countless reports have linked Quinn, a New Jersey native, to the Jets vacancy.  Team owner Woody Johnson is so set on hiring Quinn that he was reportedly ready to fly out to Seattle in the event of a Seahawks loss to the Carolina Panthers this past weekend.  As it turns out,  Johnson had to cool his jets as Seattle avoided the upset at home and will head to the NFC Championship game to face the Green Bay Packers.  This of course means Gang Green will continue waiting for Seattle’s season to come to a close, at which point they can officially make Quinn an offer.

If Quinn doesn’t work out, or if the Jets are concerned about the high level of interest from other organizations for his services, they could look to hire another hot candidate, Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles who they’re bringing in for a second interview as they jockey for position with the Atlanta Falcons.

Johnson is one week away from the fifteen year anniversary of his purchasing Jets for $635 million in 2000.  This will be his fifth attempt at finding a head coach who can deliver a championship to long-suffering Jets fans, some of whom just had a special anniversary of their own.  It was 46 years ago this week, January 12th, 1969 to be exact, that a Jets head coach delivered the Lombardi Trophy to the Jets faithful.  Will head coach number five deliver championship number two?  While that remains to be seen, this hunt for a head coach has one notable difference from Johnson’s prior attempts, and it’s one that Jets fans should be happy about.

For the first time during his tenure, it appears that Johnson and the Jets will be pursuing a head coach that is highly thought of and/or being pursued by other teams.  In no way does this guarantee success, but Jets fans should take some solace in the fact that the Jets’  next head coach isn’t likely to be another “head scratcher”.

When Johnson purchased the Jets in 2000, the team was being guided by Hall of Fame Head Coach Bill Parcells.  With Parcells’ future role with the organization unclear, Johnson had a fallback option with then-defensive coordinator Bill Belichick under contract to succeed Parcells in the event of his departure.  When Parcells did step aside, Belichick did take over, for one day.

Belichick’s unexpected and rapid exit left the Jets in a state of flux.  Parcells, who had moved from the sideline to the front-office vowed to fix the problem.  His solution was the promotion of linebackers coach Al Groh to the Head Coach position.  Parcells and Groh had worked together since the late 80’s with the Giants and later with the Patriots, but Groh was never known to be a candidate elsewhere.  His only head coaching experience was a stint at Wake Forest from 1981-1986, but Parcells wanted continuity within the organization and convinced Johnson to elevate Groh.  Eventually Groh would leave to coach at the University of Virginia, his alma mater, after just one season at the helm for the Jets.  Groh’s Jets posted a 9-7 record after a late-season collapse, and went  home without a playoff berth.

By the time Johnson was looking for Groh’s replacement, he would be doing so with a new General Manager.  Terry Bradway was  hired away from the front-office of the Kansas City Chiefs and would pair with Johnson in the coaching search.  Few big-name candidates were brought in, and in the end the Jets hired Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive-backs coach Herm Edwards.  For the second time in as many tries, Johnson deferred to his GM and hired a defense-oriented position coach with no NFL head coaching experience.  Many fans were stunned by the move, but were also swayed by Edwards’ enthusiasm.  He was a high-energy optimist who had worked with Bradway in Kansas City several years earlier.  He would spend a total of five seasons on the Jets sideline, and compiled a record of 39-41 (.488) with a 2-3 record in the post-season.

After years of coming up short, and too often at the hands of the New England Patriots, Johnson went poaching.  In search of head coach number three, the Jets looked north and hired 35 year-old Eric Mangini away from Bill Belichick’s Patriots.  What Mangini lacked in personality, he was said to  make up for in football acumen.  A detail-oriented disciplinarian who had just one year of experience as a defensive coordinator was thought to be a respected up and comer, but the Jets hoped he was ready now.  As it turned out, he wasn’t.  In three seasons Mangini finished with a 23-25 (.479) record and managed to make the post-season just once.  That appearance would be against  his old team as the Jets traveled to New England to take on the Patriots and were trounced 37-16.  In his final season with the Jets, Mangini was armed with Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre but even that wasn’t enough.  Another Jets late season collapse sent them packing early, and Mangini, Johnson’s third hire did the same.  Mangini still garners praise from some of his former players, as former Jet Pete Kendall did in an interview earlier this season with JetNation.com, but despite that, he compiled a 10-22 record with the Cleveland Browns after his departure from New York and has yet to land another head coaching job.

As was the case when the Jets replaced the high-energy Edwards with the monotone Mangini, Woody Johnson went polar-opposite once again, naming Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan his new head coach.  Woody did so despite Ryan being passed over for the same position by his own team who chose John Harbaugh over the boisterous Ryan.  The initial success Ryan experienced in New York had many thinking Johnson finally got his man.  Back-to-back trips to the AFC Championship game in years one and two, combined with more post-season wins than any coach in Jets history had Johnson and the Jets on cloud nine.  The euphoria however, eventually wore off.  Four consecutive seasons without a playoff berth and Ryan’s inability to grow as a head coach or field a competent offense led to his dismissal at the conclusion of this season and leaves the Jets where they are today.

Johnson is heavily engaged in a search for a new leader, but he’s doing so in a manner that may require a great deal of persuasion, and an even greater amount of money.  Woody Johnson, in a bidding war for a highly sought after head coach?  It would be a first for the owner, but should undoubtedly be welcomed by Jets fans.

What do you think about the Jets head coach search? Fans are sounding off in our New York Jets forum.

 

 

 

Another HC Interview: Sean McDermott

Although there has been no official announcement, several reports are indicating that Mike Maccagnan is the new general manager of the NY Jets. He isn’t wasting any time, as he is set to interview Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott for the vacant head coaching position.

This interview could be a matter of having a contingency plan in place, as Woody Johnson seems like he is waiting on Dan Quinn. Quinn is busy at the moment as the Seahawks prepare to play the Packers in the NFC Championship game.

Todd Bowles (Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator) is another candidate and he is coming back in for a second interview.

NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Monday that both the New York Jets and Atlanta Falcons are bringing in Bowles for a second interview, according to sources informed of the plans.

The Jets, meanwhile, provide the type of defensive personnel already on the roster that would lend nicely to Bowles’ creative blitz schemes

If the Jets decide that Bowles is their top choice, they are free to work out a deal with him right away.

The speculation about ex-Bills coach Doug Marrone has quieted down, and we are told the Jets are no longer seriously considering hiring Marrone. One other candidate with a background in offense took his name out of the running. Ex-Texans coach Gary Kubiak will be returning to the Ravens next season.

 

If Quinn is in, Circumstances Suggest an Uphill Battle

By Glenn Naughton

The New York Jets search for a head coach has now entered day twelve and rumors of Seattle Defensive Coordinator Dan Quinn being named Rex Ryan’s successor appear to be picking up steam.  As a guest on the Dan Patrick show yesterday, Fox NFL reporter Alex Marvez predicted the Jets will go with Quinn, and went so far as to say the coordinator has already started reaching out to fellow coaches in an effort assemble his staff.

Quinn has been a hot commodity since the end of the regular season as he’s been calling the plays over the past two years for the defending Super Bowl champion Seahawks.  With Seattle in the midst of a playoff run, the Jets will have to wait for the Seahawks’ season to officially end before making any offers if Quinn is in fact their choice.

The possibility of hiring the man responsible for a Seattle defensive unit that has managed to stop some of the top offenses in the NFL over the past two years has some Jets fans ecstatic. However, those who fear another rookie head coach might prefer a coach like Doug Marrone who opted out of  his contract with the Buffalo Bills soon after the season ended.   Retread vs. fresh blood is often a hotly debated topic when teams are engaged in a coaching search, and as it turns out, both points of view have some merit.

Over the past twenty years there has been no shortage of head coaches who have hoisted the Lombardi Trophy despite previous failures elsewhere.  Bill Belichick comes to mind immediately as a future Hall of Famer who managed just one winning season in his first six years.  Five of those were spent in Cleveland before his first full season in New England.  Over that span, Belichick compiled an overall record of 41-55 notching just one playoff victory with the Browns in 1994.

Other retreads such as Tom Coughlin of the Giants and Mike Shanahan of the Denver Broncos won two Super Bowls apiece after failed stints with Carolina and Oakland, respectively.  John Gruden of course was a “tuck rule” away from going to the Super Bowl as Head Coach of the Oakland Raiders before leaving for Tampa Bay the following season and capitalizing on the opportunity when his Buccaneers defeated his former team in Super Bowl XXXVII.

In no way does this imply a coach must have prior experience to win a Super Bowl, but the majority of those coaches who have won over the past twenty years have done so in their second stop.  While some new hires yielded immediate results, there was a common thread that won’t be present when the Jets make their decision.  Of the nine first time coaches to win a Super Bowl over the past twenty years, three of those (George Seifert, Barry Switzer and Mike Tomlin) took over franchises who had won a championship just a season or two prior to them coming on board, while four others were armed with some of the best quarterbacks in the game.

Mike Holmgren had a young Brett Favre when he beat the Patriots in January of 1997.  Sean Payton was with Drew Brees for his Super Bowl victory in 2010, and Mike McCarthy teamed with Aaron Rodgers to win a ring in 2011.  Two years later, John Harbaugh took home a championship with former first-rounder Joe Flacco.  While Flacco may not be on the same level statistically as the other quarterbacks in this group, his post-season play since 2010 has been incredibly underrated as he’s managed to throw 20 touchdowns against just 2 interceptions.  Championship foundations, and elite quarterback play…two things Dan Quinn will not be inheriting if he were to take the reins for Woody Johnson’s Jets.  The other two first timers to win championships over the past two were also in far from conventional circumstances.

Bill Cowher was still with his first and only team when he led the Steelers to a championship in 2006, but what made that so rare was how long it took Cowher to finally deliver.  Most NFL coaches don’t last as long as Cowher did without winning a championship, but it was in his fifteenth season when he eventually got it done.

The final coach on the list is Baltimore Ravens former coach Brian Billick.  Billick was brought in from Minnesota where he was viewed as an offensive genius when armed with weapons such as Randy Moss, Chris Carter, and Robert Smith.  The result was a Super Bowl victory in year two despite having one of the worst offenses in the NFL.  It was the defense Billick inherited that turned out to be the best of this generation and carried him to Super Bowl glory.

In New York, Dan Quinn wouldn’t be getting an elite quarterback, or a team fresh off of a super bowl win.  The defense he’ll be getting won’t be nearly as good as the one he’s leaving, and while some Jets fans might be willing to sign up for a championship in fifteen years, it’s unlikely he’ll be around that long without one.

While Woody Johnson has been kind to rookie coaches in the past, having hired only first-timers during his tenure, the league has been less than kind to those coming in to anything less than an ideal scenario.  If Quinn is the guy, he’ll need to be as tough and intense as the defenses he’s coached, because he definitely won’t have history on his side.

 

 

 

Will Jets’ Coples Fulfill Potential Under new Regime?

Few players on the current Jets roster should be more tuned in to Woody Johnson, Charley Casserly, Ron Wolf and Neil Glat’s coaching search than outside linebacker/defensive end/defensive tackle Quinton Coples.  The former first round pick out of the University of North Carolina has had a turbulent introduction to life in the NFL for a myriad of reasons and has yet to become the player the Jets hoped he would when they drafted him with the 16th overall selection in the 2012 draft.

As a rookie, Coples’ playing time was limited as he was utilized in multiple positions along the defensive line but started only two games.  His part-time role saw him compile 30 tackles and 5.5 sacks.  Fairly respectable production from a youngster with somewhat limited opportunities.  In season two Coples underwent a transition from the defensive line to outside linebacker.  Add an ankle injury early in training camp to the role change and what you had, was a player trying to learn the nuances of  a new position on the fly while hobbled with an injury for much of the early part of the season.  The result was a pedestrian 38 tackles and just 4.5 sacks, but expectations were raised as Coples managed at least one sack in four of the last five games to close out the season.  The late surge in production left room for optimism heading toward 2014.

Entering the 2014 season, Coples was healthy, at an ideal playing weight, had a year under his belt at OLB, and a full off-season to prepare.  Despite all of that, and his strong finish to 2013, the results weren’t much better than the previous season.  In 2014, he managed just 35 tackles and saw a slight bump in sacks with 6.5, a career best.  While Coples earned high praise coming out of college due to his size at 6′ 6”/280lbs and uncanny versatility, it could be argued that his ability to play multiple positions has stunted  his growth thus far.  At this point, any fans holding out hope for Coples to eventually “break out” won’t have any other way to explain his underwhelming and inconsistent play thus far.

With Seahawks Defensive Coordinator Dan Quinn and Buffalo Bills’ former Head Coach Doug Marrone rumored to be the current front-runners for the Jets’ coaching vacancy, Coples may have reason to be excited.  Both coaches come from teams that employed a 4-3 defense in 2014.  Another candidate, Arizona Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles used a 3-4 look this past season.  If either Quinn or Marrone get the nod and choose to use a 4-3, Coples may find himself once again playing with his hand in the dirt.  While he has been inconsistent since entering the league three years ago, many feel Coples has done his best work up front as a defensive lineman, and the numbers support that opinion.

For example, while filling in at DE for an injured Muhammad Wilkerson from weeks 13-15 this season, Coples was credited with 6 hits on the quarterback, compared to only five QB hits over the other 13 games in which he played OLB.  Clearly he would have more opportunities to rush the quarterback from the DE position as pass coverage would be a rarity, but not at a ratio that one would expect three games to exceed the results yielded over the remaining 13 contests.

Position changes are nothing new to Coples.  As a defensive lineman in college he was moved back and forth from defensive end to defensive tackle and excelled at both.  Playing DT as a Junior, Coples was All-ACC logging 59 tackles and 10 sacks.  Despite that success, he was moved back to DE for his final season and tallied 55 tackles to go along with 7.5 sacks.  Looking at his production in both college and the NFL, it’s fair to say that if Coples ever does “get it”, the best chance he’ll have is playing for a coach who puts an end to his days as a linebacker, and lets him get after the QB on a more regular basis.  With a 4-3 alignment creating the need for an additional lineman, that may be Coples’ best shot at finally realizing his full potential.

 

Kristian Dyer of Yahoo Sports & Metro NY Answers Your Questions

Kristian Dyer of Metro NY recently took the time to answer a few questions directly from JetNation.com members covering a range of topics.  From the current coaching search,  to former Head Coach Rex Ryan’s treatment by the Media and his overall job performance, while also addressing those who feel Ryan was set up to fail by departed GM John Idzik.

Don’t forget to listen to JetNation Radio tonight, January 6th at 8pm when hosts Brandon Dowling and Joe Blewett will have New York Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer of Yahoo Sports and Metro NY on the air to talk about the current state of the New York Jets.

What are your thoughts on Doug Marrone and Dan Quinn since they’re the big names at the moment?  Any concerns with Quinn since he’ll be another first-timer?

You have to like that the Jets are casting a wide-net here and this is the real advantage of having Ron Wolf and Charlie Casserly – two football minds – heading this search up. Not a search firm but some football minds.

Looking at both guys, there is a lot to like. Strong connections to the team and the area and both are good football minds. The concern about Marrone is that he hasn’t had tremendous success anywhere he has been as a head coach. You’d hope to see an ACC title at ‘Cuse or a playoff season in the NFL. That just doesn’t exist. His best finish was fourth place and a couple wins in the Pinstripe Bowl.

In two years with the Bills, there are some good things. He’s at a good age and he played in the league. Those are all positives. But he isn’t proven and he drafted E.J. Manuel, a quarterback taken higher than Geno Smith with a similar ceiling. Not a good indication of his ability to assess talent.

As for Quinn, he certainly fits the mold that would scream success. Like Rex Ryan, he has never been a head coach but he comes from a winning mentality and has been around the league. He’s a tough guy, hard nosed and strong-willed. This current Jets locker room needs that right now.

He can bring a little swagger as well. That’s needed in this locker room too.

The local ties also help. He’s from the area and has coached on this Jets team. That will resonate with the fan base, media and locker room. Quinn is my top choice.

What went down with Matt Simms?  For a team that was consistently getting terrible QB play, did you get the feeling Rex/Idzik or both didn’t like him?  If they weren’t going to play him in that situation, they never would.  Seemed silly to have him on the roster.

Right now, Simms is who he is. He’s a work in progress. Keep in mind that this kid didn’t play much at Tennessee and is still transitioning. Look at the past couple years as a true senior year in college. He has some ground to make up. He’s learning.

The good news is that he is improving. He is better at making reads and his pocket presence is improving. Some of the pieces are there.

But to say that he should have gotten the nod last season over Geno Smith or Michael Vick? Perhaps a bit premature.

With all that being said, the kid can throw it. He’s not on this team just because of his last name. I’d certainly kick the tires on him next year.

From your subjective vantage point, do you witness separate media “agendas” as it relate the team, coaches and administrative staff.

I can only speak personally on this and about myself. I can’t say how anyone else conducts their business.

I will say that the beat sometimes gets a bad rap by some fans. We all have different styles and ways of doing things. But I think by and large, many in the media around this team on a daily basis do care about getting news to the fans and providing insight into the team.

It is impossible to say who truly has an agenda. Very often, it is ‘Position Determines Perspective’ and a certain viewpoint can affect a future outlook.

An affinity for a certain head coach or a general manager can sometimes cloud things.

To wit, I liked the plan that the recently departed general manager had in place and I also liked his style and approach. It appealed to me personally. Perhaps I was willing to give him more leniency on things, even as the season crumbled by Week 7. I wanted to believe it would work. I think many Jets fans would agree with that false hope.

Is that an agenda? I don’t think so, but it shaped by view of the Jets. I was looking long-term. I thought in preseason that this was a 6-10 team with a horrible first half of the schedule. I didn’t expect the playoffs. I liked the idea of building through the draft and making a run in 2015.

I cut this last general manager an awful lot of slack.

That isn’t an agenda. If I failed to recognize by midseason the poor drafts, the swings and misses with regards to free agency, then I would have had an agenda. I had to adjust my viewpoint.

So keep in mind when reading a report or a column, it isn’t agenda-driven for the most part. I don’t think many on the beat are like that. But being around the team, you form certain opinions, many of which aren’t right or close to being right! But that can lead to a difference perspective, not necessarily an agenda.

Do you get the feeling that the NY media was too soft on Rex Ryan because of his affable personality?

There’s no doubt that Rex was a quote machine. He was charming, affable and entertaining. All the things I’m not.

There was a general sense that Rex was handed a pretty bad team and made the most of it. Keep in mind that the Rex of the last two years was not the same man from the podium as years before. The media understood this, I think, as we went in the locker room every day and saw a young, unproven roster lacking some major pieces.

And yet Rex kept them in games, kept them playing hard. It was his coaching, not his affability, that had the media pulling for him. He wasn’t the one to blame here.

Keep in mind that the media blasted him over his home video, his tattoo and many of his statements. It wasn’t all playing footsie with him.

Who do you believe was the teams most improved player in 2014?

Great question.

The argument could certainly be made for Quinton Coples, who was playing out of position and yet made some nice, timely plays. If he can play with his hand in the dirt next year, then watch out.

I’d also say Stephen Hill. Oh wait, my bad.

But I think Oday Aboushi came along well in his second year with the team, stepping in for Brian Winters. If those two can develop this offseason, it helps an aging part of the team get younger fast.

Aboushi plays with a nasty side. Could become a fan favorite around these parts. The offensive line isn’t exactly young. Would be nice to have two players entering their third years injected into the first-team.

Looking ahead, I’d like to see what Chris Owusu can do in terms of his development, he has some nice potential. Defensively, I think T.J. Barnes can step into the two-deep as well.

Was Rex set up to fail this season?

Purposefully? I doubt it. I don’t think the last general manager would do that.

Keep in mind that whatever John Idzik wanted, Rex Ryan did it. He changed his temperament, his approach to the media and became a much more tamed individual. Rex was willing to do whatever Idzik wanted.

I’m not sure many head coaches would come in and do that, so it was likely in Idzik’s best interest to keep Rex around.

Also, Rex was a huge selling point for free agents. Guys want to play for him. Idzik wasn’t the salesman here, the head coach was. He knows that. I don’t think he’d sabotage his best selling point.

It was Rex who did a great sales job on Michael Vick, convincing him to come to the Jets. Veteran guys want to play for him. Idzik knew that. So was Rex set up to fail? No. Put in an untenable position? Absolutely.

JetNation.com would like to thank Kristian for taking the time to answer these questions, and we look forward to hearing his take on the Jets this evening on JetNation Radio.