The New York Jets: Most Important Off-Season in Franchise History
Part 1 of 3
This is a three-part series discussing what will be the most important off-season in the history of the New York Jets.
Todd Bowles was a dead man walking. The Jets defense had not performed to expectations, rookie quarterback Sam Darnold had missed nearly a month with a foot injury, and a season which started with a 31-point victory away from home had fallen short of anything and everything the organization wanted to accomplish. A change at the head coaching position was inevitable.
If recent history is any indication, a change of leadership can be helpful in the development of a young quarterback. Jared Goff’s career took leaps forward once Sean McVay replaced Jeff Fisher. Even just this year, Baker Mayfield threw for 18 touchdowns while winning 5 games in the 8 games after Hue Jackson was fired.
A new coach and a new system can benefit a young quarterback and tap into his full potential.
The next coach of the New York Jets will have the franchise’s future in his hand. It will be his job to mold Sam Darnold into the decade-plus starter he has the potential to be.
Not since Rex Ryan inherited another quarterback from USC a decade ago has the New York Jets head coaching job been so alluring.
With the Green Bay packers hiring Matt LaFleur, the two most intriguing head coaching positions available are now the Cleveland Browns and the New York Jets. Both teams are set up similarly – a young QB with enough cap space to put pieces around him. Another thing these two teams share is that the most dominant team in their division – the Steelers and the Patriots, respectively – have quarterbacks who are closing in on the end of their careers. The right fit at head coach could propel the Jets back into football relevancy and might net them a handful of division titles.
It is worth noting that of the 12 teams that made the playoffs this year, six have quarterbacks on a rookie contract – Rams, Bears, Cowboys, Eagles, Chiefs, and Texans. The Ravens have Lamar Jackson, but they still have Joe Flacco under contract. Of the six playoff teams whose QB is not on a rookie contract, four have won a Super Bowl, with Andrew Luck and Phillip Rivers being the only outliers.
Teams can be successful with young quarterbacks.
The ultimate test for a coach is developing a quarterback from a player who needs talent and money around him to win into a top-tier QB who can win with less money around him. Can the coach develop Jared Goff into Drew Brees or Tom Brady?
The Ones That Got Away
The coaching carousel in the NFL has started moving and vacancies in the league are filling up.
Green Bay hired LaFleur, mentioned earlier.
Bleacher Report reported that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have hired former Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians.
The Arizona Cardinals hired Kliff Kingsbury, former USC offensive coordinator. Kingsbury coached Texas Tech QBs Johnny Manziel and Patrick Mahomes.
The Jets want to bring in someone with an offensive mind to help develop Sam Darnold. Bowles, for what it’s worth, is a defensive minded coach, highlighted by his recent hiring as the DC for Tampa Bay.
Two Names You Need to Know:
Mike McCarthy, former Green Bay Packers head coach
Keep an eye out for this one, as McCarthy has been heavily linked to the Jets job ever since his firing in Green Bay after Week 13. New York is hoping that McCarthy can have an Andy Reid-like second act, where he recreates his coaching style and finds success. McCarthy ran a highly regarded QB camp in his early coaching days and had a hand in the development of Joe Montana, Brett Favre, and Aaron Rodgers. Not a bad QB resume. Oh, and he’s won a Lombardi Trophy.
Eric Bieniemy, Offensive Coordinator for the Kansas City Chiefs
Kansas City has had a breakout year offensively thanks to the emergence of MVP candidate second-year quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Prior to his role as OC, Bieniemy was a running backs coach. He’s had two players – Kareem Hunt in 2017 and Adrian Peterson in 2008 – win the rushing title. Perhaps the biggest thing that Bieniemy has going for him is that he has spent the better part of a decade coaching with Andy Reid. The Andy Reid coaching tree has been very successful of late, with Doug Pederson winning a Super Bowl and Matt Nagy turning around the Bears franchise. Both coaches have had success developing young QBs.
McCarthy and Bieniemy are the two most realistic coaching options for the Jets.
Former Dolphins Head Coach Adam Gase has been linked to the multiple head coaching vacancies. This is a more unlikely choice considering Gase would be switching teams within the division.
Kris Richard is the former DC for the Seattle Seahawks, back when the Legion of Boom was dominating the NFC. He would be able to build a bully on the defensive side of the ball, which already boasts one of the best safeties in the league in Jamal Adams. However, given the failure of the Todd Bowles regime, this, too seems unlikely.
Jim Caldwell has been a head coach in the NFL before. He’s had decent success, although he hasn’t won much in the playoffs. Longshot here.
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Pictures courtesy of 247Sports, NJ.com, ProFootball Talk, and Asbury Park Press.