The New York Jets have fired head coach Adam Gase. The team went 9-23 in two seasons under Gase, including finishing 2020 with a 2-14 record, earning the second overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. The Jets were on pace to earn the first overall pick after starting the season 0-11 before winning two games in a row to lock them out of that draft position.
Now, the Jets have the task of not only replacing Gase, but figuring out what to do with quarterback Sam Darnold, the second overall pick and finding a direction for the team. Here are four potential head coach candidates for the New York Jets.
If a team with a head coach vacancy is not interviewing Eric Bieniemy during this offseason, they are not doing their job very well. He is one of the top-tier offensive minds in the league who is ready to make the next step to head coaching.
Bieniemy is already tied to Patrick Mahomes and has been a big part of his meteoric rise. Whether the Jets decide to keep Darnold or replace him through the draft, he will have a chance to do the same thing with another young quarterback in New York.
This will be the case with all of the potential candidates listed here, but Bieniemy will need to be ready for a challenge if he takes the Jets job. The offense needs a rebuild in a bad way. There may be no one better to do it than the Chiefs’ offensive coordinator, though.
Assuming the Jets keep Darnold, they will need to turn his struggling career around quickly. If that is the case, then why not employ the man who turned Josh Allen into an MVP-candidate?
Brian Daboll has emerged as a quarterback whisperer and a true offensive guru in 2020. The Bills won the AFC East for the first time since 1995 and earned the second seed with a record of 13-3. Much of that is due to Daboll’s excellent offense and Allen’s turnaround.
There is no reason to believe that Daboll would not do just as well with a quarterback like Justin Fields out of Ohio State. But if they can pull off this hire before the draft, the Jets can keep Darnold banking on his resurgence and have more of an idea of a direction going forward.
There is almost always a surprise hire after the firings are solidified. 2020’s surprise hire may come in the form of Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett.
Head coach Matt LaFleur calls the plays with the help of Aaron Rodgers, but Hackett has to help draw them up. Clearly, he can play to a quarterback’s strengths, as Rodgers is the favorite to win the MVP after throwing 48 touchdowns to only five interceptions. In fact, the Packers’ offense had more passing touchdowns than punts in 2020. Credit has to be given to Hackett, despite Rodgers transcendent greatness.
As stated above, this job is not extremely attractive, so the top-flight talents may not be very interested. Hackett may be as exciting of a hire as New York may be able to pull off, but there is no reason to think he would be any worse than Gase.
Like Bieniemy, Robert Saleh will show up on almost every team’s short list when it comes to replacing head coaches. The 49ers may have missed the playoffs, but their defensive coordinator still deserves a lot of looks when it comes to heading up a team.
Despite a laundry list of injuries, San Francisco gave up the fourth-least passing yards and sixth-least rushing yards per game in 2020. That is due to Saleh’s play calling and recognition, and little else.
The biggest problem with this hire would be the fact that the Jets need an offensive rebuild and a clear direction at quarterback. The Jets defense is not terrible, despite their 2-14 record. Their run defense gave up the ninth-fewest yards per game last year.
Of course Saleh could make it even better, but he would need a crack team of offensive minds behind him to fix the real issues with this team. That being said, Saleh is a culture hire and if any team needs a culture reset, it is the New York Jets.
Featured Image courtesy of James P. McCoy/Buffalo News
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