An interregnum in Florham Park

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As I mentioned in my last post on the Jets, Rex Ryan was head coach when I first started following them, in fact when I first got into American Football,  with Mike Tannenbaum as the general manager. Although Tannenbaum was replaced by John Idzik in 2013 this is the first time I’ve been fully interested in the changes in the front office, not least because this feels like the Jets are completely resetting and restarting with the firing of Rex too.

Over the last few days I’ve read and listened to a lot of different commentary and views on what is happening with the search for the next leaders of the Jets. The first conclusion I’ve drawn,  is that no one really knows what is happening, or what is going to happening. It changes quickly, there is a lot of speculation with many questions and few answers, lots of opinion and very little fact. The rumour mill is rife so its hard to separate the wheat from the chaff but I’ve tried to draw together some facts and thoughts about the main areas of focus for both of the available posts.

General manager

A few people have asked me who I think the best candidate for head coach is. Personally, I think the Jets are making another mistake if they take a HC before sorting the GM out. Either that, or take  them both together, for example Kirchner and Quinn from Seattle. This was part of the problem when Tannenbaum left – Idzik had to agree to take on Rex Ryan and, as the Geno Smith starting debarcle showed, that wasn’t the best relationship. Unless Bruce Arians or Chip Kelly suddenly finds themselves at a loose end, I’d say the Jets search team need to focus on someone to run the front office first.

Currently, newyorkjets.com has posted the following candidates who have either been interviewed or are due to be:

  • Jon Robinson (TB) – not yet interviewed
  • Rod Graves (NYJ)
  • Chris Grier (MIA)
  • Trent Kirchner (SEA)
  • Bill Kuharich (CLE)
  • Mike Maccagnan (HOU) – second interview
  • Rick Mueller (PHI)

Trent Kirchner, director of pro-personnel in Seattle seems a popular candidate on Jet’s discussion forums. Although John Idzik came from the Seahawks pot he was mostly a numbers guy, whereas Kirchner has much more of a scouting background, playing a key role in helping build the impressive Seahawks roster.  Judging by the ‘success’ of some of Idzik’s draft picks; someone with a background in player scouting seems non-negotiable in the new GM.

Maccagnan, known to be a favourite of Charlie Casserley, also has an impressive scouting and drafting background. After joining the Houston Texans in 2010 as director of college scouting, the first draft pick he was involved in was of a certain J.J. Watt – you may have heard of him. Today, the Jets confirmed they are calling Maccagnan for a second interview ; making him seem like the current front runner with suggestions the interviewing team were impressed by his organisational skills and scouting system.

The only internal candidate Rod Graves, is standing in as director of football operations during the search, however I’m not sure looking inwards is what the Jets need for either position. Although he has GM experience in Arizona, if you are going to clean out, you need to commit to it.  It seems, with the second interview being put out there that things are starting to move a pace in this search and hopefully over the coming days and week the situation may come clearer.

Head coach

When it comes to finding a head coach the rumour mill is going into overdrive – despite several NFL polls in both the UK and US suggesting that the Jets job is low down the list of the best available vacancies. I’ve even heard a suggestion on a Jets podcast that someone named ‘Rex Ryan’ might be the best person for the job! The following names have been confirmed on newyorkjets.com as candidates who have already been interviewed:

  • Todd Bowles ( Defensive coordinator – Arizona)
  • Tom Cable (Assistant HC/Offensive line – Seattle)
  • Anthony Lynn (Running backs coach –New York Jets)
  • Doug Marrone (ex-Buffalo Bills HC)
  • Dan Quinn (Defensive coordinator – Seattle)
  • Frank Reich (Offensive coordinator – San Diego)

One of the continuing themes of discussion is an insistence the Jets should avoid another defensively minded coach. Sure, this was part of Rex’s downfall when things starting going wrong offensively; although it was not the only factor; poor drafting and offensive coordinating played a big part too.  However, surely the more sensible approach is that we need simply the best person for the job – isn’t this smart recruitment? Yes, you have an idea of the main strengths you are looking for but you don’t stick to this rigidly if it means passing by other candidates who may be a better all round fit. Also, judging by some of the performances this year it would take a miracle worker of biblical standards to change Geno Smith into the franchise QB the Jets crave and I’m not sure any of the candidates have this on their CV.  Changes in offense are needed, in both coaching and playing roles but there are another things to consider in the head coaching position.

The rumour mill suggests that Dan Quinn interviewed particularly strongly and seems to be the current front runner amongst beat reporters and other Jets writers. However, Bowles is known to be another Casserley favourite. Both have good defensive credentials, Arizona have a top 5 ranking D, and everyone knows about the ‘Legion of Boom’. Quinn seems to be a popular on the fan forums as he is known to be tough and hard nosed; something definitely required to be a HC in New York. He also has links to the Jets; coordinating the defensive line in 2007-2008 and the New Jersey area; he was born in Morristown, NJ.

But what about Doug Marrone – who Kristian Dyer of Yahoo Sports in NY on Jetnation.com suggests is currently in close second position behind Quinn. When he stepped away from his Bills contract, he was quickly linked with the Jets – as a local boy it was an obvious link to make. Depending on who you believe, Marrone did not interview well although this hasn’t been confirmed and there have also been unconfirmed reports that he was an ‘egomaniac’ in Buffalo. Whether or not this is true, a plus for Marrone is that he has experience as a head coach whereas other candidates such as Bowles and Quinn do not. However, everyone has to start somewhere…look at Tom Landry – he had never head coached before the Cowboys and that went quite well. I’m not suggesting that the Jets will be that lucky, but to be honest most experienced good head coaches or those who are open to interview have either been fired, retired or walked away from a position; like Marrone.  Just like top QBs, top HCs don’t tend to float around waiting to be picked up. Gary Kubiak is a name that has also been bounced around but although he had some success in terms of creating a half decent team in Houston for a few years, he seems more suited to coordinator roles. For me, Marrone just doesn’t feel right regardless of whether reports of his behaviour are true .

This may sound like a lot of sitting on the fence and procrastination. However, I think that is the reality of the current situation. One writer suggests one thing, while another suggests something different, changing on a day to day basis. We know who is being interviewed, we know who is doing the interviewing and we know what we need; however until the names of the chosen 2 are confirmed by Woody, all we really can do is wait, and while we’re waiting, we might as well speculate.

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