Looking Ahead: Five Coaching Candidates for the Jets

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    The Jets have started the NFL season with a record of 0-3 for the second consecutive year. A combination of poor coaching and a lack of depth due to injuries have caused the Jets to be considered as the worst team in the league.

    Is it Adam Gase’s fault?

    A majority of the fans think so. With just one look at the comments section of any Jets social media post, you will find at least twenty variations of the phrase “Fire Gase.” The playcalls have arguably been not good. The Jets rank worst in the league in a plethora of offensive stats. Sam Darnold is clearly regressing. His team is currently a laughingstock.

    However, to play the devil’s advocate, his team is banged up. His starting WRs are currently Chris Hogan and Lawrence Cager (though Joe Douglas found a diamond in the rough with Braxton Berrios). Darnold is handing the ball off to Frank Gore and Chris Herndon’s seemingly forgotten how to catch a ball.

    That’s the only excuse he can make. Other than deflecting the blame to Sam Darnold, there’s quite nothing else that he can say for his team’s lack of success. At the end of the day, everything hinges on Gase. Whether or not he takes accountability for the team’s shortcomings is only a judgement of his character.

    Dec 29, 2019; Orchard Park, New York, USA; New York Jets head coach Adam Gase looks on prior to the game against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

    It’s rumored that Jets owner Christopher Johnson has made initial preparations to dismiss Gase. Fox Sports’ Colin Cowherd reports that if the Jets lose Thursday against an 0-3 Denver Broncos team fielding Brett Rypien as their quarterback, Gase will be fired. It is unclear who the interim will be in this scenario. ESPN’s Chris Mortensen corroborates that, writing that the Jets will be keeping a watchful eye on Adam Gase.

    Is Gase scared of losing his job? When asked about job security, he brushed off the question.

    “I’ll do what i always do,” Gase said. “[I’ll] come back to work and try to get it fixed.”

    Will the Jets continue losing under an interim head coach? The future holds the answer to that question. Will Sam Darnold remain the savior, or will he be tossed out on the street? We don’t know.

    With that being said, here are five coaching candidates to look at after the season ends.

    1. Arthur Smith

    Oct 21, 2018; London, United Kingdom; Tennessee Titans tight ends coach Arthur Smith reacts during an NFL International Series game against the Los Angeles Chargers at Wembley Stadium. The Chargers defeated the Titans 20-19. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    ‘King Arthur,’ as Jet X’s Michael Nania has dubbed him, is currently the Titans’ offensive coordinator. Smith is known for keeping his foot on the gas pedal. After Ryan Tannehill replaced Marcus Mariota for the Titans in 2019’s week 7, the Titans scored a touchdown on 34.5% of their offensive possessions (second only to the Baltimore Ravens). Tannehill (an ex-Gase QB) went from an average quarterback to a bonafide superstar, averaging 9.6 yards per attempt (NFL-leading) and a 117.5 quarterback rating (also NFL-leading).

    The Jets currently rank last in second-and-long pass rate. This means that in scenarios such as second & 10, they are incredibly likely to run. The Seahawks, who have an incredible offense spurred by Russell Wilson, rank the second-highest. The Seahawks are 3-0 despite having a horrific defense. While some of this can be attributed to having the second-best quarterback in the league, they aren’t afraid to throw the ball. The Titans rank somewhere in the middle of the pack, but they also have a top-five running back in Derrick Henry.

    Here’s a chart by Ben Baldwin. Note that the Titans are quite efficient on both fronts, compared to the Jets.

    Smith originated as a TE Coach, meaning that he’ll have a use for Chris Herndon’s untapped potential, something that Gase has yet to fully figure out.

    Nania’s Numbers show a good year for Herndon under Bowles in 2018 compared to whatever you want to call Herndon’s year so far this year.

    Smith’s usage of play action and pre-snap motion are things that really benefited Ryan Tannehill. He takes shots downfield, keeps it simple, and establishes a run game.

    Smith is a leader. He’s coached on both sides of the ball. The following is an excerpt from Jet X’s Ben Blessington:

    The Jets need a leader for both sides of the ball. Somebody whose players will run through a brick wall to play for him.

    Again, Arthur Smith fits the bill.

    Smith has experience on both sides of the ball, coming into the league as a defensive quality control coach for Washington in 2007. As tight end Delanie Walker said when Smith was hired as the Titans’ offensive coordinator, “The guy has worked on defense, offense, and he’s been in every room. He knows the game, he studies his butt off and I know he is going to be a great OC…[t]he dude knows what he is doing. He understands football.”

    Perhaps the most impressive part of his resume is that he survived three different coaching regimes in Tennessee. Clearly well-liked, he arrived in 2011 and worked his way from offensive quality control coach, to assistant offensive line coach, to tight ends coach, before becoming the offensive coordinator in 2019.

    But more than this, his players love him.

    This excerpt from The Washington Post says it all. Asked about Smith by a Washington Football Team physician who was a childhood friend of Smith’s, a former Titans player choked up and said, “I’ve never met a guy so trustworthy, so direct and who really lets you know where you stand.”

    The literal polar opposite of Gase.

    From the same Washington Post article, Titans linebackers coach Dave McGinnis said of Smith, “He has an insight into players, and he generates trust from players.”

    Smith isn’t just a brilliant offensive mind. He doesn’t just share the same football ideology as the GM. He hasn’t just shown that he can fix quarterbacks ruined by Gase. He’s all of those things, but most importantly, he checks the box as a leader of men. That’s the trait that separates great head coaches from great coordinators.

    BEn blessington

    Sam Darnold needs to regain his confidence – why not try a real offensive-minded head coach to fully tap into his potential? Or, if you’re on the Trevor Lawrence train, why not give Lawrence someone to be a mentor and a real leader for a struggling, rebuilding New York Jets team?

    The only negatives I could find on Smith was one instance in which Smith yelled at an injured AJ Brown to play better (for which he apologized).

    King Arthur will take Darnold/Lawrence to the next level. King Arthur will utilize the weapons that the Jets have, adapt to situations, and turn the Jets into a powerhouse like that of the Rams and 49ers (hopefully).

    2. Eric Bieniemy

    KANSAS CITY, MO – OCTOBER 7: Eric Bieniemy, offensive coordinator with the Kansas City Chiefs, shouted at a Jacksonville Jaguars player in anger as words were exchanged between the two teams in the Chiefs’ 30-14 win in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)

    Bieniemy has been a fan-favorite for Jets head coach dating back to the termination of Todd Bowles. The Chiefs offensive coordinator has been quite the mentor for the league’s top quarterback. He’s the leader of the Chiefs’ electric offense. While he doesn’t call the plays (that’s solely Andy Reid’s duty), he’s communicating with Mahomes before the snap.

    Bieniemy started his football journey as a running back. He spent four seasons with the Chargers, four with the Bengals, and one with the Eagles. The Colorado alum was selected with the 39th pick in the 1991 NFL draft.

    After his career ended, Bieniemy took a job as the running backs coach for the Buffs. He progressed through the ranks and eventually became the Colorado offensive coordinator in 2011.

    In two seasons, Bieniemy’s Buffaloes went 4-21. They averaged around 300 yards of offense per game, however.

    The Jets requested to interview Bieniemy last year, but did not hire him.

    3. Greg Roman

    CLEVELAND, OH – DECEMBER 17, 2017: Senior offensive assistant/tight ends coach Greg Roman of the Baltimore Ravens walks onto the field prior to a game on December 17, 2017 against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. Baltimore won 27-10. (Photo by: 2017 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)

    Roman is the architect of the Ravens’ offense. The 48-year old is entering his second season as offensive coordinator with the Ravens, but he’s already made quite an impact. His scheme has produced a Michael Vick-type of player in Lamar Jackson, and the offense is quite efficient.

    Roman built his entire offensive scheme around Lamar Jackson. Lamar then won MVP.

    Pretty self-explanatory. Giving Roman Trevor Lawrence could be deadly.

    He’s coached Tyrod Taylor, Alex Smith, Colin Kaepernick, and Jackson. All have had their best statistical years with Roman.

    4. Brant Boyer

    Brant Boyer, Jets Special Teams Coach. Photo by New York Jets.

    Should the Jets choose to stay in-house for their replacement, there is quite possibly no one more equipped for the head coaching vacancy than Brant Boyer.

    The former linebacker spent ten years in the NFL with the Dolphins, Jaguars, and Browns.

    In four seasons with the Jets, Boyer turned a bottom-five special teams unit into one of the top units of the NFL. He’s done this with a different primary player at kick returner, punt returner and kicker, as well as a different leading special teams tackler in each of his four seasons as coordinator.

    The 49-year old is well respected throughout the locker room. He’s a no-nonsense coach. If the Jets choose to fire Gase midseason, Boyer’s a lock for the interim job. If his team performs well, why not allow Boyer to keep on keeping on?

    5. Nate Eberflus

    Indianapolis Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus yells from the sideline during the second quarter of an NFL game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, December 16, 2018 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Ashley Landis/The Dallas Morning News)

    Should the Jets choose to hire a defensive-minded HC, Eberflus is the best man for the job.

    Eberflus was hired in 2018 by then-Colts HC Josh McDaniels to be the Colts’ defensive coordinator. When McDaniels backed out of his commitment with Indianapolis, Eberflus chose to stay.

    Eberflus has turned a 30th-ranked defense into a powerhouse. They have ranked 10th, 18th, and 8th in points allowed since Eberflus joined the team.

    Eberflus, 50, has had a life riddled with football. He was a four-year letterman and a three-year starting linebacker at Toledo under Nick Saban. In 1992, he joined the Toledo coaching staff as a student assistant. He spent nine years there, eventually becoming the defensive backs coach before moving to Missouri as a defensive coordinator in 2001. After seven years with the Wildcats, Eberflus was hired by the Browns to be a linebacker coach. He then spent 2011-2016 as the Cowboys’ linebackers coach as well as the defensive passing game coordinator in 2016 and 2017.

    His 28 years of experience will be a valuable tool for a head coaching job.

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