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New York Jets Head Coach Candidate: Kyle Shanahan

Disclaimer: Rex Ryan might not be fired at the end of the season. I do not necessarily endorse Ryan's dismissal, but it is a possibility. In the event it happens, we are going to profile some possibilities who might replace him.


Name: Kyle Shanahan

Current Job: Washington Redskins Offensive Coordinator 2010-present

Other NFL Experience: Houston Texans Offensive Coordinator 2008-2009; Houston Texans Quaterbacks Coach 2007; Houston Texans Wide Receivers Coach 2006; Tampa Bay Buccaneers Offensive Quality Control Coach 2004-2005

Prior Head Coaching Experience: None


  • Has produced prolific offenses as a coordinator. On track for third top five offense in five years as coordinator.
  • Improved Houston's offense from 14th to 3rd in his first year with higher yields per play from both run and pass games.
  • Had the Redskins at league average last year with Rex Grossman and John Beck at quarterback.
  • Son of a coach, which means he's been around the game his whole life, making him much more knowledgeable than average 32 year old.
  • Has studied under excellent offensive minds like his father, Gary Kubiak, and Alex Gibbs.
  • Even if you believe RGIII is an elite talent who didn't need much coaching, has designed a unique system to maximize his strengths.
  • Has made people like Sage Rosenfels and Kirk Cousins look like NFL quarterbacks.
  • Has father's network to hire assistant coaches.


  • Inexperience: only 32 years old with less than a decade of experience in the NFL. Is he ready to take on either a full scale rebuilding project or a locker room with strong personalities. The Jets will have at least one of them.
  • Never had to work without either his father or Gary Kubiak looking over his shoulder to help. Never fully in charge of his offense.
  • No track record as head coach or dealing with media like he would have to do in New York.

Bottom Line:

When his name was first mentioned, I was dead set against Shanahan as a possible candidate. I think it was because I've been burned one time too many by the young genius (Mangini, Schottenheimer) and I have always thought his father was overrated. Shanahan is his own person, though and should be judged by his own merits.

I think he has been groomed well and has an excellent offensive mind. I am still skeptical, though. As we have seen at times from Rex Ryan, there is much more to being a head coach than simply having knowledge on one side of the ball. Shanahan would become the face of a team either rebuilding or having some incredibly strong personalities with a demanding fan base and a press corps that loves to rip into a coach. That's a lot for a 32 year old who has never been a coach and is otherwise inexperienced.

The thing I do like about him is he has a much bigger list of contacts in the coaching ranks than the average 32 year old because of how many people his father has met during his career. Building a good staff is extremely important and an underrated quality in a head coach. Young head coaches don't know enough people so they frequently end up like Eric Mangini where you end up with unqualified people in important positions (Brian Schottenheimer, Bob Sutton) because qualified coaches (Mike Heimerdinger) won't risk their reputation working for somebody they don't know, or they end up like Raheem Morris and work with coaches they don't mesh with (Jeff Jagodzinski, Jim Bates).

Of the big reasons Mangini was unsuccessful, the important one nobody talks about is the suspect coaching staff he assembled. A head coach has to delegate a lot. Bad assistants get head coaches fired. If Rex Ryan gets fired, Tony Sparano and Matt Cavanaugh will have a lot to do with it. Shanahan's network will make it easier for him to build a quality staff. For a young guy like him, it would be important to have as many former head coaches and experienced assistants on the staff as possible for him to lean on.

On top of this, the most important element of a successful team is a good quarterback, and Shanahan know how to do that.

I would not be a huge fan of a Shanahan hire. The Jets would be a huge task for somebody as inexperienced as him, but there's enough upside where I could probably talk myself into it assuming he got good coordinators.

If there is a coaching change, I expect him to be at the top of the list of candidates. He fits the Woody Johnson criteria, a hot big name who will be cheap.