Who are the best coaches in Jets history? Any ranking is subjective. It's a fun topic to discuss, though. Here is how I would rate the top five.
5. Herman Edwards
I know putting Edwards over Joe Walton will be a bit controversial. Walton took over a team that had been to the conference championship game the year before, and a number of people feel the team would have been better off keeping Michaels. Edwards had some pretty big flaws in terms of game management and X's and O's. He also made some suspect coordinator hires. At the end of the day, though, he made the Playoffs three times in five years. His teams were pretty resilient, bouncing back for some brutal defeats to win big games. The teams were also disciplined, not committing many penalties.
4. Rex Ryan
Ryan's tenure was a tale of two coaches. His first two years get him ranked this high. He took the Jets to back-to-back AFC Championship Games. Early in his tenure, the rest of the league had no idea what was coming when the Jets defense took the field. Ryan's last four years prevent him from being ranked higher. The Jets did not have a winning record under Rex after his second season. His hands off, let boys be boys approach was a great fit for a team loaded with veteran leaders in a locker room that can police itself. It doesn't work as well in a younger locker room with players who need guidance. Rex might have been a better coach in a different era. Due to the salary cap, you cannot keep a veteran team together for the long haul.
3. Bill Parcells
Parcells was only around for three years, but each of those three seasons was a great coaching job in its own way. In 1997, he improved the Jets from 1 win to 9. In 1998, he took them to the top echelon of the league, losing to Denver in the AFC Championship Game. The 1999 Jets story was one of resiliency. After a brutal start that included the emotionally crushing loss of quarterback Vinny Testaverde, Parcells guided the Jets from a 2-6 start to finish 8-8. Even though the team missed the Playoffs, Parcells called it one of his best coaching jobs at the time he was. inducted into the Hall of Fame. I've always wondered how things would have turned out if he had stuck around for longer. Amazingly, Parcells was the first Jets coach to end his tenure with a winning record. He is still the only Jets coach to have a winning record and have a tenure of longer than one year. (Al Groh and Todd Bowles both have winning records in one season.)
2. Walt Michaels
The 1970's were a painful decade for the Jets. Michaels was hired in 1977 and turned things around as the iconic New York Sack Exchange emerged under his watch . By his second year, the Jets were .500. By his fifth year, they were a Playoff team. One season later, they went to the AFC Championship Game. A controversial firing followed so the team could promote offensive coordinator Joe Walton. One cannot help but wonder the alternate history if the Jets kept him.
1. Weeb Ewbank
Obviously, the only coach to win a Super Bowl in Jets history takes the top spot. The Jets were lucky to land a coach with two NFL Championship wins in 1963. Ewbank guided the Jets to the top of the football world with the upset of his former team in Super Bowl III. A year later the Jets had a team that could have gone all the way again, but they lost to the Chiefs in the AFL Playoffs. This was the coach during the glory years, the Namath years. I am sure a number of these rankings will be up for debate, but I cannot imagine anybody questioning Ewbank at number one.