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Who should be the Jets head coach in 2020?

First in a series

Oklahoma v Kansas State Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images

Joltin’ Joe Douglas was hired as the GM of the New York Jets long after Adam Gase was named head coach. During his introductory news conference Joe mentioned how he and Adam shared singular vision for the success of the Jets. Adam and Joe worked together in Chicago in 2015 and developed a strong relationship that continued to this day.

That is not a guarantee that the relationship will continue beyond today.

Circumstances in this lost season along with the rudderless course of the Jets dictate a change in the leadership involving the coaching staff. That is not to say all of the coaches should go, but the head coach (who was a failure in Miami) has his head squarely on the chopping block. Personal relationships are one thing, but the NFL stands for “Not For Long” when a team is so clearly overmatched in the talent and strategy department.

It was never more evident than in the Monday night game versus the Patriots in week 7, the 33-0 massacre at home. No team should be crushed that badly on their own turf or anywhere for that matter. Quite frankly the game wasn’t even worse than the score. The Jets were overmatched and thoroughly outcoached.

It comes down to coaching, and the Jets do not have the right coach for this or any team. Adam Gase was only mildly successful when he had Peyton Manning as his QB; Manning was a person who knew a lot more about NFL offenses and being a QB than his coach did. Gase became a offensive coordinator when Broncos OC (Mike McCoy) left to become the head coach in San Diego. The Broncos had the highest scoring offense in NFL history in 2013 under Gase and Manning but lost in the Super Bowl 43-8 against the Seahawks.

Gase was still the OC of the Broncos in 2014, but a thigh injury to Peyton Manning torpedoed the season. They lost to Indianapolis in the Divisional round 24-13. Gase moved on to become the offensive coordinator of the Chicago Bears (where Gase and Joe Douglas became friends), and the Broncos continued with Rick Dennison as OC in 2015.

Under Dennison the Broncos won the Super Bowl in 2015, Peyton Manning’s last game, which cemented Manning as one of the greatest QB’s in NFL history.

Gase became the head coach of the Miami Dolphins in 2016 and was not a successful coach. Mike McCoy was a failure in San Diego, and Rick Dennison has never been a head coach. All three (Gase, McCoy and Dennison) have had little success outside of the years the spent with Peyton Manning.

Peyton Manning had a great offensive football mind, and he added to that a maniacal work ethic. He took nothing for granted. Manning worked every day during the season on his technique from footwork to his quick release. I have watched video of Manning at Tennessee doing footwork drills while holding a football. I saw him do the same exact drill in a practice in 2015. Manning didn’t need to be coached. He was his own driving force.

McCoy was not successful with the Chargers despite having a future Hall of Fame QB in Phillip Rivers and was fired as OC of the Cardinals in 2018.

Gase was not successful in Chicago. His Bears were ranked 23rd in scoring. He did a poor job of running the offense in Chicago despite having Matt Forte, Alshon Jeffery and Martellus Bennett. His offenses in Miami were ranked 26th, 28th, and 26th in scoring his three years there, and he failed to make Ryan Tannehill a viable NFL QB. How anyone assumed Gase was an offensive guru is beyond my comprehension. Gase like many coaches lived off the exploits they had when the future Hall of Fame QB Peyton Manning was running the show.

It comes down to coaching.

Here is the difference in coaching on a Monday night in New Jersey. Now I consider Bill Belichick the best teacher of football in the world along with being the best head coach in the NFL so it is not a fair comparison. Yet I want the best coach that is available for the New York Jets. These two clips show the difference in coaching in New York and New England.

Bill Belichick is up 24-0 against the Jets. He then gathers his entire defense to huddle around him. There are less than 6 minutes to go in the half. He could have waited until halftime to instruct his troops but felt it was necessary to talk to them right away. This conversation lasted almost a minute.

This is what Bill Belichick said, “We talked about this, them calling the game tight. They’re calling it tight. They’re calling the DPIs tight. They called it tight on the Jets down there on the goal line on them, too. And they call roughing the passer tight. We’ve got to do a better job on that.” He went on to say,“Look, the pressure up the middle is killing this guy now. Interceptions, strip-sacks and all that. We’ve got to keep pressure on this guy up the middle.” Belichick could see the situation, and he wanted to keep the pressure on Darnold to force more mistakes.

So at this time what does Adam Gase say to an obviously shaken Darnold?

“ Let’s put this ball in the end zone; OK. We get the ball in the 2nd half; we have to reset right now, right? You know what to do, alright; just trust in yourself.”

Darnold was flustered and throwing the ball up for grabs. He had no idea how to escape the pressure or set proper protections. A good offensive mind would use plays to hammer blitzes, especially zero blitzes where a huge play is just waiting to happen.

All Gase says is put the ball in the end zone; “Gee coach have any tips on how to do that when I am running for my life? Any plays in particular you have in mind?” A good coach would know how to handle and exploit the all out blitzes the Jets have been seeing all year. There is no need to disguise anything. The Jets know what is coming and are incapable of stopping it.

Also the problem is Sam Darnold is not progressing. Ge is regressing. On this play the pressure is minimal. He throws with poor technique, off his back foot. The ball is far over the head of a tall receiver (Demaryius Thomas) who was in bracket coverage anyway. We saw a poor throw ,a terrible read, and a QB going in the wrong direction because of inferior coaching. Once a QB starts to “chuck and duck” it is hard to break the habit. Something has to be done quickly or we may ruin a promising talent. Bad habits are easy to make and hard to break so this cannot fester much longer.

This situation has to end.

So what is the solution?

The Jets need an infusion of new blood in the coaching of the team who is not some retread from another losing organization. They need with an innovative offensive mind who can teach Sam Darnold how to play the position. He also has to bring in assistant coaches who can coach, not sycophantic disciples like Dowell Loggains. Mixed in with seasoned NFL coaches, a great (coaching) team can be assembled.

The first coach to come to mind is Lincoln Riley who is the head coach at the University of Oklahoma. I was wary of Riley as a coach when he was hired, but since he has taken Baker Mayfield (transfer from Texas Tech) and Kyler Murray (one year starter), making them Heisman Trophy winners. Plus this year he has Jalen Hurts (transfer from Alabama) 74% completions, 21 TDs - 3 INTs in 8 games a Heisman front runner.

Riley’s pupil Jalen Hurts has been named one of 10 finalists for the 2019 Senior CLASS Award. To be eligible for the Senior CLASS Award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I FBS senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence: community, classroom, character and competition.

I think Riley would be the best coach who could come in and help Sam while providing some much needed infusion of energy into the entire franchise.

That is not to say Riley would even come to the Jets or any NFL team. This is what he said late last year about becoming an NFL head coach, “I can’t tell you how I’m gonna feel in 10 years, but no, not right now. If I wasn’t at one of the elite programs in the country, maybe, but no, I’m very happy where I’m at right now.”

”If it was 20, 30 years ago, where there were some major differences, maybe. ... The way the college game has evolved, financially it’s a lot better situation now when you compare it to NFL teams. We’re at a place where we’re happy, and we don’t take that for granted. I love coaching at Oklahoma, love coaching college football.”

Here’s the thing. Everyone says they want to stay where they are, and it’s so great. But Norman, Oklahoma, isn’t exactly Broadway. Who is going to remember the coach at OU other than an OU fan or a college football historian? Bob Stoops was there for 17 seasons and won the National Championship in 2000. Where is he now? Stoops is going to coach the Dallas franchise in the XFL next year. Hooray! That is what coaching at OU with a .798 winning % does for you.

Barry Switzer coached at OU for 16 years and won 3 National Championships but is always remembered as the Dallas Cowboys coach who won a Super Bowl albeit with Jimmy Johnson’s players. Bud Wilkinson coached at OU for 17 years and won 3 National Championships, but no one now talks of Wilkinson when they mention all time great coaches unless you are some historian. Everyone knows who Vince Lombardi is because he won in the NFL. If you want to be considered a great coach you have to coach in the NFL. Plenty of people will disagree with me about that, but the NFL is the top of the profession. It’s simple.

Even if Riley was open to coming to the NFL the Jets would have serious competition for his services. You know Daniel Snyder would be knocking hard on Riley’s door with a boatload of money. It would take a boatload and a long contract to even entice Riley out of Norman. Riley just signed an extension worth about $6 million a year so he would need a contract at least the size of Andy Reid ($7.5 million) and about 6 years to even begin to interest Riley.

Yet the Jets are not without merit as a team if Riley were interested. He would have another young stud QB to mold into a Pro Bowl player plus an owner who would stay in the boardroom and out of football decisions. He also would have a new young GM to work with and complete control of his coaches.

Other teams would come calling, but they have some baggage that might be cause for concern for Riley. The Falcons will soon be looking for a coach, but their QB is starting on the downside of his career. Their best player (Julio Jones) is getting long in the tooth. The roster doesn’t have much flexibility and up against the salary cap.

The team from our nation’s capital has a need and a new QB, but I wonder how Riley feels about Haskins as compared to Darnold as to talent. Plus Daniel Snyder has the money, but one of the problems working in Washington is Daniel Snyder himself. He is a meddlesome owner who would be a turnoff to any quality candidate.

The Dolphins, Bengals, Buccaneers are all dumpster fires but all have 1st year coaches. The Broncos need a QB (if Drew Lock is not the answer). The Browns could come calling so Riley could work again with Baker Mayfield. Would he want to?

The Giants could move on from Shurmer, but hiring Riley is not a Giants’ way. They like an NFL pedigree. The Broncos will soon realize that Vic Fangio is a great defensive coach but not so much a head coach. The Cardinals have been competitive with Kliff Kingsbury as coach, but they might be looking for a new GM as Kiem is on shaky ground in the desert.

So just say Riley is open to coming to the Jets; Who could he bring with him as coaches to help the transformation from a doormat to a contender?

Bill Bedenbaugh

Bedenbaugh is the co-offensive coordinator and the offensive line coach at OU. He has been in Norman since 2013 and has established himself as one of the very best offensive line coaches in football. The Sooners led the Big XII and ranked 10th in the nation in rushing in 2014. The 261.2 average was the highest produced during the Bob Stoops’ 17 seasons. Oklahoma led the nation in 2014 by permitting a mere nine sacks. He sent three offensive linemen (Daryl Williams, Adam Shead and Tyrus Thompson) to the NFL Scouting Combine in 2015. OU’s 2016 offensive line was the main reason OU had one of most productive offensive years in school history, ranking first nationally in passing efficiency rating (mark of 193.8 was then an FBS record) and pass completion percentage (.706), second in total offense (554.8 ypg) and third in scoring offense (43.9 ppg).

The 2018 OU offensive line was recognized as the nation’s best and won the Joe Moore Award. (The Joe Moore Award is awarded annually to the best collegiate football offensive line unit.) The Sooners led the country in total offense (570.3 ypg), scoring offense (48.4 ppg), rushing yards per carry (6.6), and yards per play (FBS-record 8.6), and ranked second in passing efficiency rating (194.9). Right guard Dru Samia was named Tri-Big XII Offensive Lineman of the Year and was joined by left guard Ben Powers (consensus first-team) and right tackle Cody Ford (third-team) in earning All-America honors (Samia was a second-team selection.) Bedenbaugh was a semifinalist in 2018 for the Broyles Award, given to the nation’s top assistant coach.

Cale Gundy

Gundy has been a OU for 28 seasons so he might not be as receptive to moving to New York as other might be. He is currently the co-offensive coordinator and has been the inside receivers coach for the last 4 years.

In his first year as co-offensive coordinator, he helped OU set single-season school records in 2017 in total offense (579.6 ypg; led FBS), yards per play (8.3; second all-time in FBS), passing yards per game (361.8), and completion percentage (.714; led FBS). OU also led the FBS in passing efficiency rating (202.7) and first downs (361).

He was a running backs coach for 16 years and coached Demarco Murray (who led the NFL in rushing in 2014 with 1,845 yards and had over 7,000 career rushing yards), Samaje Perine (who led the Big 12 in rushing as a freshman (131.8 ypg) and set the FBS single-game rushing record with 427 yards vs. Kansas). In 2004, Adrian Peterson set the NCAA freshman rushing record with 1,925 yards, the best single-season mark in Oklahoma history. He also coached Quentin Griffin, who ranks as the third-leading rusher in OU history with 3,756 yards. In 2002, he gained 1,884 yards (No. 6 NCAA/134.6 ypg).

Gundy was a great QB at OU (1990-93) and held virtually every school single-game, single-season and career passing record prior to head coach Bob Stoops’ arrival.

Alex Grinch

Grinch is the first year defensive coordinator and safeties coach. He was hired at Oklahoma in January 2019 after spending the 2018 season as co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach for Ohio State’s 13-1 squad that won the Big Ten and Rose Bowl and finished No. 3 nationally. He is a three-time nominee and 2017 semifinalist for the Broyles Award (given to the nation’s top assistant coach).

He coached safeties at Ohio State (2018), defensive backs at Washington State (2015-17), safeties at Missouri (2012-14), defensive backs at Wyoming (2009-11), and cornerbacks at New Hampshire (2005-08). He served the 2015-17 seasons as Washington State’s defensive coordinator and secondary coach, leading an extraordinary turnaround for head coach Mike Leach’s defense.

In 2014, the year before Grinch’s arrival at Washington State, the Cougars ranked 99th nationally in total defense (442.3 ypg), 127th in pass defense (296.6 ypg) and 127th in turnovers gained (8). In 2017, he presided over a WSU unit that ranked 16th in total defense (323.3 ypg), ninth in passing defense (170.9 ypg) and ninth in turnovers gained (28). Washington State also allowed only 11 touchdown passes in 2017, tied for fifth-fewest in the country. Their 103 tackles for loss were tied for 8th most nationally.

Jay Boulware

Boulware is the special teams coordinator and running backs coach

Boulware has produced five 1,000-yard rushers the last four years, and four of his running backs during that time have earned first- or second-team All Big XII honors. Joe Mixon, Samaje Perine and Rodney Anderson have all been NFL Draft picks since 2017.

His 2018 running backs group lead the nation in yards per carry (6.6). Redshirt freshman Kennedy Brooks ranked third nationally with 8.9 yards per rush (minimum 9.0 carries per game) and was a USA Today Freshman All-American (1,056 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns), and Trey Sermon ran for 947 yards and 13 TDs.

OU’s special teams have produced nine TDs, a safety and three returned two-point PATs under his tutelage. Kicker/punter Austin Seibert (Browns), was named OU’s first-ever Big XII Special Teams Player of the Year in 2018, finishing his career as the all-time FBS scoring leader among kickers (his 499 points set school and Big 12 records).

Boulware served as tight ends coach for OU in 2013-14, helping former quarterback Blake Bell become a fourth-round draft pick as a tight end, a position he had never played prior to 2014. Fullbacks Trey Millard and Aaron Ripkowski were eventual NFL Draft picks.


The Jets are in serious need of talent, coaching and enthusiasm. Football is an emotional sport. You have to have passion when you play it. The Jets are a listless team, and take after their coach who is devoid of emotion. When the coach is on top of things, making adjustments, rescheming the game plan the players can see it. They feel the desire to succeed. When the coach stands stoic, making no changes while the team is being throttled, the players feel like they are on their own.

The coach doesn’t have to do everything. The players are to blame as well. Yet coaches are supposed to lead their team, putting them in a better position to win. Sadly that has not been the case with the Jets. You can’t change the entire team, but you can get a new person to lead them. That is what is needed.

I am not tied to Lincoln Riley as the only coaching prospect. There are others as well, but I would like a candidate with the proper teaching skills for our QB just like the way Sean McVay came to the Rams and turned a horrible Jared Goff into a viable NFL starter.

In a perfect world I would have either Robert Saleh (49ers DC) or Kris Richard (former DC in Seattle and current passing game coordinator and DB coach) as the head coach and have Riley as the offensive coordinator, but that ain’t never happening.

Losing to a team that is trying to lose is embarrassing.

Something has to change

What do you think?