The Jets will likely be looking for a new head coach. Over the next few days we are going to introduce some potential candidates in a series of articles. Surely not all of the candidates we profile will get an interview. It is likely the Jets will speak with candidates who won’t appear on the initial lists. We will go more in depth once interviews are known.
Being a head coach in the NFL isn’t a easy. There is a lot to learn about the job. Some coaches are able to do better in their second go around after learning from what did and didn’t work. Andy Reid and Tom Coughlin are among the coaches who didn’t break through and win a Super Bowl until they were on their second head coaching job. Bill Belichick was fired as a failure in Cleveland before building a dynasty in New England. Pete Carroll was fired after two failed head coaching stints in the pros before building a dynasty at USC and finally having success in his third try as an NFL head coach.
Of course not everybody learns and improves. You could end up with somebody who just repeats the same mistakes from his first job like Adam Gase.
Here are some retread candidates who might be mentioned as Jets coaching candidates in the weeks ahead.
Co-Defensive Coordinator, Arizona State
Past NFL Head Coaching Job: Cincinnati Bengals 2003-2018
Pros: Engineered multiple rebuilds. Transformed the Bengals from the league’s laughing stock into a competitive franchise in a tough division. Successfully developed two quarterbacks. Made good coordinator hires. Good developer of talent. Worked around cheap owner who left team at a disadvantage for facilities, scouting staff, and free agency among other things.
Cons: Never won a Playoff game in sixteen years. Suspect game manager.
Initial Thoughts: I think Lewis would be a very unpopular hire in the Jets fanbase. He has become synonymous with his 0-7 postseason record. My take on him is thus a bit controversial. His Playoff failures are definitely part of his story, but they aren’t the only relevant fact here. At the point he took over the Bengals, they were every bit the disaster the Jets are today. They hadn’t had a winning record in twelve years. He built them into a solid franchise. I get the postseason concerns, but some coaches lose the “can’t win the big one” label once they make a change of scenery. Even if not I can’t say, “He gets his teams to the Playoffs but doesn’t win once he’s there,” is the most compelling argument against a coach for the Jets in their current state. Don’t get me wrong. Lewis wouldn’t be my first choice, but this is a respectable coach. Let’s not treat him like he’s Adam Gase.
Currently Not Employed in the NFL
Pros: Solid offensive mind. Helped Matthew Stafford improve. Lions tenure looks much more impressive in hindsight.
Cons: Seems to have a ceiling. Has made shaky in game decisions. (Remember the timeout against the Jets in the 2010 Playoffs?
Initial Thoughts: It’s amazing how time can change your perspective. Two years ago Caldwell was a candidate for the Jets job. I was really hoping they wouldn’t hire him. It seemed like the Lions just kept falling short in his time year. Now in hindsight after watching that team fall apart under Matt Patricia and living through the Adam Gase experience, Caldwell’s understated competence doesn’t seem so bad.
Defensive Coordinator, Buffalo Bills
Past NFL Head Coaching Job: Minnesota Vikings 2010-2013
Pros: Has done a solid job with Buffalo’s defense. Recurring theme wherever he has worked is how much respect he has among the players. Made the Playoffs in Minnesota with Christian Ponder as his quarterback.
Cons: Not viewed as particularly innovative. Didn’t build a strong coaching staff with Vikings. Struggled with many aspects of running the team in Minnesota. Might be better suited as an assistant.
Initial Thoughts: Obviously based on the lack of depth in these profiles, I have just begun research on possible candidates. I initially thought I’d like Frazier more than I do after reading up about his Minnesota tenure. There’s not a lot that was redeeming. He just didn’t seem up to the job. I know my hypothesis in this section is coaches can improve, but I feel like there are options with a better chance of success if the Jets go this route.
Defensive Coordinator, New Orleans Saints
Past NFL Head Coaching Job: Oakland Raiders 2012-2014
Pros: Has done a solid job making the Saints defense good enough. Has access to the Payton coaching tree to build an offensive staff.
Cons: Not much you could say he did well in a tough situation with the Raiders.
Initial Thoughts: I’d view Allen almost like a first-time coaching candidate rather than a retread. He never had a chance with the Raiders where he inherited a terrible roster with no cap space and most of his premium Draft picks traded away. My questions would be the normal ones you’d have about any first time head coach.