It’s been an eye-opening tenure for Adam Gase in New York.
While Gase earned some credit for getting one of the best offensive seasons in NFL history alongside Peyton Manning in Denver, he’s had a difficult time replicating even a fraction of that success in flops with the Dolphins and Jets.
Now, two head-coaching stops, a meme, many back pages and 30 double-digit losses later, Gase is inching closer and closer to the unemployment line, with an uninspired 0-3 start to the 2020 season in New York potentially sparking a catalyst for change. Falling to 0-4 against the winless Broncos on “Thursday Night Football” will likely cost Gase his job.
Unlike the last time the Jets hired a head coach, there are several intriguing options for New York to chase as Gase’s successor. Here are five of the best:
- Current job: Offensive coordinator, Kansas City Chiefs
- Head coaching experience? No
The fact that Eric Bieniemy has interviewed with seven different organizations but has yet to land a head gig is surprising.
Sure, there’s some skepticism considering Bieniemy isn’t the one calling plays for Kansas City’s dynamic offense, but the Andy Reid coaching tree is tried and true, and Reid doesn’t get enough credit for that. John Harbaugh, Sean McDermott, Doug Pederson and Ron Rivera have all come from the Reid tree, and each head coach has had good to great levels of success in the NFL.
Why would Bieniemy be any different? While Kansas City’s success is certainly somewhat symbiotic between quarterback, head coach and offensive coordinator, it’s suspect that Bieniemy, just a few months removed from winning a Super Bowl with KC, still hasn’t gotten any head coaching offers. If the Jets plan to move past an archaic system and one of the league’s most consistently terrible offenses, then Bieniemy would be a very smart and forward hire.
- Current job: Offensive coordinator, Tennessee Titans
- Head coaching experience? No
Arthur Smith has only been an OC for the Titans since the beginning of the 2019 season, but in that span he’s worked wonders with the Tennessee offense, giving them a definitive identity and really unlocking the potential of some of his key offensive players.
Utilizing a heavy-run and downfield play-action attack, Smith has brought the absolute best out of quarterback Ryan Tannehill and running back Derrick Henry, while boasting one of the elite offenses in the league since Tannehill became their starter.
The @Titans OC Arthur Smith is going to be a HC soon. Like 2021 soon
Titans ranks since Tannehill became starter (Week 7 of 2019):
Yards per play (1st)
Red zone % (1st)
3rd down % (T-2nd)
Scoring (4th) @PaulHembo
— Dan Orlovsky (@danorlovsky7) September 21, 2020
Can’t really argue with results there. It might also say something that Smith has really made something of former Gase castoff Tannehill.
- Current job: Head coach, Oklahoma Sooners
- Head coaching experience? Yes, college.
The odds that Lincoln Riley would leave Oklahoma are pretty slim, but if the NFL has shown anything the last few years, it’s that teams have a propensity of looking towards the college game for inspiration. The Jets are no exception to that rule.
The Jets weren’t afraid to scour the college ranks to find a head coach in their last coaching search before settling on Gase. They were reportedly interested in Iowa State’s Matt Campbell and Baylor’s Matt Rhule, with the latter winding up as the head coach of the Panthers on a massive six-year deal, and they also interviewed Kliff Kingsbury (a former Jet himself) for their coaching vacancy before he landed with the Cardinals.
While those interviews all came under former GM Mike Maccagnan, the organization was at least willing to think outside the box to find an answer to their head coaching question. To that end, if the Jets are convinced to turn to college for interviews again, Riley might be a good fit.
During his OU tenure, Riley has fielded some of the most prolific scoring offenses in the college game, has given the NFL Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray as No. 1 overall picks (and Jalen Hurts as a second-round pick), and with the NFL moving more and more towards athletic, dual-threat QBs, Riley will end up with a big-league job sooner rather than later.
- Current job: Offensive coordinator, New England Patriots
- Head coaching experience? Yes, Denver Broncos
McDaniels’ last head coaching tenure with the Broncos was an unmitigated disaster, and his second crack at being the head man of an organization … actually didn’t happen. Still, he’s a hot name for head coaching vacancies and will likely end up as a head coach again sooner rather than later.
As an OC, McDaniels has done well enough to get the most out of talent on the offensive side of the ball, with his offenses ranking in the top five in points scored in eight of 13 years as an offensive coordinator in the NFL. That’s a pretty solid resume, all things considered.
While there’s some speculation that McDaniels is sticking with Bill Belichick and the Patriots because he’s been guaranteed the head coaching gig in New England once Belichick hangs up the sweater, making a move within the division might not be out of the question if Belichick wants to coach for the next 50-60 years. (Relax, NFL fans. Only partially joking.)
- Current job: Defensive coordinator, New York Jets
- Head coaching experience? Yes, Buffalo Bills (2003-05), Interim HC Cleveland Browns (2018)
If (read as: when) the Jets show Adam Gase the door, Jets DC Gregg Williams is going to be slapped with the interim tag once again. He got the most out of the Browns as head coach a few years ago when Hue Jackson was canned, leading them to a 5-3 record over the last eight games of the season.
It might be Williams’ last, good chance at earning a HC job in the NFL, and he’ll most likely get a head start once Gase gets shown the door. But Williams hasn’t had long stays anywhere he’s been in his career, and his lone full-time HC experience as Bills head coach in the early 2000s wasn’t anything special. It would be a risky hire that banks on attitude and experience, but not really a forward move.