Potential New York Jet Head Coaches: David Shaw

By Craig Hoffman

With the Jets at 2-8 and pretty much assured of their 4th straight season of not making the playoffs it sure seems like Rex Ryan is going to be fired. I am a huge Rex Ryan fan but even I have to admit that his game preparation and in-game decisions haven’t been great this season, and the lack of discipline that the team has shown falls back on him as does Geno Smith’s lack of development. With that, it isn’t too early to start looking at replacements and the 1st one on my list is head coach David Shaw of Stanford University.

Shaw is a football lifer that has coached at both the college and professional level, as well as being a major college player at Stanford, and the son of defensive back and assistant coach Willie Shaw. He has played and coached under some really good head coaches, including Bill Walsh and Dennis Green while he played at Stanford, Jim Harbaugh while he coached at Stanford, Jon Gruden as a quality control and quarterbacks coach in Oakland from 1998-2001, and Brian Billick while coaching quarterbacks and wide receivers for the Ravens from 2002-2004.

Despite learning from the master of the West Coast offense, Bill Walsh, and some of his disciples like Jon Gruden, Shaw prefers to run the ball as evidenced by the fact that his teams had over 500 carries each year that he was at Stanford as an offensive coordinator and then a head coach. Even in Andrew Luck’s 2010 and 2011 seasons, Stanford still ran the ball over 100 times more than they threw it and they definitely ran to set up high percentage passes. This is a key point because running the football to set up high percentage passes is what this Jets roster is built to do. Minimize your mistakes, complete more than 60% of your passes (Luck 2010, 2011 and Hogan in 2012 were over 70%) and average almost nine yards per pass attempt which means they also weren’t afraid to take shots down the field as well.

Nov 1, 2014; Eugene, OR, USA;Stanford Cardinal head coach David Shaw watches from the sideline in the second quarter against the Oregon Ducks at Autzen Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

Defensively they run a 3-4 defense in the mold of what the 49ers run under Harbaugh. Shaw was in Baltimore at the same time as Rex Ryan so his offense had to go against Ryan’s defense from 2002-2004 so I’m sure there is influence from there as well, although Stanford does not blitz as much. They are much happier to bring four pass rushers  and drop seven into coverage, but that may be a product of having to stop spread offenses in the Pac-12. The Jets defense he would inherit is flexible and could use a 3-4 or 4-3 and that would be dependent on who Shaw brought in as a defensive coordinator.

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Shaw is very media savvy and is usually on pre and post game shows after Stanford’s season is over and has done work for ESPN on the NFL Draft. He knows how to handle himself and comes off as very knowledgeable and informative. Shaw doesn’t seem to get too high or low and seems very polished so I don’t believe that New York would be too big for him. He’s beaten Notre Dame and Oregon twice (including holding #1 and Chip Kelly coached Oregon to 14 points in a 2012 victory) and won a Rose Bowl. His Stanford teams are known for being disciplined and clean. He runs a tighter ship than Rex Ryan but is still authentic and relatable enough that players like to play for him as well. All of these factors make him an ideal candidate for the Jets to look at.

David Shaw would definitely be at or near the top of a list of coaches I would look at if I were the Jets. Obviously you have to look at Jim Harbaugh and I’d also like to take a look at Gus Malzahn of Auburn and along with Shaw those would be my top three candidates for the Jets.