The NY Jets must avoid the undeniable temptation of hiring Jim Harbaugh this offseason.
The NY Jets are desperate for a complete coaching staff makeover. And this offseason, when the team undoubtedly looks to replace the incumbent Adam Gase, one of the most high-profile options on the market could be Jim Harbaugh.
On the surface, Harbaugh is undoubtedly a very intriguing name.
An experienced head coach with Super Bowl experience and someone who found a great deal of success with the San Francisco 49ers in the early 2010s, Harbaugh will certainly have his fair share of supporters.
With a career NFL coaching record of 44-19-1, Harbaugh’s .695 win percentage is higher than even the legendary Bill Belichick’s. He’s never even had a losing season coaching at any level since 2008 when he was the head coach at Stanford.
A program he turned into a 12-win team in just two years.
There’s a lot to like about Harbaugh. But for as much as he’s accomplished, there’s a reason he finds himself in the situation he’s in now.
Harbaugh didn’t leave San Francisco on good terms. In fact, his departure had little to do with the team’s on-field performance.
Following a 12-win 2013 season, there were rumors that the 49ers would be searching for a new coach in the offseason regardless of the outcome of the season. That proved to be true as after an 8-8 2014 campaign, the 49ers agreed to mutually part ways with Harbaugh.
The reason for this abrupt departure was an ongoing struggle for power between Harbaugh and general manager Trent Baalke. Harbaugh found success as a head coach, but he alienated the very organization that he almost helped lead to the promised land.
And as a result, he was shown the door quicker than anyone could have expected.
Shortly after, he now-infamously returned to the college ranks to coach at his alma mater, Michigan. It was one of the most notable coaching hires in recent college football history, but his stay in Ann Arbor has bordered on disastrous.
No, it’s not that Harbaugh hasn’t won games at Michigan — he’s won eight or more in each season and never failed to qualify for a bowl game. But the Wolverines have consistently come up short in important matchups.
Michigan hasn’t won a bowl game since Harbaugh’s first year with the program. They’ve lost four straight bowl appearances, haven’t won a conference title under Harbaugh, and have consistently fallen short against rivals.
Harbaugh is one of just a handful of coaches who enter the 2020 season with two or fewer years remaining on their contract. And after an embarrassing upset loss to Michigan State this past week — another rivalry game lost — many believe that 2020 will be Harbaugh’s last season with Michigan.
He’s failed to develop young quarterback prospects — Shea Patterson is a notable example that comes to mind — and proven that he can’t win big games. All in all, his tenure in Michigan has been a black mark on his coaching legacy.
Perhaps he can still be a good head coach in the NFL. And perhaps he finds success with another organization as soon as next year. But that organization should not and cannot be the NY Jets.
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Jim Harbaugh would be a bad fit for the NY Jets.
Harbaugh is reminiscent of Gase in that they both have encountered power struggles in the past. Each has a vision for their team and will be damned if anyone gets in their way of achieving that vision.
They don’t work hand-in-hand with the front office. They want to be the front office. Put bluntly, they’re control freaks.
This format could work for some teams. Case in point, the aforementioned Bill Belichick has found plenty of success as both the general manager and head coach of the New England Patriots.
But on the other end of the spectrum, you have Bill O’Brien in Houston or Adam Gase in Miami. Or Adam Gase with the Jets, for that matter.
When the Jets hired Joe Douglas to be their GM in June of 2019, they did so with the intent to give him full reigns to lead this organization out of the depths of despair that they have inhabited for far too long.
To this point, Adam Gase has hindered that progress. Christopher Johnson has hindered that progress. Hiring a person like Harbaugh would continue the trend of Douglas not having full control.
The Jets don’t need a GM as their next head coach. They don’t need someone who’s going to dip their hands in personnel management and heavily-influence offseason transactions.
They need someone who is a leader of men, an X’s and O’s expert, and most importantly a good football coach.
Harbaugh has proven that he isn’t one to share power. And under the Jets’ current hierarchy where the head coach and GM both report to the owner, that’s exactly what he’d be asked to do.
This is Joe Douglas’ team. The Jets hired Douglas with the expectation that they were getting a highly-regarded front office executive who can construct a roster worthy of competing for a Super Bowl.
Let him do that. Remove the handcuffs and give him the chance to build a winner. Don’t muddy the waters with a flashy, controversial coaching hire.
Jim Harbaugh may be a successful NFL head coach, but the Jets should stay as far away from him as possible this offseason.