NY Jets: Why Joe Douglas could limit the team’s head coach options

NY Jets (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
NY Jets (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

The NY Jets franchise is entrusting general manager Joe Douglas with its future.

The NY Jets have begun the process of finding the 20th head coach of the green and white. They are, in the words of general manager Joe Douglas, “casting a very wide net” to find a new leader.

It’s all too familiar territory for a franchise that has always been in a constant state of flux. One of the hallmarks in the teams’ history is how unconventional they’ve been through all these years.

The hire of Joe Douglas as the team’s general manager, only after a head coach was already in place, further illustrates the Jets’ franchise’s unorthodox nature.

The Jets are course-correcting two years after Joe Douglas was appointed as the head of the teams’ football operations. Better late than never, and the absolutely right approach in the Jets’ search for a head coach.

However, the timing and setup could limit the franchise’s options in who they can lure to become the next head coach.

There’s an old saying that goes, “You can’t understand someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.” For the sake of this argument, let’s do that. Let’s presume that we are a coach that is being courted by Joe Douglas and the NY Jets.

Let’s weigh the positives and negatives.

Those who see the position of Jets head coach in a favorable light will point out that the team has tons of cap space and draft capital and beyond the trappings and financial rewards of being successful in the world’s media capital.

There is also the lure and challenge of bringing success to a star-crossed franchise like the Jets.

The naysayers will advise a prospective coach to look for other career options besides the Jets. After all, there are several other enticing options currently available in the NFL.

Many Jets detractors will point to the team’s lack of overall building blocks and talent. Others will point to the franchise’s poor history and the shaky track record of Jets’ ownership. These are all valid concerns.

But the ultimate drawback to becoming the head coach of the NY Jets Jets is uncertainty, and it’s all tied into Joe Douglas.

Let me explain. The Jets and Joe Douglas are casting a wide net in their head coaching search, but the position is not one size fits all. The truth is that while the net is large, the bait is small and will have very few takers.

Here’s why.

The NY Jets’ head coach search is more limited than at first glance

Whomever, the Jets choose as their next head coach will have to work in lock-step with Joe Douglas in molding the team. The next head coach of the Jets will be an extension of Douglas and will have to make the players he chooses work.

So the best course for the Jets is to find someone who has ultimate faith in Joe Douglas and his decision making. But here’s the rub, can a new head coach have faith that Jets ownership will stay the course with Joe Douglas beyond 2021 and past 2022?

There’s always uncertainty when it comes to the coaching profession. After all, there’s no such thing as assurances or guarantees (beyond the money). The only thing that can save your job is winning. However, what happens if the Jets go 3-13 or worse next season?

Will Joe Douglas have the same level of power or faith within the organization? And ultimately, at that point, should he? Especially if Douglas does a poor job addressing the quarterback situation and capitalizing on the team’s cap space and draft choices.

Whoever accepts the position of head coach with the Jets will choose the job based on wanting to work with Joe Douglas, and that coach will have to feel secure that Douglas is going to remain the team’s GM for the next couple of seasons at the bare minimum.

Because if Douglas is fired after the 2021 season, a new GM will be brought on board, and the Jets will be back to square one.

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More importantly, the coach that is hired will be on borrowed time because the new general manager will either be forced to work with him or cut bait and pick his own head coach. Any new general manager worth his weight in gold will make that demand if they take on the position.

As a result, if you are a hot coaching candidate like Eric Bieniemy, Brian Daboll, or Arthur Smith, or even a college coach like Pat Fitzgerald or Matt Campbell, there’s a strong chance that you pass on the Jets if you have other options in place simply because the Jets position provides too much uncertainty.

In theory, coaching candidates with prior ties to Joe Douglas make the most sense. Names like Jim Caldwell, David Shaw, and Don “Wink” Martindale. These coaches all have ties to Douglas, but all of a sudden, that vast and wide net isn’t what it’s cut out to be.

Perhaps a young, unproven coach is willing to take the bait, or maybe even a veteran coach who wants back in the limelight might, but most coaches with no history with Joe Douglas will make a different career choice.

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The next head coach of the NY Jets will not only be taking on the great challenge of making the Jets relevant again but will do so by betting his entire future on Joe Douglas.