NY Jets: Ranking the 9 candidates interviewed for the head coach job

NY Jets (Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images)
NY Jets (Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images) /
NY Jets
NY Jets /

NY Jets Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The NY Jets have interviewed nine candidates for their head coach position so far.

The NY Jets‘ coaching search is heating up as the days go by. And by this point, we seem to have a clearer picture of who the team is considering to be their next head coach.

At the time of writing, nine candidates have held virtual interviews with the organization while two have been flown in for in-person interviews. But really, the job could feasibly go to any of these candidates.

General manager Joe Douglas and the Jets have kept things very secretive — a welcome change of pace from previous regimes. Because of that, it’s impossible to accurately predict the direction the Jets might take.

But from an overall attractiveness standpoint, we can identify which of the nine candidates are best fit for the position.

The rumors surrounding San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh have been swirling over the last two days. Now, it appears as though the Jets are seriously considering Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith for the job.

But who is the best fit? Which candidates are the most appealing?

We did our best to rank all nine possible (known) candidates in order of who we feel is best for the job opening. With that, let’s take a look at the order we came up with.

Next: 1. No. 9 - 7

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NY Jets /

NY Jets

9. NY Jets HC Candidate: Aaron Glenn, DB Coach, New Orleans Saints

Aaron Glenn was probably the most surprising name to pop up on the Jets’ wishlist this offseason. The former Jets cornerback is a rising defensive assistant for the New Orleans Saints, but few expected his name to be associated with head-coaching rumors so soon.

Glenn has been coaching since 2014 and has been with the Saints since 2016, but going from defensive backs coach to NFL head coach would admittedly be a significant leap.

He’s helped develop young defensive backs such as Marshon Lattimore and Marcus Williams and gotten career years out of players like Ken Crawley, but it feels too early for Glenn to become a head coach.

For that reason, he’s probably the most unlikely hire on this list. And it would be a total shot in the dark decision if the Jets went in this direction.

8. NY Jets HC Candidate: Marvin Lewis, Former Cincinnati Bengals Head Coach

For fans looking for NFL experience, look no further than former Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis. Lewis spent 16 years coaching the Bengals to their most successful era of football in team history.

He helped lead the team to the postseason in five consecutive seasons and seven times in total, but his inability to win in the playoffs ultimately scarred his legacy.

Lewis deserves a lot more credit than he gets for the work he did in Cincinnati, but you can’t help but feel that this would be an underwhelming hire. At 62-years-old, it’s fair to wonder if Lewis’ best days are behind him, and his postseason failures will be an obstacle to overcome.

Lewis would be much more appealing in a defensive coordinator role at this stage, although his experience and proven leadership will be appealing to some teams.

Not the best fit for the Jets, however.

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7. NY Jets HC Candidate: Brandon Staley, defensive coordinator, Los Angeles Rams

When Sean McVay made the controversial decision to replace the well-respected Wade Phillips with the unproven Brandon Staley this past offseason, many were quick to criticize. But one year later, it’s clear the move has panned out.

Dubbed “the Sean McVay of defense,” Staley has revitalized a Rams defense that had talent, but needed an extra boost. Staley has led Jalen Ramsey to his best season in years and gotten fantastic play out of afterthoughts such as Darious Williams and Troy Hill.

He’s been highly praised for his defensive scheme and in-game adjustments, but much like a few other candidates on this list, it still feels a bit early for him.

Staley’s only been in the NFL since 2017 meaning that his connections are few and far between. There would be legitimate concerns about the offensive staff he could build.

He’s an interesting option, but the Jets could likely do better.

Next: 2. No. 6 and No. 5

NY Jets (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
NY Jets (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

6. NY Jets HC Candidate: Eric Bieniemy, offensive coordinator, Kansas City Chiefs

I’m admittedly lower on Eric Bieniemy than most. The long-tenured Chiefs assistant has been on the cusp of receiving a head coaching position for the past few years now and it appears all but certain that he’ll get one eventually.

But there are reasons he hasn’t gotten a job to this point. His lack of play-calling duties, his inexperience developing quarterbacks (many point to Mike Kafka for that), and his reported poor interviews have held him back thus far.

All are valid criticisms whether fans want to admit it or not. That said, it’s hard to ignore the success he’s had with Kansas City’s offense. While he doesn’t call plays, Bieniemy is an instrumental part of the Chiefs’ offensive game-planning.

There are legitimate concerns about Bieniemy’s ability to be a head coach, but there are also plenty of reasons why he could be a success. Ultimately, he’s a question mark.

5. NY Jets HC Candidate: Arthur Smith, offensive coordinator, Tennessee Titans

Arthur Smith is considered by many to be one of the brightest young offensive minds in the game. Since taking over as the Titans’ offensive coordinator in 2019, he’s managed to completely revolutionize the team’s offense.

He almost single-handedly saved the career of Ryan Tannehill and he’s transformed Derrick Henry from talented, but underutilized running back into the best back in football. It’s no surprise that Henry has managed two consecutive 1,500-yard campaigns under Smith’s watch.

But for all his offensive success, there are concerns about Smith’s ability to fill that “CEO-type” coach that the Jets are searching for. Little has been said about his leadership qualities and his personality has been described as rather dull.

None of that means he won’t be a good NFL head coach. But it does mean that you’ll be taking a chance on his personality clicking with players.

Smith has been brought back for a second interview in-person and that meeting will likely go a long way toward selling the Jets’ brass on his unproven persona.

Next: 3. No. 4 and No. 3

NY Jets
NY Jets /

NY Jets

4. NY Jets HC Candidate: Joe Brady, offensive coordinator, Carolina Panthers

This would be the biggest “swing for the fences” hire on the list. Joe Brady is likely the most unproven candidate the Jets have interviewed having been in the NFL for just one season.

A year ago, he was helping lead LSU to one of the best offenses in college football history as the school’s passing game coordinator. One year later, and he’s an NFL head-coaching candidate.

Brady’s resume of success speaks for itself. He helped transform Joe Burrow from a middling college starter into a Heisman winner and No. 1 overall pick. He helped develop the likes of Justin Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase.

But at just 31-years-old and with very limited NFL experience, he’d be a major risk. Would that risk be worth it? It’s impossible to say for sure.

Joe Brady would be an exciting, albeit risky hire. But it’s one that would certainly energize the fanbase.

Must Read. NY Jets: Grading the 2020 NFL Draft class after one season

3. NY Jets HC Candidate: Matt Eberflus, defensive coordinator, Indianapolis Colts

Matt Eberflus has flown somewhat under-the-radar this coaching cycle, but he’s someone Jets fans should be paying close attention to. A highly-regarded leader, Eberflus has been coaching in the NFL since 2009 and has been the Colts’ defensive coordinator since 2018.

With Indianapolis, he’s arguably done more with less talent than any other candidate on this list. He’s helped lead the Colts to a top-10 run defense the last two years and his unit finished second in takeaways in 2020.

Prior to Eberflus’ arrival, the Colts’ defense ranked 30th in the NFL. They’ve yet to finish worse than 18th since his hiring.

Having worked under the likes of Nick Saban, Frank Reich, and Gary Pinkel, Eberflus has plenty of experience and has likely made some respectable connections during his time in the NFL.

He’s an experienced coordinator with leadership traits who could probably bring in a decent offensive staff. Eberflus is someone who should be receiving more recognition.

Next: 4. No. 2 and No. 1

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NY Jets /

NY Jets Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

2. NY Jets HC Candidate: Brian Daboll, offensive coordinator, Buffalo Bills

Brian Daboll is someone who has reportedly been high on the Jets’ coaching wishlist for a while now. And while they haven’t gotten the chance to interview him in-person yet, best believe they’ll jump at the opportunity once/if it presents itself.

Daboll joined the Bills’ staff in 2018 after spending nearly two decades as an offensive assistant elsewhere including stints at Alabama, in Kansas City, and even with the Jets as their quarterbacks coach from 2007-2008.

His work in developing Josh Allen has not gone unnoticed and it’s one of his biggest selling points this offseason. On top of that, Daboll is a no-nonsense coach who just feels like an ideal Joe Douglas candidate.

His attitude, experience, and work developing quarterbacks make him one of the most appealing candidates this coaching cycle. And if his Bills fall short in the postseason this weekend, don’t be surprised to see the Jets immediately bring him in for an in-person interview.

More from The Jet Press

1. NY Jets HC Candidate: Robert Saleh, defensive coordinator, San Francisco 49ers

The Jets appeared to be on the verge of hiring Robert Saleh earlier in the week before the highly-sought-after 49ers defensive coordinator ultimately left Florham Park without a new contract. But that doesn’t mean all hope is lost.

Saleh is one of the hottest names on the coaching market having received interest from six of the seven teams searching for a new head coach, with the lone exception being the Houston Texans.

The 41-year-old has helped captain one of the NFL’s best defenses over the last two years and he managed to do so in 2020 despite an unprecedented string of injuries.

He’s become just as known for his boisterous, animated coaching style as he has for his defensive chops. Make no mistake about it, Saleh is as strong of a candidate as there is this offseason.

Next. NY Jets build around Sam Darnold in 7-round 2021 NFL Mock Draft

The potential of him bringing with him a young offensive assistant such as Mike McDaniel or Mike LaFleur pushes him to No. 1 on our list.