The search for the New York Jets' next head coach has begun. Team owner Woody Johnson confirmed Monday the firings of current head coach Rex Ryan and general manager John Idzik, as well as the hirings of former top NFL personnel executives Charley Casserly and Ron Wolf as consultants to sift through prospective candidates for the vacant positions.
“We’re in the win business and we’re not winning, so I thought this was something I had to do,” Johnson said at a press conference Monday. “I didn’t get into football to do this, it’s a necessary step for me to do this. I had to do it, and I thought it was in the best interest of the team to do it.”
Johnson’s official announcement confirmed what many considered an inevitability ahead of the conclusion of the 2014 NFL regular season: the end of the Ryan era in New York. The Jets stumbled their way to a 4-12 record, missing the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season. The search began before Ryan was officially fired -- the 52-year-old cleaned out his desk ahead of Week 17 amid rumors that Jets officials had already reached out to prospective replacements. The team even reached out to Ryan’s agent, Jimmy Sexton, about whether one of his other coach clients might be interested in the job, Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer reported.
Ryan maintained one of the league’s best defenses throughout his tenure, but failed to build a consistent offensive attack or adequately develop young quarterbacks Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith during his six seasons with the franchise. He finished his tenure in New York with a 46-50 regular season record and a pair of AFC Championship appearances.
To replace him, Casserly and Wolf will look for a head coach candidate who can combine Ryan’s leadership skills with an ability to successfully “manage” every aspect of the team, Pro Football Talk notes. A look at some of the head coaching candidates who have emerged as potential Ryan replacements can be found below.
Dan Quinn, Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator: Under Quinn, the Seahawks' vaunted "Legion of Boom" defense was the NFL's top-ranked defense in each of the last two years and spearheaded the team's dominant run to the Super Bowl last season. In addition, Quinn used to be an assistant coach at Hofstra University, where the Jets once held their training camp. The Jets will be one of several teams who will attempt to pry him away from the Seahawks this offseason. In fact, New York has already requested permission to interview him, per CBS Sports.
Darrell Bevell, Seattle Seahawks offensive coordinator: The less-heralded of Seattle's coordinators, Bevell has garnered praise in recent years for his role in the development of quarterback Russell Wilson and the Seahawks' stable of underappreciated wide receivers. Prior to his tenure in Seattle, Bevell led a powerful Minnesota Vikings offense that reached the NFC Championship game in 2009. Bevell is considered a top candidate for the Jets job, according to the New York Times.
Hue Jackson, Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator: Jackson is an offensive mastermind and a well-known "quarterback whisperer," a moniker that likely appeals to a Jets franchise that has seen the likes of Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith under center in recent years. Jackson has coached in Cincinnati since 2012 and took over the team's offense in 2014. Prior to that, he served as head coach of the Oakland Raiders in 2011, but was fired after a front office dispute. The Jets have already shown "strong interest" in hiring Jackson, a source told NBC's Corey Griffin.
Adam Gase, Denver Broncos offensive coordinator: The 36-year-old coaching wunderkind has spent the last two seasons collaborating with quarterback Peyton Manning to run Denver's record-setting offense. Gase is untested as an NFL head coach, but has already coached in a Super Bowl and is considered a rising star in the league.
Todd Bowles, Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator: A longtime assistant for the Miami Dolphins, Philadelphia Eagles and Cardinals, Bowles finally entered the spotlight this season for his masterful control of Arizona's defense. Despite injuries to key starters such as Darnell Dockett and the season-long suspension of linebacker Daryl Washington, Bowles' defense led Arizona to an 11-5 record and a wild card berth in the playoffs.
Gary Kubiak, Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator: Considered one of the NFL's premier offensive minds, Kubiak spent eight largely successful years as head coach of the Houston Texans before a 2-14 campaign sealed his dismissal in 2013. He took over the Baltimore Ravens' offense this season, overcoming the suspension and release of running back Ray Rice to the tune of a 10-6 record and an AFC wild card berth. Kubiak has both the coaching experience and the offensive mind to jump to the front of the Jets' head coach search.
Jim Mora, UCLA head coach: A former head coach for the Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks, Mora is on Casserly’s short list and is considered a “very strong candidate” for the Jets’ vacant position, sources told CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora. Mora is a defensively minded coach with a 31-33 career record in the NFL. He’s coached at UCLA since 2012 and is also considered a leading candidate for the San Francisco 49ers’ head coach job.