I applaud the fact that the New York Jets are doing their due-diligence in interviewing a variety of potential head coach candidates. However, if Bill Cowher said no, the Giants brilliant defensive coordinator, Steve Spagnuolo, should be at the top of the wish list.
After the success of first year head coaches: John Harbaugh, Mike Smith and Tony Sparano; the trend in the NFL is to hire top young assistant coaches. Spags showed how talented he is during the team's miraculous victory over the then-undefeated, New England Patriots. Spags' defense made life miserable for Tom Brady and the dynamic offense that the Patriots featured last season.
Spagnuolo, a disciple of Eagles legendary defensive coordinator Jim Johnson, was highly sought after last season by the Washington Redskins. He came close to accepting an offer to be the Redskins next head coach but ultimately decided to return to Giants, who made him the highest paid coordinator in the game.
Spagnuolo has a great understanding of the game. His defensive philosophy centers around putting pressure on the passer both from the edges and through creative blitzing schemes. This enables the secondary to be aggressive in single coverage.
The Giants players love playing for him. He is fiery and wears his emotions on his sleeves unlike Coach Mangini's stoic demeanor, which rubbed a lot of fans and media the wrong way. Most of the Jets players didn't hate Mangini but they didn't seem to play their hardest for him, as evidenced by their inexplicable late season collapse.
Spags is the type of coach that players will bust their behinds for and who will fire a struggling team up.
While the Jets have been running a 3-4 defense for the past three seasons, a transition to the 4-3 base defense is not as big a deal as some might think.
Outside linebackers: Calvin Pace, Bryan Thomas and Vernon Gholston are all former 4-3 defensive ends. They are versatile and can rush from the down stance or standing up in a blitz package. A move back to a 4-3 defense might benefit Gholston the most who was a huge bust in his rookie year after being selected No. 6 overall in the 2008 draft out of Ohio State.
The front four can consists of Pace and Thomas at defensive end with Gholston rotating in. Kris Jenkins and Shaun Ellis can play defensive tackle with C.J. Mosley and Sione Pouha as the backups. That's a pretty formidable front four. David Harris, Eric Barton and potential free agent signing/draft pick X are at linebacker. And of course, Kerry Rhodes and Pro Bowler, Darelle Revis are in the secondary.
If they find a good third linebacker, a good No. 2 cornerback and a consistent strong safety; that defense has a chance to be a top 10 unit under Spagnuolo.
Another important quality that Spags possesses is that he knows what the pressure in New York is like. Not alot of people remember but the Giants struggled at the beginning of last season. The defense wasn't playing well thus leaving many to question Spagnuolo's hiring and fans were even calling for his job.
Obviously, that did not phase Spagnuolo and the rest is history. Now he is beloved in New York. Hiring him would bring back some credibility to this cursed franchise. New York won't intimidate him.
There are bigger problems for whoever the next head coach of the Jets is. The most glaring one is the Brett Favre situation and the offense in general. It will be interesting to see how the next coach handles this situation.
I'm hoping that the next head coach is Steve Spagnuolo.
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