The Jets escaped Week 11 with dismal playoff hopes in the balance, but the green and white are flying nowhere fast, and an unexpected candidate could rise to overtake Rex Ryan this offseason.
Jon Gruden should replace Ryan as the head coach of the green and white when the latter is fired. Speculation has started to mount that the former head coach has serious interest in returning to the NFL.
CBS Sports.com reported last week that Gruden has been quietly assembling a coaching staff, although the head-coach-turned-commentator refutes those rumors, likely out of respect for ESPN, his current employer.
Gruden has been linked to a few teams, although the Jets remain absent from premature discussion.
Walter Football.com reports that Gruden would only return to coaching given the ideal situation—an opportunity to coach a large-market team.
The Jets definitely fit the bill of "large-market," but it remains to be seen if Gruden considers New York to be his quintessential scenario to re-enter the daunting depths of coaching in the NFL.
Gruden would be a perfect fit for the Jets, though, even if he doesn’t know it yet.
He's rugged—refusing to accept nonsense as a precursor to football. Gruden employs an in-your-face brand of coaching that is dictated on the football field instead of the press wire.
That collides with the Jets' pristine ability to dominate headlines, but hiring Gruden to right the ship would be a surefire approach to ending the habitual locker room tirades that seem to define the Jets.
Some would argue that the Jets have already taken a vigorous approach to building a stalwart coaching staff to eliminate such behavior, however.
Jets offensive coordinator Tony Sparano was chalked up as a bulldog when he was hired in favor of former OC Brian Schottenheimer last offseason.
Sparano was supposedly fearless and adamant. He was supposed to be the no-nonsense run-of-the-mill play-caller that the Jets so desperately needed to tame an out-of-control locker room and propel a stagnant offense.
None of that worked.
It doesn’t matter how it was scripted.
The Jets are a losing football team, and swift adjustments need to be made if this team expects to compete for a divisional championship next season.
The Jets still resemble the same band of overpaid and underachieving wannabe champions that self-imploded at the end of the 2011 season—losing their final three regular season games to complete a season-ending choke and commence an offseason of calamity, capped by the addition of Tim Tebow.
It's not that Gruden can flip the Jets into a championship contender on his own, but he can undoubtedly provide the leadership necessary to effectively run football's most embattled franchise.
Gruden doesn't simply boast a leader's mentality though.
He's an exceptional talent evaluator—a pivotal characteristic that has been deeply lacking throughout Ryan's tenure as head coach.
Ryan's ineptitude seeps through every facet of the team, steadily depleting the roster to the brink of collapse.
Defense is supposedly Ryan's fortitude, but the Jets rank 16th overall in that category.
Gruden can change that.
In seven seasons as the head coach for Tampa Bay (6-4), Gruden's defenses ranked outside of the Top 10 in total defense just once (2006).
The Jets need a stout defense to contend in the AFC and upend the perennial powerhouse that is otherwise known as the New England Patriots (7-3)
Ryan, who boasts a defense that has vastly underachieved, has proven to be a below-average game-schemer and a low-grade motivator.
It's not that the Jets are a bad football team. Instead, they're dysfunctional, and their defective head coach is immensely responsible.
There aren't a bounty of unyielding leaders left in the realm of professional football, especially in an age where the NFL Players' Association dominates exclusive rights to superiority.
The Jets need a fearless executor instead of a loud mouth.
Jon Gruden is the ideal candidate to seize the reigns and replace the most falsified head coach in the league.