With the Jets now officially eliminated from the playoffs, let the rampant speculation on who will be Rex Ryan's and Mike Tannenbaum's replacements commence.
I, myself, honestly don't think those guys will wind up leaving the Jets, especially if New York wins out (which they should do considering the remaining competition). The only change in staff I could see happening is New York replacing Tony Sparano as offensive coordinator with Norv Turner (assuming Turner is fired from San Diego), but it's still fun to speculate as to what could be better than Ryan and Tannenbaum?
What could wind up saving the New York Jets from themselves, making them the beast of the AFC East for the next decade?
Let's take a look at some of the combinations of coaches and general managers that would return the Jets to a glory that hasn't been seen since the days of Joe Namath.
Omar Khan is currently the director of business and football operations for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He was hired by Pittsburgh as a capologist in 2001, and in that time he has helped build teams that have won three AFC Championships and two Super Bowls.
The Steelers approach to drafting players and deciding whom to sign has been a model in the NFL over the past decade and one that the Jets would be smart to implement by bringing on Khan as the general manager.
His possible head coach is another former member of Pittsburgh's staff and current head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, Ken Whisenhunt. Whisenhunt led the Cardinals to two division championships and a Super Bowl appearance. However in recent years he's been mired in bad drafts and an inability to find consistency at the quarterback position since the retirement of Kurt Warner.
Whisenhunt will likely take the fall for the Cardinals shortcomings in recent years, but he's still a very good head coach. Pairing him with Khan with the Jets would put him in a better situation when it comes to talent evaluation and would allow him to bring in a culture similar to that of the Pittsburgh Steelers—a culture which, at this point, represents the complete opposite of the Jets' current environment (with completely opposite results over the long term, as well).
Whisenhunt is also a former player of the Jets, playing running back for them from 1991-93.
The answer to the Jets problems could be a lot closer than they think, maybe even across the hall at MetLife Stadium.
Let's start with general manager candidate Marc Ross, who's currently the director of college scouting for the New York Giants. Ross was named to that position with the Giants in 2007, as well as being put in charge of the team's draft.
What would follow would be some of the NFL's best drafts of the past five years. Under Ross' watch, the Giants selected Kenny Phillips, Mario Manningham, Hakeem Nicks, Will Beatty, Jason Pierre-Paul, Linval Joseph and Prince Amukamara.
The Giants culture is one the Jets should want to emulate (and bring in the same success as the Giants), and having the man in charge of selecting the Giants players would be a great start.
For head coach, I would choose someone from the Giants, defensive coordinator Perry Fewell. Fewell already has seven games of head-coaching experience, going 3-4 as interim head coach of the Buffalo Bills in 2009. He was let go when the Bills decided to let the entire staff go, so that really can't be held against him.
Fewell has a history of coaching great defenses with the Giants and Bills and could bring the Jets defense back to the levels they were at two years ago. With the right offensive coordinator, Fewell could prove to be a good head coach, provided he's given the chance.
But remember, this is a head coach who led the Eagles to the playoffs nine times, won the NFC East in six of those years, took them to five NFC Championship Games and made one Super Bowl appearance in the span of 11 seasons prior to their 2011 "Dream Team."
Odds are Reid won't be unemployed for long if Philadelphia fires him, unless he chooses to take a one-year break from coaching. He would work well with the Jets and has already shown the ability to handle a rough media that's gunning for him every day.
Reid would likely want to handle most of the personnel decisions, a power that he currently has some of in Philadelphia. He could look to bring in his current director of pro personnel, Louis Riddick.
Reid does develop quarterbacks well, something that is obviously needed with the Jets. That alone would make this a great hire.
Sometimes all a coach needs is a change of scenery. Afterall, it worked well with the Giants when they brought in Tom Coughlin.
John Dorsey currently serves as Green Bay's director of football operations, a title he's held since May of 2012. Prior to that, he was Green Bay's director of college scouting from 2000-2012.
In that time the Packers have put together some great drafts that have included Scott Wells, Jordy Nelson, Nick Barnett, Greg Jennings, B.J. Raji, Clay Matthews, James Jones, Randall Cobb and, of course, Aaron Rodgers.
Notice the talent brought in on both sides of the ball. Dorsey helped scout all of those players.
As for his head coach, a good pick would be his former head coach in Green Bay and current Miami Dolphins offensive coordinator, Mike Sherman.
Sherman's time in Green Bay is largely forgotten, despite the fact that he has the second-best winning percentage in Packers history at .663 (behind only Vince Lombardi) and led them to four consecutive playoff berths (three of them being division championships) from 2001-2004.
Sherman himself has an eye for talent, as he is the primary architect behind a Texas A&M squad that went 10-2 this season, recruiting possible NFL first-round picks in offensive tackles Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews, as well as defensive end Damontre Moore. Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel was also recruited by Sherman.
One Sherman recruit at Texas A&M is Von Miller, who is currently a candidate for Defensive Player of the Year, while Ryan Tannehill seems to be the Dolphins quarterback of the future.
Looking at the Miami offense, one might not think that Sherman's head coaching material. However you can only do so much with what he has around him (which isn't a lot).
But teamed up with his former Green Bay associate could give him the tools to make it work in New York.
ESPN seems to love ripping the Jets, and this was seen in bloody detail following their Monday Night Football loss to the Titans, when the analysts from the worldwide leader took their turns ripping the Jets to shreds.
But ESPN also employs a man who could be the NFL's biggest free agent of 2013: Bill Polian.
Polian has six NFL Executive of the Year Awards under his belt and is responsible for building the Buffalo Bills' Super Bowl teams of the early-'90s. Then he helped build a Carolina Panthers team from scratch into a squad that went 12-4 in 1996 and won the NFC West in only the team's second year of existence. (Yes, the Panthers were once in the West, as were the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons; it didn't really make any sense to me either, considering the Arizona Cardinals were in the NFC East at the time).
His most successful run would come in Indianapolis, where he built the winningest team of the 2000s thanks to making the right decision on which quarterback to take No. 1 overall in 1998, his first draft with the Colts.
Those numbers will be the reason why any team interested in his services will attempt to coax him away from the comforts of working for ESPN and back to the NFL to run their team.
The Jets should be one of those teams.
As for the head coach, keep this in mind: he won a division with Dom Capers as his head coach, then won the AFC with Jim Caldwell. That tells me he could work with just about any head coach he chooses to hire.