10 Top Candidates to Replace Rex Ryan as New York Jets' Head Coach
There have been rumors throughout the 2012 season that New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan is on the hot seat. Recently, those flames have been fanned by rumors that Ryan would welcome a change of location unless the organization makes changes.
Odds are Ryan will not be going anywhere right now.
The more likely scenario is that general manager Mike Tannenbaum and offensive coordinator Tony Sparano will be the ones getting fired. Ryan has adamantly refuted all reports that he has any interest in leaving New York.
Nevertheless, whether by his choice or not, the possibility remains that Ryan will not be the Jets' head coach in 2013. In that case, there are a variety of potential head coaches on the market this offseason.
Here are the 10 best possible replacements that might be available.
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Various rumors have circulated that Gruden is considering a return to coaching. One possible hangup at a lot of locations is the amount of control he would likely want over player and personnel decisions. With the Jets potentially firing general manager Mike Tannenbaum, New York is a possible destination where Gruden could get the level of control he desires.
Gruden was the head coach of the Raiders from 1998 to 2001 and then the head coach of the Buccaneers from 2002 to 2008. He coached the Buccaneers to the only Super Bowl victory in their franchise's history after the 2002 season.
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Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid may be one of the best available candidates for a Jets coaching job. According to reports, Reid is expecting to be fired when the season ends, though his first choice of destination might be San Diego rather than New York.
If Reid is unable to win the head coaching job with the Chargers, New York is another option he should consider.
As a head coach, Reid has had far more success on the offensive side of the ball than the defensive side. Hiring Reid would imply a shift in the Jets' game philosophy. On the other hand, if Ryan were to be let go, a change in philosophy would probably be in order.
In 2012, Reid's Eagles were solid on offense, excepting their turnover issues.
Reid coached the Eagles to five NFC championship game appearances and a Super Bowl appearance. He has been with the Eagles since 1999 and is a respected coach within the community, despite the poor results over the past two seasons.
If the Jets' front office wants to maintain their team's defensive-minded philosophy, then Vic Fangio is arguably the best option.
Currently the defensive coordinator of the San Francisco 49ers, Fangio understands the type of football the Jets played successfully in 2010 and have tried to play during the past two seasons. The 2011 49ers were essentially the ideal version of what the Jets want to be (until an unlucky loss in the NFC championship game in overtime).
Fangio has extensive experience coaching in the NFL, primarily on the defensive side of the ball.
He has served as the defensive coordinator of the Carolina Panthers, Indianapolis Colts and San Francisco 49ers. He also served as an assistant coach for the Baltimore Ravens when Rex Ryan was their defensive coordinator.
A Fangio regime would likely be similar to a Rex Ryan regime. However, if Ryan ends up being fired as a PR sacrifice, then more of the same might be desirable.
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Gailey has also coached on the offensive side for the Denver Broncos, Pittsburgh Steelers, Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs. He served as head coach of the Dallas Cowboys for two seasons in the late '90s.
While Gailey has had trouble in Buffalo, he has not had a great roster to work with.
He has helped develop some of the Bills' offensive talent, including quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and running back C.J. Spiller. His offensive knowledge could make him a candidate in New York for either a head-coaching position or an offensive coordinator position.
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Chip Kelly—the mastermind behind the Oregon Ducks' offense and long-time college head coach—is looking to jump into the NFL in 2013. Kelly's creativity on offense is something the Jets have been lacking in the Schottenheimer and Sparano offensive eras.
Rumors have come out surrounding the Philadelphia Eagles, Cleveland Browns and Carolina Panthers regarding Kelly. If Rex Ryan were to leave the Jets, they would likely hop on that bandwagon.
Kelly was the offensive coordinator of the Ducks for two seasons before becoming their head coach in 2009. In his four years, the Ducks have had increased success, including a 45-7 regular-season record. They also won the Rose Bowl after the 2011 season.
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With Norv Turner's time as the head coach of the San Diego Chargers potentially coming to an end, New York might make sense as the next destination. Turner would reportedly be open to listening to both head coach and offensive coordinator offers. He is looking for places where "you have an opportunity to win and... coaches I've worked with and been around."
Turner has two years of experience as the Oakland Raiders head coach and six years of experience as the Chargers head coach.
After a successful first season in San Diego—wherein they reached the AFC championship game and fell to the undefeated New England Patriots—Turner has not been able to reproduce that success. The Chargers have missed the playoffs for the past three seasons, hence his questionable job status.
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If the Jets want to make a major change in philosophy and become an offense-oriented team, they can look at Tom Clements, the offensive coordinator of the Green Bay Packers.
Last year's offensive coordinator for the Packers Joe Philbin left to become the head coach of the Miami Dolphins. They have seen an improvement on offense and a decrease in the quality of their defensive, which is reasonable considering the shift in philosophy.
Perhaps Clements will be the next Green Bay coordinator to get such a promotion.
Clements was the offensive coordinator for the Buffalo Bills for two years and then served as the quarterbacks coach in Green Bay for the whole Aaron Rodgers era before this season. This year he has their offense firing on all cylinders despite the partial absence of star wide receiver Greg Jennings.
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Bruce Arians—the interim head coach for the Indianapolis Colts—has plenty of intriguing highlights on his resume. He was the quarterbacks coach for the Colts during the early parts of Peyton Manning's career. He was then offensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers before rejoining the Colts as offensive coordinator at the beginning of this season.
Due to head choach Chuck Pagano's absence, Arians has been the interim head coach for most of the Colts' successful 2012 season, a season that included the development of rookie quarterback Andrew Luck and a playoff berth after a 2-14 2011 season.
Arians has two Super Bowl rings from his time with the Steelers. With the return of Pagano, he may be looking for a real head-coaching position in 2013.
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Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy has made a name for himself over the past two years. He has been with Denver for four years. However, his last two allowed him to work with Tim Tebow and Peyton Manning.
In 2011, McCoy developed a new offense midseason for Tebow that did an impressive job of hiding Tebow's glaring weaknesses as a quarterback. McCoy then rebuilt the offense against him in 2012 for Peyton Manning.
With the tremendous success the Broncos are having this season, McCoy's name will increasingly show up in discussions about potential head-coaching positions. The real question is how much of the offense was designed by Peyton and how much was designed by McCoy himself. There is no way to truly know at the moment, so hiring McCoy would be somewhat of a gamble.
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Tony Sparano—the Jets' current offensive coordinator—is an unlikely option because he is more likely to be fired than Rex Ryan. However, if for whatever reason Ryan is fired and Sparano remains with the Jets, he might be considered as an option for head coach.
Sparano served as head coach of the Miami Dolphins for four seasons before coming to the Jets. He had mixed results. His best season was his first one in 2008, when he turned around the Dolphins and led them to their most successful season of this century. That season included an 11-5 record, the AFC East title and a playoff appearance, the only one of the past 11 years for Miami.
The 2008 Dolphins also tied the all-time record for biggest turnaround, going from 1-15 to 11-5 in Sparano's inaugural year. Sparano is not an ideal candidate for the Jets' head-coaching job, but after Ryan he is the most qualified internal man in the organization.