The New York Jets start the season 0-4 with an undesirable quarterback carousel that simply doesn't yield positive results. Incompletions. Interceptions. Embarrassment.
The media badgers Rex Ryan.
The Gang Green defense isn't what it once was.
By November, New York is 2-7, essentially out of playoff contention.
The media badgers Ryan more. He's fed up. Disgusted. So are the Jets fans and, most importantly, owner Woody Johnson.
At season's end, the Jets are 4-12, and have a top-five draft selection.
Rex Ryan, after two consecutive AFC title game berths gave way to three straight playoff-less seasons, is fired.
Just a hypothetical, people. A hypothetical.
If all that—or a similar catastrophe—occurs, who should the Jets hire as their next head coach?
Kevin Sumlin has ascended the college football ranks with a new-age, pass-predicated offensive attack that highlights the spread formation.
His Houston Cougar teams never ranked outside of the top 5 in passing yards per game in the entire country during his stint there from 2008 to 2011. Twice they lead the led the nation in that category, (per CFBStats.com).
His 2012 was well-documented, as redshirt freshman Johnny Manziel led the Aggies to an 11-2 record and won the Heisman Trophy. Sumlin's squadron beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa and demolished a storied Oklahoma Sooners program in the Cotton Bowl, 41-13.
If Manziel isn't suspended by the NCAA for signing autographs for money in the offseason, Texas A&M should field one of the most explosive and exciting-to-watch offenses in college football this season.
In that case, Sumlin would be on the radar of many NFL teams in the market for a new coach.
A Sumlin-Manziel reunion in New York would be, well, chaotic, but after years of ineptitude on offense, don't be surprised if the Jets look for an offensive mastermind like Sumlin.
David Shaw finds himself in a similar position to that of Sumlin to start the season, and he very well be in a comparable position in January.
The former Stanford assistant was named head coach after Jim Harbaugh was hired by the San Francisco 49ers in 2011 and has done a marvelous job with the Cardinal ever since.
They went 11-2 in 2011 and lost to an Oklahoma State team led by Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon in the Fiesta Bowl. In 2012, Stanford went 12-2 and beat the Wisconsin Badgers in the Rose Bowl.
Shaw's teams have been blue-collar-esque on defense and have implemented a traditional run-heavy system with high tight end usage on offense.
Although he signed a "long-term extension" (per ESPN) in late December and appears to be comfortable in Palo Alto, there's a chance he could be lured to the NFL if Jets GM John Izdik offers a lucrative contract.
Darrell Bevell became the Seattle Seahawks offensive coordinator in 2011 when Pete Carroll was named the head coach and John Izdik was the VP of Football Administration.
That season, the Seahawks struggled offensively.
But in 2012, thanks to the emergence of Russell Wilson at quarterback, Bevell's offense became one of the most efficient units in the NFL.
According to Football Outsiders, Seattle finished with the sixth-most yards and seventh-most points per drive.
With Wilson healthy, the Seahawks should field one of the league's most balanced attacks once again. If so, don't be surprised if Izdik gives his old colleague—who's never been a head coach at any level but has been an NFL assistant since 2000—a call to lead Gang Green out of the Rex Ryan Era.
Greg Roman has been Jim Harbaugh's right-hand man in San Francisco with the 49ers, and his scheme has worked wonders in the two years he's been the team's offensive coordinator.
In 2011, Alex Smith threw for over 3,000 yards in the first year of his career and had a league-low 1.1 interception percentage.
The 49ers narrowly missed out on a Super Bowl berth.
Last year, San Francisco finished ninth in points per drive, and we all know about Colin Kaepernick's explosion during the last half of the regular season and in the playoffs.
Roman's philosophy, that combines established, old-school principals with new-age pistol and the read-option would be welcomed by the previously offensively stagnant New York Jets.
Jay Gruden has been a hot head-coaching candidate for a few years now, but he'll man the sidelines as the Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator in 2013.
The Bengals experienced offensive growth from Gruden's first season as offensive coordinator in 2011, going from 20th in points per drive to 14th in points per drive last year.
Oh, and he has a brother to go to for head coaching advice if need be.
With another strong year—and another Bengals playoff berth—Gruden could one of the first head-coaching candidates John Izdik calls.
On the other side of the ball in Cincinnati, Mike Zimmer's fiery personality and sound defensive principals have led to a strong resume for the former NFL Assistant Coach of the Year.
The last two seasons under Zimmer's tutelage, the Bengals have finished in the Top 10 in points per drive allowed, according to Football Outsiders.
With the boisterous Rex Ryan gone in this hypothetical, it's somewhat unlikely that the Jets would look to hire a head coach with similar personality traits, but Zimmer's track record speaks for itself.
While animated, he's certainly a no-nonsense type of coach.
Yes, Dana Holgorson.
He was Geno Smith's head coach at West Virginia.
Together, the Mountaineers accumulated some incredible offensive numbers. Holgorson's club was 10th in the country in passing yards in 2012 and finished 6th in that category in 2011, according to CFBStats.com.
Though the Big East and Big 12 aren't known for stingy defense, Smith threw for more than 8,500 yards in his final two seasons under Holgorson with 73 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.
Sure, Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey helped, but Holgorson has a reputation as an eccentric, offensive guru.
If Izdik wants to move forward with Smith at quarterback in 2014, pairing him with Holgorson could work.
As usual, Bill Cowher and Jon Gruden would likely be rumored as head-coaching possibilities for the Jets.
But with well-paid media positions, jobs with far less pressure than being an NFL team's head coach, they'll likely stay off the sidelines.
One would have to expect these two would only jump at an opportunity to coach a team not in rebuilding mode which would provide general manager-type control over the personnel decisions.