A quarter of the league is missing a head coach entering 2019. The New York Jets have assets, but are they the most attractive destination?
The New York Jets are looking for a new coach. This time, however, they have some company.
As the NFL celebrates its first weekend of playoff festivities, eight of its teams, an exact quarter of its contingents, are looking for new leaders to ensure they’re back in the tournament this time next season.
How does the Jets job compare to that of their fellow searchers?
8. Miami Dolphins
Stuck in the umpteenth year of the post-Dan Marino rebuild, the Dolphins have spent the past decade mired in mediocrity.
With the departure of Adam Gase (whom the Jets interviewed on Friday), the Dolphins are looking to start a full remodeling project, one that will likely move on from franchise quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Miami’s turbulent quarterback situation is a true outlier in the AFC East, home of Tom Brady and a pair of exciting rookies.
The rest of Miami’s roster is equally bland, making them the least attractive of the open jobs.
7. Denver Broncos
The Broncos will have a top ten pick to use this April, but the franchise’s situation could get murky really quick. A potential Bowlen family feud could create a standoff that lasts years.
There isn’t much more clarity on the field. While Denver has a young diamond in the rough talent in the form of undrafted rushing sensation Phillip Lindsay, John Elway is still looking for a Peyton Manning successor after Case Keenum became the latest failed experiment under center.
Further doubt reigns in the form of linebacker and Super Bowl 50 MVP Von Miller, who has been the subject of trade rumors at the onset of the offseason.
6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
For better or worse, the Buccaneers have made it clear that their future endeavors live and die on the arm of Jameis Winston. They could scare off some coaches seeking put their immediate mark on the team, but an offensive-minded mentor could lean toward Tampa to help steady Winston’s roller-coaster NFL career.
The Buccaneers also have a top-five draft pick to work with, though it’s undetermined which of their many needs will be fulfilled with the selection.
5. Arizona Cardinals
On paper, the Cardinals should rank higher on this list. After all, they have several proven names on their roster, a franchise quarterback to mold in Josh Rosen, and the top overall pick in April. But the firing of Steve Wilks is a sign of a franchise being far more impatient than it has any right to be.
The Cardinals are clearly in rebuild status, a situation perhaps best defined by the impending retirement of Larry Fitzgerald. The 3-13 campaign was indeed brutal, but that sign of desperation could cost Arizona an ideal candidate who would want to grow and develop talent over time.
4. Cincinnati Bengals
The AFC North got better in 2018, with the respective surges of the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens. Lost in the fold were the Bengals, who were finally driven to the unthinkable: ending the 16-year reign of Marvin Lewis.
While the divisional landscape is scary for the foreseeable future, the Bengals do have assets to work, like receiver A.J. Green. Just three years ago, this team was playoff mainstay. The right coach should be able to lead them back to the postseason quickly.
3. Green Bay Packers
The prospect of working with Aaron Rodgers for whatever prime he has left is extremely tantalizing. The Packers, however, have plenty of needs to fill, evidenced by the fact they’re sitting at home despite Rodgers’ prescience for the second consecutive year.
A lot of their cap is invested into Rodgers, who will likely have at least some input in the decision after his relationship with Mike McCarthy soured. Potential coaches would obviously love to work with Rodgers, but potentially playing second fiddle to the noted StateFarm salesman may scare some candidates off.
2. New York Jets
The Jets have the rare luxury of having a touted first-round name on each side of the ball. Quarterback Sam Darnold’s final quarter of the season has provided hope for the offense, while safety Jamal Adams headlines the next generation of defense.
These young talents are two brilliant lumps of clay for the next head coach to mold, and the cap space exceeding $100 million are two huge attraction for candidates to work with, but there’s no guarantee they’d have complete creative control. Jets Chairman/CEO Christopher Johnson remarked in his comments on Dec. 31 that he believes the system where the head coach reports and respond to both he and general manager Mike Maccaggnan is one that works and showed no intentions of moving on from it.
1. Cleveland Browns
Fresh off what’s likely the greatest 7-8-1 season in NFL history, the rebooted Browns may finally be getting it together.
The Browns’ trek through the football netherworld may pay huge dividends, in the form of blossoming draft picks, and quarterback Baker Mayfield is only one piece of that puzzle. Rookies Nick Chubb and Antonio Callaway likewise rose to the occasion on offense, while sophomore tight end David Njoku took a big step forward in the latter stages of the season.
Youth likewise reigned defensively, as Denzel Ward and Jabrill Peppers, partners in first-round brotherhood, combined to force nine turnovers. This young, hip makeover makes Cleveland the place to be in 2019.