The Jets’ 6 best coaching candidates to replace fired Adam Gase

It was an eye-opening tenure for Adam Gase in New York.

While Gase earned some credit for getting one of the best offensive seasons in NFL history alongside Peyton Manning in Denver earlier in his career, he had a difficult time replicating even a fraction of that success in flops with the Dolphins and Jets, resulting in his firing from New York on Sunday.

Now, two head-coaching stops, a meme, many back pages and over 30 double-digit losses later, Gase is now back on unemployment line, with an abysmal, nasty, disgusting (record) 2020 season in New York sparking a catalyst for change at head coach in Florham Park. While the Jets flirted with a winless season, a few largely meaningless victories down the stretch made the 2020 season look a bit more palatable than it was. But it ultimately meant nothing for Gase’s jets tenure.

With a new head coach coming in, potentially a new quarterback, the Jets can’t afford to get this thing wrong again, and unlike the last time the Jets were searching for a coach, there are several intriguing options for New York to chase as Gase’s successor. Here are some of the best and rumored:

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Eric Bieniemy

The fact that Eric Bieniemy has interviewed with seven different organizations but has yet to land a head gig is surprising.

Sure, there’s some skepticism considering Bieniemy isn’t the one calling plays for Kansas City’s dynamic offense, but the Andy Reid coaching tree is tried and true, and Reid doesn’t get enough credit for that. John Harbaugh, Sean McDermott, Doug Pederson and Ron Rivera have all come from the Reid tree, and each head coach has had good to great levels of success in the NFL. 

Why would Bieniemy be any different? While Kansas City’s success is certainly somewhat symbiotic between quarterback, head coach and offensive coordinator, it’s suspect that Bieniemy, just a few months removed from winning a Super Bowl with KC, still hasn’t gotten any head coaching offers. If the Jets plan to move past an archaic system and one of the league’s most consistently terrible offenses, then Bieniemy would be a very smart and forward hire.

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Arthur Smith

Arthur Smith has only been an OC for the Titans since the beginning of the 2019 season, but in that span he’s worked wonders with the Tennessee offense, giving them a definitive identity and really unlocking the potential of some of his key offensive players.

Utilizing a heavy-run and downfield play-action attack, Smith has brought the absolute best out of quarterback Ryan Tannehill and running back Derrick Henry, while boasting one of the elite offenses in the league since Tannehill became their starter.

Can’t really argue with results there. It might also say something that Smith has really made something of former Gase castoff Tannehill.

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Brian Daboll

Brian Daboll deserves a lot of credit for helping turn Josh Allen into a bona fide MVP candidate in 2020, just a year after Allen’s shaky passing performance led folks to thinking his ceiling

Daboll has a solid resume and is well-traveled, having worked with Bill Belichick in New England, Nick Saban in Alabama (2017), with Romeo Crennel in Kansas City (2012) and even had a stint with the Jets as their QB coach in 2007 and 2008.

There are, of course, some question marks with Daboll: A lot of the Bills’ success in 2020 can be attributed to a stellar wide receiver corps, something the Jets would need to keep building on. How much of the success the Bills have had deals with the supporting cast that Brandon Beane has put together is up for debate, but the tremendous work that Daboll has done to get the most out of Allen and those players is not.

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Pat Fitzgerald

The Jets were rumored to be interested in Pat Fitzgerald earlier in the season — having done their “due diligence” on him, per reports — leading to Fitzgerald landing on this list.

Fitzgerald has garnered a reputation as a very smart football man, culture-builder and built a consistent program with the Wildcats. Despite Northwestern having a history of being less-than-good, Fitzgerald has amassed a 105-81 record at the school and has finished seasons ranked in the top 25 four times, including 2020 (No. 11).

Fitzgerald has caught the eye of NFL franchises in the past, turning down interviews with the Panthers and Packers in recent years. While Fitzgerald has said Northwestern is his “dream job,” the more NFL teams keep knocking on the door, perhaps the closer Fitzgerald gets to making the jump to the league. 

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Matt Campbell

If the Jets are intent on running it back, then Matt Campbell wouldn’t be a bad option.

Campbell turned down the Jets for an interview the last time New York was searching for a head coach, but would he do it twice?

With a new, less meddlesome general manager and largely different circumstances this time around — cap space, premium draft picks, cornerstone pieces — Campbell would likely be walking into a totally malleable and controllable situation in New York, and a better one than the last time he was asked to head up the team.

Campbell has done a marvelous job turning Iowa State into a respectable program, hence his interest from NFL teams. 

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Don ‘Wink’ Martindale

Wink Martindale and the Jets seem like a pretty good match on paper for a number of reasons. 

First, there’s the obvious Joe Douglas-Martindale Baltimore connection. Douglas was with Baltimore between 2000 and 2014 with the Ravens in various roles, overlapping with Martindale for two years in Baltimore.

While a Martindale hire wouldn’t be the offensive-lean that Jets fans would like to see, it’s hard to discount the work he’s done as DC for the Ravens in the last two years: “Wink” has coached the Ravens to the No. 1 scoring defense in both 2019 and 2020. 

Would Martindale’s scheme and coaching prowess translate to the head-coaching chair? Potentially. He’s already reportedly on the radar of NFL franchises, so an interview or phone call with former boss Douglas wouldn’t be surprising.

Also, the last time the Jets hired a defensive coordinator out of Baltimore, it worked out pretty well.

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