Bieniemy, Saleh among 6 would-be rookie head coaches Jets should target

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Tyler Calvaruso
·5 min read
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The search to replace Adam Gase is well underway.

With Gase out the door, the Jets have begun their quest to find a replacement who could clean up the mess left at One Jets Drive. If New York could learn anything from Gase’s time in the Big Apple, it is that hiring a retread candidate probably is not the wisest thing in today’s NFL landscape.

There are plenty of fresh faces for Joe Douglas to choose from to succeed Gase — some of whom he has already interviewed. Here are six would-be rookie head coaches that Douglas should be eyeing for the Jets’ head-coaching vacancy.

Panthers OC Joe Brady

Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

If the Jets are ever going to be bold with a head-coaching candidate, Joe Brady is the coach worth taking a chance on. Only 31 with one year of NFL coordinator experience, the Panthers' coach has already established himself as one of the brightest play-callers in the game. He had journeyman Mike Davis producing at Christian McCaffery levels and Robby Anderson notched his first 1,000-yard season in Carolina. Teddy Bridgewater has also looked like his old self under Brady’s watch thanks to his explosive offensive scheme — one that turned Joe Burrow into the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NFL draft. As if Brady’s success with the Panthers and his work developing Burrow isn’t enough, he also has a two-year apprenticeship with Sean Payton under his belt. That’s not too shabby for a coach whose only experience prior to his stint in New Orleans was as an FCS linebackers coach and a graduate assistant at Penn State. Brady doesn’t have much seasoning, but neither did Sean McVay when the Rams hired him in 2017. That’s not to say Brady is the next McVay, but he could be on a similar path. Considering the way things went under Gase’s watch, New York has nothing to lose taking a chance on Brady. His track record of success speaks for itself.

Chiefs OC Eric Bieniemy

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There is no doubt that the Jets can benefit greatly from having a bright offensive mind to work with whoever their quarterback is in 2021. Bieniemy fits that profile to a tee. It’s really not that big of a deal that Bieniemy does not call every single play the Chiefs offense runs. New York is looking for a CEO-type head coach — Bieiemy has experience managing superstar talents — who is involved in all three facets of the game. It is safe to assume he has learned plenty about that coaching style working on Andy Reid’s staff. Bieniemy is not a flawless candidate, but he is one of the best fits for the Jets on the market. As long as he did well in his interview, the 51-year-old should be near the top of Douglas’ list.

Titans OC Arthur Smith

Syndication: Nashville

Three years ago, Arthur Smith was a mostly unknown tight ends coach. Now, he's arguably one of the most promising offensive minds in the NFL and likely to be a hot commodity this offseason. Smith took over as the Titans offensive coordinator last season and oversaw the highest-scoring Tennessee team in 16 years. The Titans' offense has gotten even better this season, as Derrick Henry leads the league in rushing and Ryan Tannehill is completing 65% of his passes with Smith calling the plays. Smith essentially saved Tannehill's career, turning him from Marcus Mariota's backup into one of the NFL's most consistent passers. He would be an ideal mentor to whoever is under center for the Jets next season.

Bills OC Brian Daboll

Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports Brian Daboll has orchestrated productive offenses for the Bills since 2018 and is a rising name in the coaching ranks. He has plenty of experience as an NFL offensive coordinator in stints with the Browns, Chiefs, Dolphins and Buffalo, and he’s taken Josh Allen from project to star in rapid time. Daboll also has a connection to the Jets, as he was New York’s quarterbacks coach from 2007-08. Daboll might not be the sexiest hire, but he could be a shrewd one. Not only would he give the Jets an experienced offensive play-caller, but his arrival in New York would also take him away from a rising Bills team. That’s one way to knock out two birds with one stone.

Colts DC Matt Eberflus

Syndication: Indianapolis

In only three years, Matt Eberflus has turned a defense that was one of the worst in football into an elite unit. When Eberflus arrived in Indianapolis in 2018, he inherited a defense ranked 30th in the NFL the previous season. Under his watch, the group has become one consistently ranked in the top 10 against both the run and the pass. Eberflus has also drawn universal praise for instilling a demanding, disciplined culture that Indianapolis was lacking. Eberflus wouldn’t be a bad choice if New York is interested in a defense-first candidate. What he has done for the Colts’ culture certainly works in his favor.

49ers DC Robert Saleh

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The Jets played with little to no energy throughout the majority of 2020. Robert Saleh could come in and instantly make sure that doesn’t happen in 2021 and beyond.

Saleh coaches with the kind of passion that makes him the ultimate players’ coach. He has the intangibles of a very good NFL head coach with his detail-oriented style and the respect he commands in the locker room. He has also spearheaded a top-notch 49ers defense since 2017, which is a major feather in his cap. The Jets had nothing to lose by hosting Saleh for an interview earlier this week. If they ultimately decide they want to go with an offensive candidate, so be it. It just might be tough to say no to the intensity he brings to the job when it’s all said and done -- especially if he blew away Douglas in his interview.