The Jets have interviewed four candidates so far for their head coaching vacancy and have requested permission to speak with six others. And those are just the ones we know about.
There will be more.
Jets GM Joe Douglas is doing exactly what he promised when he said “We’re going to cast a very wide net” in his search for a new head coach. By the end of next week, it’s possible he will have conducted nine interviews, maybe more, which is astonishing considering most teams usually cap their search at around five or six. And that doesn’t include Giants defensive coordinator Patrick Graham, who would’ve interviewed this week if he hadn’t withdrawn his name from consideration when the Giants offered him a contract extension and a raise.
It also doesn’t include college coaches yet, though several NFL sources continue to insist that Douglas will at least investigate several candidates from the college ranks, though it’s unclear if any of them will actually end up getting a formal interview for the job.
So far, he’s met (virtually) with Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, former Bengals coach Marvin Lewis and Panthers offensive coordinator Joe Brady. He’s scheduled to interview Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll and Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus on Sunday, Saints defensive backs coach (and former Jet) Aaron Glenn on Monday, and Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith and Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley sometime next week.
Who else could end up in Douglas’ “wide net”? Here’s a look:
Iowa State coach Matt Campbell – He is believed to be high on Douglas’ shortlist, according to multiple NFL sources. And when the Jets looked into him two years ago, even though he never got a formal interview, he left a favorable impression on several people in the organization. The question is still whether he’s willing to make the jump to the NFL, and whether the Jets’ job is good enough to entice him. It’s not clear if they’ve actually contacted him yet, though it’s often hard to tell with college coaches who don’t want recruits to think they are eyeing the door. But there are some who believe the 41-year-old who has taken the Cyclones to four straight bowl games would be the perfect program-builder for the franchise if he wants the job.
Florida coach Dan Mullen – A report from a Gainesville, Fla., TV station said Mullen plans to interview with the Jets in the next few days. Other sources are uncertain if that’s actually happening, though he does seem to be on a longer version of Douglas’ shortlist. The 48-year old has a reputation for developing quarterbacks – Alex Smith when he was the QB coach at Utah, Dak Prescott when he was the head coach at Mississippi State, and now Kyle Trask at Florida. He’s got some baggage, though, including helping ignite a brawl against Missouri, publicly asking his university president to allow a full stadium of fans in the midst of a pandemic, and a bit of a prickly relationship with the media in a much smaller market than New York.
Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald – The 46-year-old is another who gets the “program builder” tag and reportedly is willing to talk to NFL teams after taking the Wildcats to 10 bowl games in his 15 seasons. For a long time the word on him was that he didn’t want to move his family from the Chicago area. He even turned down a chance to interview with the Packers a few years ago. The Lions are reportedly interested in him now. That’s still four hours from Chicago, but obviously much closer than New York.
Ravens defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale – It is strange that the Jets haven’t put in a request to interview the 57-year-old yet since so many around the NFL believed he’d be at the top of Douglas’ list. Maybe he’ll be added this week, once the Ravens are through their first-round playoff game. If not, it’ll be a clear signal that everyone was wrong. He hasn’t had any known interview requests yet, by the way, which is also odd because he seemed to be on everyone’s list of top coordinators in this coach-hiring cycle after coaching the Ravens into the Top 7 in the NFL in defense three straight years.
Former NFL coach Jim Caldwell – He’s 65 years old, but he apparently wants another shot as a head coach and reportedly interviewed for the Texans’ job last week. The Jets already interviewed the 62-year-old Lewis, so age may not be a major factor. Plus, Caldwell has the all-important Baltimore ties. He was the Ravens’ offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in 2012-13 when Douglas was a scout there. He also has a successful track record -- a 62-50 record as a head coach in Indianapolis and Detroit. His 36-28 record in Detroit from 2014-17 with two playoff berths makes him by far the most successful head coach with the Lions since the 1990s.