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  • After more than two decades of defensive-minded head coaches, watch for the Jets to hire someone who can work with QB Sam Darnold.
By Conor Orr
December 30, 2018

Confirming the conventional wisdom that has existed around the team for months now, the Jets announced that they’ve officially moved on from head coach Todd Bowles after the team’s 38–3 loss to the Patriots to close out the 2017 season on Sunday. And after some recent speculation, GM Mike Maccagnan will reportedly stay with the team.

The former Cardinals defensive coordinator, who rose to the top of the candidate pool on the heels of Bruce Arians’s halcyon days in Arizona back in 2015, supplanted Rex Ryan at a time when the Jets’ organization was looking for some peace, quiet and stability.

Bowles was ushered in as the organization emerged on the free-agent market as big spenders. The Jets nearly made the playoffs in his first season, going 10–6, before slumping to two 5–11 seasons and dropping to 4–12 this year. Bowles’s record in four seasons in New York finished at 24–40. Despite his reputation as a defensive coach, the team finished outside the top 20 in points allowed each of his final three years.

While the Jets did draft some star power—Jamal Adams and Leonard Williams are among the best at their position—the offense stagnated under No. 3 overall pick Sam Darnold. With engrained fears of squandering another franchise quarterback, the team will likely pivot to someone with experience developing quarterbacks.

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Darnold’s name will come up often this offseason. The highly-regarded rookie from USC flashed moments of brilliance this season, but was ultimately buried in a scheme that couldn’t set him up for success. The next head coach will almost certainly be grounded in both collegiate and pro systems to benefit him, or will at least express a desire to integrate both. The tealeaves around the organization have been fascinating. Established names—Mike McCarthy and Jim Harbaugh—have already surfaced (the Jets denied any interest in Harbaugh in a written statement last week). While neither may end up wandering their sideline in 2019, it could serve as an indication of what direction they’re looking in.

Through their recent history, the Jets have had a tendency to vacillate between brash and stoic. The Eric Mangini era was followed by Ryan. Al Groh was replaced by Herm Edwards, and so on. What they have not had in nearly 30 years, though, is a coach who has climbed the coaching ladder on the offensive side of the ball. Their last coach who was an offensive coordinator or head coach with an offensive background before taking the reins? Rich Kotite back in 1995. Expect this hire to break the streak.

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