After firing Rex Ryan and John Idzik yesterday Woody Johnson is now placed with the task of finding both of their replacements. Fire everybody always sounds good after losing seasons but whether the firings end up being good decisions is always dependent on who is hired as a replacement.
Johnson appears to have learned from past mistakes where he would take turns firing a general manager but retaining his head coach or vice versa. This almost never works out and the latest example of forcing Idzik to keep Ryan not only caused the Jets to miss out on other candidates the last time around but the new general manager and the old coach often struggled to get on the same page, mostly because of the simple fact that they were working with different timelines.
Johnson said ideally they would like to hire a general manager first and bring him in on the search for the head coach. Johnson did however leave room for the possibility of an exception but it does seem likely that they will hire a general manager first. Whoever that general manager ends up being he will be taking over a much more attractive situation than what Idzik started with. The only real concerns for potential candidates is Will Johnson give them the authority to bring in their own coaching and scouting/pro personnel staff and will he give the new guy enough time to properly shape this roster into a team that can reach sustainable success?
With Charlie Casserly and Ron Wolf consulting on the search for general manager and coaching candidates the Jets are in much better hands than if Johnson himself was the only one making the decision. The Jets have already officially reached out to a few candidates for each open position and more names are likely to leak out in the next week or so. Johnson won’t want to drag his feet with these decisions but he is far less likely to rush into a decision.
Below we’ll take a look at a few of the general manager candidates that the Jets have contacted, will likely make official contact with and a few that they most definitely should reach out to.
According to Brian Costello of the New York Post the Jets have already reached out to at least five candidates.
Eric DeCosta (Ravens assistant GM) - To describe DeCosta as a long-shot would be awfully generous. Many a team has inquired into the possibility of hiring DeCosta over the past few years, including the Jets when the ultimately hired Idzik, but DeCosta does not seem to have any interest in leaving Baltimore. The fact that he is the GM in waiting to take over for current GM Ozzie Newsome when leaves most likely has everything to do with his desire to stay put.
Rick Mueller (Eagles director of pro personnel) - Mueller was hired by the Eagles in January of 2012. He had previously had NFL experience with the New Orleans Saints and Jacksonville Jaguars before a brief stint in the UFL.
In 2009 Mueller was “named the league’s vice president and served as the general manager to all four teams. He was then hired as the general manager for the Omaha Nighthawks in 2010, an expansion team, and served in that capacity for two seasons,” according to the Eagles team website.
Before his stint in the UFL Mueller worked for the Jaguars for six-years “where he served as the club’s director of college scouting (1998-2000) and college scout (1194-98), before going to the Saints personnel department for eight seasons. “He served as the team’s vice president of player personnel (2006-08) and director of player personnel (2000-06).
Mike Maccagnan (Texans director of college scouting) - Maccagnan was promoted to his current job in July of 2011 after spending 12 seasons within the Texans organization.
“One of the Texans’ first hires, Maccagnan initially joined the club as a pro scout in January 2000 before being promoted to coordinator of college scouting in April 2000.”
Maccagnan is a well respected scout and the Texans have certainly benefited from having him and they have drafted really well. He has plenty of NFL experience and a good football background in scouting and is sure to be a coveted candidate.
Trent Kirchner (Seahawks director of pro personnel) - Before Jets fans roll their eyes at the thought of another person from the Seahawks front office coming onboard here just know this, Kirchner is known as a great evaluator of talent. His experience is in scouting and is highly respected for his football knowledge and consider to be Seattle’s general manager, John Schneider’s, right-hand man.
Kirchner has been with the Seahawks since they hired Schneider in 2010, first as assistant pro personnel director before being promoted to his current role before the 2013 season.
George Paton (Vikings assistant GM) - The Jets have reached out to Paton, who has been the Vikings assistant general manager for the past eight years, but he is reportedly still deciding if he will even accept the interview. This would seem to make Paton a bit of a long-shot. Even if he didn’t think he wanted to take the job it would still make sense for him to take the interview and gain some interview experience for later.
WHO THEY SHOULD CALL
Scot McCloughan - (Former 49ers GM) As respected player evaluator as there is in all of football. But McCloughan does not come without some baggage as he has battled alcohol dependency issues. Offering McCloughan a job as a general manager might be a bit much but if they, or some other team, doesn’t want to offer him that role they should absolutely not hesitate to hire him to run the scouting/player personnel department.
Read everything you would want to know about McCloughan in this exceptional piece by ESPN’s Seth Wickersham.
Duke Tobin (Bengals director of player personnel) - Tobin’s name was thrown around a lot in the weeks leading up to the end of the season but has not had his name mentioned in any official capacity in connection with the Jets yet.
Tobin has been in the Bengals front office since 1999 and if you need to know why the Jets should definitely inquire about his services just take a look at the Bengals roster and the great results they have gotten out of their recent draft classes. If you ignore the quarterback, impossible to do in the NFL of course, the Bengals probably have the best roster in football. The only thing holding them back is of course their quarterback but Tobin is as big a reason why the rest of that roster is so stacked with talent.
WHAT DOES THE LIST OF CANDIDATES SAY ABOUT THE SEARCH?
These are just the first names, they may not be the last, but there is one common theme among them all that should be encouraging to Jets fans, they are all football people and skilled evaluators of talent. Idzik wanted to build through the draft, which is absolutely the right approach, but these candidates are much more qualified to make the correct draft choices than Idzik ever was.