Mike McCarthy wants New York Jets coaching job, but can they do better?

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It sure looks as if former Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy wants the New York Jets’ head coaching job.

But do they want him?

That’s the big question as the search for the Jets’ next head coach drags on. 

ESPN reported Tuesday night that McCarthy is interested in only one coaching vacancy: the one in Florham Park. The Jets should be flattered — they have a good job to offer here — but really this isn’t a surprise.

McCarthy hadn’t interviewed for any other openings, and the only other job he’d been linked to was Cleveland. It became obvious Tuesday that McCarthy wasn’t getting that job, once the Browns zeroed in on two other finalists. So word that McCarthy doesn’t want to be considered for any other job looks like a signal that he’s very interested in the Jets’ gig. 

So what do the Jets do?

The team has interviewed seven other coaches for the job: Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, former Dolphins coach Adam Gase, Cowboys defensive assistant Kris Richard, former Lions coach Jim Caldwell, former Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury (hired by Arizona), Buccaneers offensive coordinator Todd Monken and Baylor coach Matt Rhule. 

As of early Wednesday morning, Jets CEO Christopher Johnson and general manager Mike Maccagnan hadn’t made their decision. The next step? They could go outside the pool of known candidates (unlikely), bring someone in for a second interview, or they could make the hire.

Thoughts on each candidate

Caldwell would be a bad choice. He has a winning record, but he would not inspire the fan base, and his teams have always seemed to fall short of their potential. 

Richard is intriguing and charismatic, but it’s hard to imagine the Jets entrusting the development of franchise quarterback Sam Darnold with a young defensive coach. 

Rhule is an impressive candidate who remade college programs at Temple and Baylor. But it would be a huge risk to hope that he could replicate that success in the NFL. 

More: NFL playoff X-factors: Eight things that could swing divisional-round games

More: Opinion: Arizona Cardinals’ hiring of Kliff Kingsbury is a bold and bad move

 

McCarthy is the safest choice for the Jets among the known candidates. He’s the biggest name with the most experience, and that Super Bowl ring looks mighty nice on his mantle. But his final season in Green Bay was a disaster, and his offense grew stale and ineffective in recent years as he obviously lost the confidence of Aaron Rodgers. Maybe a change of scenery would fix things. But maybe it wouldn’t. 

He would be a fine choice, but Jets fans should not be hung up on him as the only choice, or even the best choice. There are other good options on this list.

Gase seems like a risky candidate. An offensive mastermind who couldn’t get his offense going in Miami, he rubbed some players the wrong way in the locker room. But he went 23-25 with terrible quarterback play, he’s only 40 and has garnered respect around the league. His upside is bigger than McCarthy. 

So that leaves us with Bieniemy and Monken, the two most exciting candidates on the list.

Both have experience working in and running elite offenses. 

Bieniemy helped the Chiefs become the best offense in the NFL this season, and has the edge of working closely with young quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who became an MVP candidate in his first season as a starter. Other Andy Reid proteges have found success. Bieniemy doesn’t call the plays for the Chiefs, but it’s obvious that he’s integral to one of the most prolific offenses in NFL history.

Monken hasn’t turned Jameis Winston into a superstar, but that seems more of a reflection on the quarterback than the play caller. Monken’s aggressive offense made the Bucs one of the most exciting teams in football last season, as they led the NFL in passing yards with Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick splitting reps. Imagine what he could do with Darnold? 

There would be risk in hiring Bieniemy or Monken. But after years of defensive-minded head coaches and careful, tedious offensive play, the Jets finally have their franchise quarterback on the roster.

This isn’t the time to play it safe. 

Email: vasqueza@northjersey.com

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