Remember when the Packers were criticized for firing coach Mike McCarthy with a month left in the season? As we argued at the time, that’s far better than the alternative.
The alternative is this: Working secretly behind the coach’s back to line up potential replacements before firing the head coach, finagling a head start on the process before severing ties with current coach.
Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News reports that the Jets did just that, and that the effort included a late November/early December meeting between CEO Christopher Johnson, now-former G.M. Mike Maccagnan, now-former V.P. of player personnel Brian Heimerdinger, and agent Erik Burkhardt. The goal was to discuss the possibility of hiring Kliff Kingsbury to become the team’s new head coach.
Mehta also reports that Johnson engaged in other efforts to explore replacement coaches without Maccagnan’s knowledge or involvement. Johnson used an intermediary to touch base with two “established head coaches” who would have had the power to keep or to fire Maccagan. (It’s unclear whether the “established head coaches” were coaching other NFL teams at the time; if that’s the case, it would open a separate can of worms for the Jets under the tampering policy.)
Moreover, Mehta confirms that the Jets also made overtures to Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh before firing Bowles. PFT reported in December that the Jets intended to make a run at Jim Harbaugh. Johnson quickly issued a statement denying that, but we stood by our report.
As Jets coach Adam Gase said last Thursday, none of this matters if the Jets win. And he’s right. If they keep losing, however, fans will continue to point to this and other evidence of dysfunction, forcing them at some point to do what not long ago would have been unthinkable: Count the days until Woody Johnson returns to reclaim day-to-day control of the team.