FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — George Edwards won’t take credit for it.
But it was his friendships with Todd Bowles and Chan Gailey that helped pave the way for a coaching union that already has produced big results for the Jets (10-5).
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“As Todd was filling out a staff and looking for an offensive coordinator, I told him about my experiences working with Chan,” Edwards, the Minnesota Vikings’ defensive coordinator, said Thursday in a phone interview with Newsday. “He had an interest and ended up talking to him and that’s kind of how it unfolded.”StoryJets' playoff scenariosColumnGlauber: Jets scored big with coach/GM hiresStoryJets always believed in themselves
Other suitors came calling, but it was Bowles’ pitch that won over Gailey. To outsiders, it seemed like an unlikely pairing at first, given Gailey’s semiretirement and two years away from coaching. But now it makes perfect sense.
On Sunday, Gailey will return to Buffalo for the first time since his final game as the Bills’ head coach in 2012. He’ll step onto the field at Ralph Wilson Stadium in a new color — Jets green — but he’ll be the same coach he always was.
Will it be emotional?
“No,” he said straight-faced. “It’s just another game.”
Then he added with a laugh: “If we’re going to talk about all the places I’ve been at, we’re going to have a long list.”
A victory over the Bills will earn the Jets a wild-card playoff spot and bring Gailey one step closer to the goal he set in December 2014, when he finally made up his mind to return to the NFL.
“I just had some personal reasons why I wanted to come back and give it another go and try to win a championship,” said Gailey, 63. “ . . . Sometimes when you’re gone, you think you’re forgotten. And knowing that maybe you weren’t forgotten did have some impetus into [a return to coaching].”
Gailey said he’s “up for” a return to the Jets in 2016 but noted that it’s not his call. Bowles, however, made it clear that he expects Gailey by his side in Year 2. “I wanted him here. I want him back,” he said. “ . . . He’s been great for us. And I love him to death.”
Gailey said Edwards talked to him about Bowles and told him “what he thought of him and how much he liked him and what kind of guy he was.” And that’s as far as Edwards’ involvement went.
“I have no magic wand,” joked Edwards, whom Gailey first hired in 1998, when he was the coach of the Cowboys.
In 2010, Gailey, then the coach of the Bills, again hired Edwards to be his linebackers coach.
“They’re very similar in a lot of their philosophies," Edwards said. "There’s a connection there and they’ve been able to have success. …I was blessed to be able to have the opportunity to work with both of them. They’re both good men, good fathers, good husbands off the football field. As far as football coaches, they’re very similar in that they’re going to work to get the most of what they have.”
The Jets are ranked eighth in total offense. Brandon Marshall has a franchise-record 101 catches and a career-high 13 touchdowns. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has a personal-best 29 touchdown passes (tying Vinny Testaverde’s single-season franchise record).
And that’s no surprise to Edwards. “[Chan] can get the most ability out of the guys that he has at a specific time,” said Edwards, who coached in Miami with Bowles from 2008-09. “One thing he doesn’t do is pigeonhole himself as, this is the offense that we’re going to run. He’ll look at the talent level that he has and put them in the best position to hopefully be successful.”