It's as if Bill Parcells suddenly had become available on the open market.
With Doug Marrone taking the unexpected step of opting out of his contract as the Bills' head coach, he has vaulted to the top of the coaching wish list in this year's hiring cycle. Within hours of his New Year's Eve announcement, the Jets, 49ers and Falcons lined up to talk with him. And there's talk the Bears are interested, too.
Let's tap on the brakes here, shall we?
Sure, Marrone did a nice job with the Bills this year, leading Buffalo to a 9-7 record, its first winning season since 2004. And he did it with a journeyman quarterback in Kyle Orton, who took over for struggling young quarterback EJ Manuel early in the season. Along the way, the Bills upset the Packers on Dec. 14.
But make no mistake: The reason Marrone won in Buffalo this season was because he had a great defense coached by Jim Schwartz and because Marrone pulled the plug on Manuel. That's the quarterback whom Marrone was so high on the year before, even though most draft experts felt the Bills were reaching -- badly -- when they took the Florida State quarterback with the 16th overall pick.
Although the coach is to be commended for giving Manuel a quick hook and going with Orton -- a game manager whose main job was basically not to mess up on offense and ruin the good work of a dominant defense -- that's hardly justification for thinking that Marrone can come to the Jets and solve their quarterback issues.
Not only that, but Marrone isn't a play-caller. At Syracuse, where he turned the program around with some much-needed discipline after the failed Greg Robinson era, he had Rob Spence and then Nathaniel Hackett as his offensive coordinators. Hackett has called the plays in Buffalo the last two seasons.
One other red flag: The Buffalo News reported shortly after Marrone's departure on Wednesday that one of the reasons for the coach's unhappiness in Buffalo was his treatment by the local media. "He was said to be upset with what he saw as constant criticism and a general lack of support,'' according to the News. "He was particularly infuriated by the questions raised about whether he should remain as the Bills' coach after the team recorded one of the biggest victories in franchise history against Green Bay.''
If it was bad in Buffalo, what's it going to be like in the metropolitan area?
The feeling here is that the better alternative as Rex Ryan's replacement is the one who will meet Friday with Jets owner Woody Johnson and his newly hired advisers, former NFL general managers Charley Casserly and Ron Wolf. Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, who has a Super Bowl championship on his resume and the New York vibe in his blood, makes more sense.
Like Marrone, Quinn is a former Jets assistant, coaching the defensive line under Eric Mangini in 2007-08. He was a Hofstra defensive assistant under Joe Gardi from 1996-2000 and also worked for the 49ers and Dolphins. Quinn, 44, grew up in Morristown, New Jersey, a stone's throw from the Jets' training complex in Florham Park.
Quinn is comfortable in his own skin, has a great rapport with his players and is as composed during media interviews as he is calling plays for the Seahawks' renowned "Legion of Boom'' defense. Quinn also seems to have a more global sense of what it will take to be a head coach, diverging from Ryan's penchant for paying attention to his defense and leaving the offense to someone else.
The Jets might have to wait a month for Quinn to finish his season, because he can't be hired until after the Seahawks' season is over -- which might not be until Feb. 1, when the Super Bowl is played in Glendale, Arizona. But if you have a conviction on a guy, what's another few weeks?
Big decision here, folks. The Jets can't afford to get it wrong.