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SportsColumnistsBob Glauber

Hiring coach before GM shouldn't be problem for Jets

Jets owner Woody Johnson talks to media at

Jets owner Woody Johnson talks to media at Jets training facility in Florham Park, New Jersey on Dec. 29, 2014. Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

It was an awkward arrangement from the start, and by the end, it proved the undoing of both Rex Ryan and John Idzik.

Jets owner Woody Johnson went against conventional wisdom by hiring Idzik yet keeping Ryan in place after the 2012 season. And although the relationship showed initial promise in an 8-8 season in 2013, the entire operation unraveled during the just-concluded 4-12 season, and Johnson decided to fire both men and start from scratch.

But is the owner about to make the same mistake twice by hiring his next coach first and then naming the general manager?

It won't be long before the answer is revealed, and it could very well turn out that Johnson hires the two in the wrong order. Or at least not in the order he would have preferred.

But there are some very important differences between the Idzik-Ryan partnership -- or lack thereof -- and the impending GM-coach relationship that is soon to be announced. And although hiring a general manager first and letting him decide on the new coach is the preferred method, it's not necessarily a sign of bad things to come if it turns out the coach comes first.

Case in point: When the Seahawks were looking for a new coach and general manager in 2009, they hired Pete Carroll first. It wasn't until eight days later that Packers front-office executive John Schneider was named general manager.

How's that working out? The two men have developed a terrific relationship and now preside over the defending Super Bowl champions.

"Pete and I didn't know each other very well, so there's a learning curve there, a feeling-out process," Schneider said. "But we got to know each other and we made it work. Each of us knows how the other one thinks, and I think that has been very helpful in building our roster."

Seattle's roster might be the best in the game, and the Seahawks are in position to become the first repeat Super Bowl winner since the 2003-04 Patriots.

The Jets can only hope they achieve similar results with their next coach and GM, but it remains to be seen how well the two men who occupy those positions will get along. And in the end, it's quite possible that the new coach and GM already will have an idea about how things will work -- even if it's the new coach who is hired first.

Consider: Former Bills coach Doug Marrone, who opted out of his contract with Buffalo on Wednesday, is the favorite to land the coaching job. But the Jets may believe they have to hire him more quickly because of expected competition from the Falcons, 49ers and Bears, who also have expressed interest.

If that's the case, the new GM would be hired after Marrone. But Marrone is familiar with one of the favorites in the GM search -- Texans director of college scouting Mike Maccagnan -- so it's conceivable that the order in which the Jets make their hires might be a moot point. Marrone also knows GM candidate Rick Mueller from when the two worked in the Saints' organization.

If the Jets decide that Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, who was interviewed Friday in Seattle, is the right man to be their coach, they could consider hiring Seahawks executive Trent Kirchner, who was interviewed for the GM job. And even if Kirchner isn't the choice, the Jets will have to wait for Quinn to complete the playoffs before he can be hired, in which case a GM potentially would be in place by then.

Then again, they might have to wait on a new GM candidate if his current team is alive in the playoffs.

Johnson indicated at his Monday news briefing announcing the firings of Ryan and Idzik that he'd prefer to hire a general manager first, but he also said he would be prepared to hire the coach and then the GM if the situation called for it.

Either way, Johnson correctly wants to make sure the two men he hires will have a healthy working relationship, unlike the Idzik-Ryan arrangement.

It was just too clunky from the start. Ryan was in a win-now mode to keep his job, but Idzik wanted to build for the future and resisted quick-fix moves that might have helped the roster in the short term.

Having a new coach and GM starting out together puts both decision-makers on a common footing, so separating the hirings by a few days won't make as much difference as bringing in a new GM for a coach going into his fifth year with the team.

It's also worth pointing out that the Seahawks aren't the only successful team to hire a coach first and then the general manager. The Chiefs made a quick strike for Andy Reid shortly after he was fired by the Eagles following the 2012 season, and John Dorsey was hired as GM a week after Reid. Team owner Clark Hunt appears to have found a winning combination: Reid and Dorsey have had two straight winning seasons after the Chiefs nose-dived to 2-14 in 2012.

In a perfect world, yes, you hire the GM first and then the coach. But in a situation in which both positions are open simultaneously, perfect is a relative term. Johnson's task is to get the right people for the jobs.

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