Hello and welcome back . . .
The Jets’ season has just ended, they’ve made another coaching change and they now begin the latest search for a leader they hope can restore dreams of playoff runs and Super Bowls.
It’s Black Monday for the rest of the NFL. For the Jets, it’s Groundhog Day, as this never-ending cycle continues for a franchise steeped in failure and unable to produce another championship to match the one from more than a half-century ago.
You’ve just about had it, Jets fans, asking yourselves why you still bother to root for a team that so often disappoints — with the latest incarnation a 2-14 season that claimed the Jets coaching career of Adam Gase. You tell yourself this is it, no more.
And then . . . you can’t. You can’t because you hold out hope that maybe they can find their way back, that they can figure out the right coach to match the moment, whether it be longtime Andy Reid protege Eric Bieniemy, Bills offensive coordinator and Josh Allen tutor Brian Daboll, underrated and largely unknown Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus, Ravens defensive coordinator Don "Wink" Martindale, 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh or another in this year’s expansive field of candidates.
Jets CEO Christopher Johnson tried and failed with Gase, who won only nine games over two seasons. But he has entrusted general manager Joe Douglas — who has done yeoman’s work in his 19 months on the job by drafting well and acquiring multiple high-round picks over the next two years — to have the biggest say in the next coaching hire.
And that’s good news. We’ve urged Johnson to go in that direction because of Douglas’ experience in personnel matters and his smart and deliberate approach to tearing down and then rebuilding the roster. Johnson has shown a willingness to give up some of his authority and essentially give Douglas the biggest voice in the process.
"Joe has a lot of background, he has a lot of time in this league, he’s well respected," Johnson said Monday on a conference call in discussing the search for a coach. "Make no mistake. He’s going to be taking the lead on this. His opinion will be taken most seriously, and I think fans can feel safe knowing that we’re going to get this right."
Of course, there’s no guarantee Douglas will get this right, just as there isn’t any guarantee for any coach hiring. But of all the people in the organization, Douglas is the right guy to have the deciding opinion.
Douglas is best positioned to address the frustration of all Jets fans, up to and including the man who signs the checks for everyone in the organization.
"I am sick of losing," Johnson said. "I am so tired of this, as are the players, as are the fans. I’m sick of this, but I really think that Joe is the GM we’ve been searching for for years. I have a lot of faith in him. If we can get this coaching hire right — and I think we will — we can be a team that no one is going to want to see on their schedule, even next year. Then we’ll see where we can go with that, but I see a very bright future with this team."
Jets owner Woody Johnson likely will not be a part of the coaching search.
"My brother has one job. He is the ambassador to the [United Kingdom]," Christopher Johnson said. "When he comes back is still uncertain."
Douglas and his new coach will have major decisions to make, starting with the quarterback. Sam Darnold came to the Jets in 2018 as the heir apparent to a legacy left behind long ago by Joe Namath. He has not progressed to the point that the Jets view him as the answer.
"I don’t think the book has been written on Sam," Johnson said. "He has a very big future. I personally hope it’s on this team."
That won’t be Johnson’s call.
"That decision is going to be made by Joe Douglas and our new coach," he said.
That’s the right call, especially with the Jets having the No. 2 pick and a chance at drafting Trevor Lawrence of Clemson (with Jacksonville possibly waffling on the presumptive top pick after his Sugar Bowl loss), Justin Fields of Ohio State, Zach Wilson of BYU or another quarterback of Douglas’ liking.
There also is a chance that Darnold will stay, with Douglas dealing for multiple picks to build around him.
It says here the time is right to move on from Darnold and let the new coach build around his quarterback of choice.
There is much work to be done, starting with the biggest decision of all: the coach. Get it right, and there’s a chance. Get it wrong, and there’s more heartache ahead.
"The weight of 10 years out of the playoffs, 50 years away from the Super Bowl, that weighs very heavily on my shoulders, and it should," Johnson said. "It spurs us on to get this coaching hire right. What we have in front of us is incredibly bright."
But only if Douglas can pull off what so many others before him have failed to do: finding a coach who can lift this team out of decades of misery.