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Sick and tired of losing, Jets CEO Christopher Johnson wants more well-rounded coach for franchise

Jets Chairman and CEO Christopher Johnson speaks to

Jets Chairman and CEO Christopher Johnson speaks to the press at a post season wrap up. Atlantic Health Jets Training Center in Florham Park, NJ, on Dec. 31, 2018. Credit: Corey Sipkin

Christopher Johnson is sick and tired of losing, and he believes that general manager Joe Douglas will make sure the Jets become a playoff team very soon by hiring someone who is very different from Adam Gase.

Johnson, the Jets CEO, relieved Gase of his duties on Sunday night after a 2-14 season. On Monday, Johnson made it clear that he wants a more well-rounded coach and that he has complete trust in Douglas to find the man who will end the longest current playoff drought in the NFL — 10 years.

"I’m sick of this," Johnson said. "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 — I think we can be a team that no one is going to want to see on their schedule even next year."

Johnson hired Gase two years ago because he believed he was an "innovator" and "coaching football to where it’s going." That blew up in his face as Gase went 9-23. The Jets finished last in offense both seasons under his leadership.

One of the many knocks on Gase was that he focused too much on the offensive side of the ball. He allowed former coordinator Gregg Williams to run the defense entirely. Johnson said the Jets will look for a "CEO" type of coach who oversees everything.

"It clearly didn’t work out," Johnson said. "We’re going to look forward to a different kind of coach with this next hire.

"I don’t like the term CEO," he added later, "but it does describe what we’re looking for. We want a head coach that coaches the entire team, end-to-end, and his staff. You don’t have to be offensive. You don’t have to be defensive. This is a coach for the entire team. That’s very important to us moving forward."

The Jets have begun what Johnson described as "a broad and deep search." Johnson and team president Hymie Elhai will be involved in the search for the next head coach, but Douglas is taking the lead on it.

"While this is a collaborative effort, his opinion will be taken most seriously," Johnson said. "I think the fans can feel safe knowing that we’re going to get this right."

The Jets reportedly have requested permission to interview Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus, Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley and Giants defensive coordinator Patrick Graham. They’re expected to seek permission from the Titans to speak to offensive coordinator Arthur Smith.

Other possible candidates include Ravens defensive coordinator Don "Wink" Martindale and offensive coordinator Greg Roman, 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, Iowa State’s Matt Campbell, Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh and Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley.

"We’ve already put in requests for some of our candidates," Johnson said. "I expect we’re going to start those interviews very shortly. We’re going to be doing those initially remotely. I’m hoping we can go through them relatively quickly."

Johnson believes the Jets are an appealing job because they have a young team and have two first-round picks this season, including the No. 2 choice overall. The Jets also have more than $73 million to spend in free agency.

"This is a really good landing spot for a coach," Johnson said. "Once we have that coach, once we stick the landing with this coaching hire, I think that the future of this team is very, very bright."

Another feature that could make it appealing is that Johnson said he is considering changing the organizational structure. The way it’s been for the Jets is that the coach and general manager each report to the owner. A more traditional setup is the coach reporting to the GM.

"Everything is up in the air here," Johnson said. "That is one of those things that we are considering changing."

Johnson could have dismissed Gase several times during the season, especially during their 0-13 start, but he said he didn’t think it would change much. He liked that the team was "locked in" and playing hard despite their record.

He also said he understood fans being upset that the Jets lost the No. 1 pick and a shot at Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence by winning two games near the end of the season. Johnson has no regrets, though.

"In this building, we play to win," he said. "I wouldn’t want anybody in this building who doesn’t want to win every damn game. The will to win is the heartbeat of the players that will take us back to the playoffs."

FRONT SEVEN

Head coaching candidates Jets may consider to replace Adam Gase:

1. Greg Roman: Ravens offensive coordinator has overseen a top-10 scoring offense the past two seasons and has ties to Jets GM Joe Douglas.

2. Eric Bieniemy: The Jets interviewed the Chiefs’ offensive coordinator two years ago and may not want to pass on Andy Reid’s protégé this time.

3. Brian Daboll: The Bills’ offensive coordinator has run one of the best and most creative offenses in the league and helped develop Josh Allen into a top quarterback.

4. Robert Saleh: The 49ers’ defensive coordinator devises great game plans, and is a fiery, passionate coach who inspires players and gets the most out of them

5. Don “Wink” Martindale: Another coach with ties to Douglas, the Ravens have had a top-10 defense all three years Martindale has been coordinator.

6. Matt Campbell: The Iowa State coach declined the Jets’ interview request before they hired Gase, but they could reach out again.

7. Arthur Smith: The Titans’ offensive coordinator has helped turn Tennessee into a top-5 offense and Adam Gase protégé Ryan Tannehill into a Pro Bowl QB.

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