Former Packers coach Mike McCarthy met with Jets officials and presumably laid out his plan on how he would get the most out of Sam Darnold.
The Jets want their next head coach to be someone who helped develop a young quarterback. CEO Christopher Johnson said that would be “a big plus.”
McCarthy, considered by many to be the top coach available, helped Aaron Rodgers become one of the best quarterbacks in the league. McCarthy went 125-77-2 in parts of 13 seasons with the Packers, guided them to nine playoff appearances and won one Super Bowl.
He has been criticized for not winning more with Rodgers, though, and his exit from Green Bay has raised concerns. With the Packers 4-7-1, he was fired in December amid reports of discord with his star player.
Rodgers openly criticized McCarthy’s game plan after a September victory over Buffalo, but he has said he and McCarthy had a close working relationship and tried to dispel the belief that a rift got McCarthy fired.
“I think him and I, like any relationship, we have our amazing times, we have our times when we butt heads,” Rodgers said after McCarthy was let go. “As much as what was made, conjecture about [our] relationship, it was always built on mutual respect and communication . . . We accomplished a lot together. We had some incredible moments.”
He also said at the time, “It’s a close-knit relationship. We would finish every time that we talked — whether it’s Monday afternoon up in his office or the Thursdays we used to spend in the team room or Friday upstairs or Saturday in the QB room — and we’d hug each other and tell each other we love each other. I mean, we had a close-knit bond.”
The Jets want Todd Bowles’ replacement to be someone who is offensive-minded and can help Darnold become the franchise-changing quarterback they believe he can be.
Many of the candidates whom Johnson and general manager Mike Maccagnan have met with or will meet with have an offensive background. McCarthy’s is extensive, as he has worked on the offensive side of the ball since beginning his coaching career with the Chiefs in 1993.
McCarthy, 55, started out as an offensive quality control coach for the Chiefs before becoming their quarterbacks coach. From there, he spent one season as the Packers’ quarterbacks coach and the next five as the Saints’ offensive coordinator. McCarthy also served as the 49ers’ offensive coordinator for one season before taking over in Green Bay.
In his 12 full seasons, in which he worked with Brett Favre and Rodgers, the Packers finished in the top 10 in offense nine times and in scoring eight times. The Jets ranked 29th in yards this past season and 23rd in scoring.
McCarthy is the Jets’ third known interview. Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy was the first person the Jets interviewed. They also met with former Dolphins coach Adam Gase, who spent five years as an offensive coordinator or quarterbacks coach before taking over in Miami in 2016.
Things should start picking up as their search enters its second week.
They also have expressed interest in Cowboys defensive backs coach/passing game coordinator Kris Richard, whom they’re expected to interview Sunday in Texas after Dallas’ wild-card playoff win Saturday night. While they are in Texas, they could meet with other candidates, including Baylor coach Matt Rhule.
Other candidates include former Colts and Lions coach Jim Caldwell and Buccaneers offensive coordinator Todd Monken. The Jets reportedly will interview Monken on Tuesday.
Former Texas Tech coach and current USC offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury also is in the mix, but ESPN reported that USC has denied the Jets and Cardinals permission to interview Kingsbury. That could change.
McCarthy has limited the teams with which he has talked, though the Jets and Browns are two that pique his interest.
Both teams have promising young quarterbacks in Darnold and Baker Mayfield. McCarthy reportedly turned down the Cardinals.
Darnold is expected to be a lure for many candidates, and the Jets have roughly $100 million in cap space available for free agency. Johnson sounds committed to turning around their fortunes, which means they will spend on a coach and for players.
The eight NFL coaching vacancies:
Team Former coach
Bengals Marvin Lewis
Broncos Vance Joseph
Buccaneers Dirk Koetter
Browns Hugh Jackson
Cardinals Steve Wilks
Dolphins Adam Gase
Jets Todd Bowles
Packers Mike McCarthy