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Jets' search continues as Robert Saleh, Arthur Smith have second interviews

49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh looks on against

49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh looks on against Kansas City during the fourth quarter in Super Bowl LIV at Hard Rock Stadium on Feb. 2, 2020, in Miami Gardens, Fla. Credit: Getty Images/Tom Pennington

The Jets' search for a new head coach continues.

According to NFL Network, Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith was meeting with Jets officials Tuesday night. It’s not surprising that the Jets would be speaking with Smith for a second time. He’s someone they were high on and was expected to be a finalist and perhaps the person to replace Adam Gase as Jets coach.

Like Robert Saleh, who also has met with the Jets twice, Smith is in high demand. He had a second interview with the Falcons on Tuesday. He’s also scheduled to meet with the Eagles and Lions this week, unless the Jets decide he’s their man. They interviewed Smith virtually on Monday.

When Saleh flew in to meet with the Jets on Tuesday, several reports indicated that Saleh was the frontrunner. If that was the case, it’s doubtful general manager Joe Douglas would have let Saleh go, considering all of Saleh's options.

The 41-year-old is highly sought-after during this coaching cycle after leading one of the NFL’s best defenses the past two years. Saleh already has interviewed with the Lions, Chargers, Jaguars and Falcons. He was headed to meet with the Eagles after leaving his time with the Jets.

It doesn’t mean the Jets won’t circle back with Saleh. But they’re going forward with their search.

The Jets have interviewed nine known coaches virtually. By rule, the Jets can only meet in-person with candidates whose teams are out of the playoffs. Smith is one of four who are in that group. The others are Carolina offensive coordinator Joe Brady, Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus and former Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, who is an assistant at Arizona State.

Kansas City offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley and Saints secondary coach Aaron Glenn all have games this weekend. Two of them will become available. The Jets’ coaching search could go a couple more weeks depending on which teams advance.

In addition to Saleh and Smith, the Jets are rumored to be high on Daboll. There is a wild card in former Eagles coach Doug Pederson, who was fired on Monday. Douglas spent three years in Philadelphia’s front office before becoming the Jets general manager.

The Jets are looking for a good leader and communicator and someone who will manage and oversee both sides of the ball. Gase was too focused on the offense and trying to develop quarterback Sam Darnold. Gase was fired last week following a 2-14 season.

Smith and Daboll fit the Jets’ requirements. They both have experience coaching both sides of the ball, developing quarterbacks and running high-scoring offenses. Daboll is from the Bill Belichick and Nick Saban tree and has been on five Super Bowl winning teams in New England and a national champion in Alabama.

Saleh is one of the best defensive minds in the NFL, and a terrific leader. He played tight end in college, but he’s spent his entire NFL career coaching defense, the last four years as the 49ers coordinator.

It’s been rumored that Saleh would try to bring 49ers passing game coordinator Mike LaFleur with him to be offensive coordinator. LaFleur is the brother of Packers head coach Matt LaFleur. If not LaFleur, 49ers running game coordinator Mike McDaniel is a possibility.

Smith has been on the Titans staff for 10 seasons, first as a defensive quality control coach. He climbed the ranks, spending time as offensive quality control coach, linebackers coach and tight ends coach and became the Titans offensive coordinator last year.

Last season, Smith helped turn Ryan Tannehill – who played for Gase in Miami – into a Pro Bowl quarterback. He led the NFL in passer rating and helped the Titans reach the AFC Championship game. This season, the Titans finished second in yards and fourth in scoring.

New York Sports