Jets' Woody Johnson must replace Todd Bowles before taking UK job

As long as Woody Johnson doesn’t pick John Idzik as his chief of staff and Santonio Holmes as his envoy, he probably won’t do too much damage to relations with the United States’ chief ally as ambassador to Great Britain.

Before Johnson treks off to jolly old England, if his buddy Donald Trump tabs him for the prestigious post that would require him to live abroad, he needs to fire Todd Bowles.

Requirement for Bowles’ replacement: An offensive coach with NFL head coaching experience.

No more head coach rookies.

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No more defensive coaches.

The clear-cut No. 1 candidate: Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.

Big problem: Bill Belichick.

Belichick, overbearing and unrealistic in his expectations regarding loyalty, would cut off their friendship if McDaniels ever took the Jets job, just like he did when his former assistant Eric Mangini was hired by the Jets in 2006. Mangini got even for the shoddy treatment — Belichick had his key card to the building turned off before Mangini could clear out his office — by blowing the whistle on Belichick in Spygate in 2007.

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McDaniels is considered Belichick’s heir apparent in New England with no indication when Belichick is going to hang up his hoodie. He is the perfect coach for the Jets: He’s a state-of-the-art offensive coach in a league that puts a premium on coaches and quarterbacks, and he’s surely learned from failing in his first head coaching job in Denver.

Meanwhile, the implications of Johnson living abroad and not around the Jets are enormous.

Although he is not involved in the day-to-day football operations, no big football or business decision gets made without Johnson’s input and approval.

Pittsburgh owner Dan Rooney left the Steelers in the good hands of his son, team president Art II, who was already a major force in the organization, when he served as ambassador to Ireland from 2009-12. But none of Johnson’s family members are involved with the Jets. Team president Neil Glat is Johnson’s likely surrogate if he is named ambassador.

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Rooney had to give up his spots on league committees and his title with the Steelers went from chairman to chairman emeritus. Rooney lived in Ireland full-time and came home to see some games. He was in constant communication with the team executives.

Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels (c.) with head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady.

Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels (c.) with head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady.

(Chris Carlson/AP)

Johnson, in a diplomatic way, is going to have to make a major concession that not only the process was flawed that produced GM Mike Maccagnan and Bowles in 2015 but that the selection of Bowles was a mistake. That’s going to take some serious swallowing of Johnson’s pride, but Jets Nation gave him the go-ahead to make a coaching change once again by not bothering to show up for Monday night’s 41-10 blowout loss to the mediocre Colts.

So, where does Johnson go from here? Before we get into names, a few parameters on the search for a new head coach:

— Johnson has owned the Jets for nearly 17 years. He should have enough contacts and insight that he doesn’t need to rely on outside consultants to make important hires. Head hunter Jed Hughes found Idzik in 2013. That didn’t work out so well. Former GMs Charley Casserly and Ron Wolf led the search that resulted in Maccagnan and Bowles. Maccagnan worked for Casserly in Washington and Houston and Bowles played for Casserly in Washington. Casserly attempted to team him with Maccagnan’s good friend, Bills coach Doug Marrone, but Johnson scared off Marrone when the potential hire was not received well in New York. Johnson picked Bowles and then asked Maccagnan if he wanted to be the GM with Bowles as the coach. Maccagnan was not going to turn down the job, so he approved Bowles in a shotgun wedding. They each report to Johnson. Johnson didn’t learn when he forced Rex Ryan on Idzik as a condition of employment. The GM has to have a say in hiring the coach.

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— Bill Parcells, hired by Leon Hess in 1997, is the last Jets coach hired with NFL head coaching experience. Al Groh, who was hired by Parcells shortly after Johnson bought the team, is the last Jets coach with head coaching experience at any level. He was the head coach at Wake Forest from 1981-86. He quit the Jets after one season and was hired as head coach by Virginia, his alma mater. Since then for the Jets, it’s been Herm Edwards, Mangini, Ryan and Bowles. All were defensive coaches, none had been a head coach at any level.

Now, the candidates:

— McDaniels: He tried too hard to be Belichick when he was hired as the Broncos head coach in 2009. There is only one Belichick, thank goodness. McDaniels was just 33 years old. He was fired during his second season in Denver after just 28 games with an 11-17 record. Bowles has coached the Jets for 28 games and is 13-15. McDaniel is beloved by Tom Brady. Can he do good work with a QB who is not the best in NFL history? I like his chances to develop Christian Hackenberg over Chan Gailey. You want the best coach on the staff coaching the quarterback, the most important player on the team. The head coach should be the best coach.

Lane Kiffin.

Lane Kiffin.

(Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

— Mike McCarthy, Packers head coach: Has his time run out at Lambeau? He’s had Aaron Rodgers, one of the top three quarterbacks in the league, and been to just one Super Bowl in what is now Rodgers’ ninth year starting. He is 110-61-1 in the regular season and 8-7 in the playoffs, including two losses at home to the Giants. Green Bay is just 6-6 this season.

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— Lane Kiffin, Alabama offensive coordinator: He’s only 41 and has lots of energy and personality. He was fired after 20 games as Raiders head coach by Al Davis with a 5-15 record. But so was Mike Shanahan (he was 8-12), and he then won two Super Bowls with Denver. Kiffin was fired at the airport by USC athletic director Pat Haden upon returning from a 62-41 loss at Arizona early in his fourth season in 2013, but he inherited a bad situation with scholarship limitations from infractions incurred during Pete Carroll’s regime. Saban has praised Kiffin’s work the last three years, transforming Alabama into a multi-dimensional offense.

— Jon Gruden: How much fun would Chuckie be on the New York stage? He hasn’t coached since getting fired by the Bucs following the 2008 season, but is still a cutting-edge offensive coach who has stayed in touch with the game as an analyst on Monday Night Football and his pre-draft QB Camp series on ESPN. This could be double blessing: The Jets get an offensive whiz and it gets Gruden off the Monday night games.

— Todd Haley, Steelers offensive coordinator: He won over Big Ben, which is not easy. He’s a former Jets assistant, a Parcells discipline and the son of Dick Haley, a former Jets personnel director. He was also the head coach of the Chiefs. He was 19-26 before he was fired late in his third season. He’s an emotional coach, a nice changeup from Bowles. This is his fifth year with Roethlisberger.

— Scott Linehan, Cowboys offensive coordinator: He’s done an amazing job with rookie Dak Prescott considering he had only two weeks to prepare him to start after Tony Romo was injured in the third preseason game. He was only 11-25 as coach of the Rams from 2006-08, but since the early years of Kurt Warner, nobody wins with the Rams.

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Bowles is over his head with the Jets. Johnson needs to do the right thing before he possibly heads across the pond.

Tags:
nfl
new york jets
woody johnson
todd bowles
josh mcdaniels
lane kiffin
jon gruden

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