Thursday, January 15, 2009

Coaching staff ramifications

As the coaching search continues, there has been one constant theme: how current Jets staff members will be affected by the new head coach. That notion first reared its ugly head when Bill Cowher spurned the Jets. While many, including myself, assert that Cowher simply was not going to coach this year, no matter what the Jets did, others believed that Mike Tannenbaum did not want to give up any power as general manager.

That idea floated back to the surface when Mike Shanahan's name briefly came up, and it's been on the tip of some Jets fans' tongues when they come to grips with another first-time head coach. When there's smoke, there's usually a little bit of fire, but personally, I think Tannenbaum has done a fine job.

The other mini-soap opera is that of offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. He's been mentioned as one of the top three head coaching candidates, along with Rex Ryan and Steve Spagnuolo, but since Schottenheimer is already on staff, there is a whole new dynamic which needs to be discussed.

Many in the front office feel he is a bright young football mind, and they want to keep him around. If that is the case, they need to decide in what capacity. If they make him the head coach, they obviously feel highly of him.

But if he is not the new head coach, then they are faced with the difficult situation of forcing an offensive coordinator on Ryan or Spagnuolo. And that problem may have a major role in Ryan's recent surge in popularity among Jets brass.

According to the Daily News, Ryan is willing to keep Schottenheimer on as offensive coordinator in case he took the head coaching job. Spagnuolo wants full control of the roster and coaching staff. While that is not a dealbreaker, chalk it up to a "pro" in Ryan's column and a "con" in Spagnuolo's.

For a reason why Ryan is willing to pass up bringing in his own guy, look no further than two seasons ago.

nitially, there was talk in league circles that Ryan would target Ravens quarterbacks coach Hugh Jackson as his offensive coordinator, but friends say Ryan learned a lesson two years ago while interviewing for the Chargers' head-coaching vacancy. Ryan didn't want to hire Ted Cottrell as his defensive coordinator - that was the preference of GM A.J. Smith - and it may have been a reason why he lost out to Norv Turner, who agreed to Cottrell. Turner wound up firing Cottrell this season.

As far as defensive coordinator goes, no matter who comes in, expect Bob Sutton to either be fired or reassigned. In the probable case of Ryan being hired, expect Ravens' outside linebackers coach Mike Pettine to be the choice.

Here is what Ryan himself has to say about Pettine.

"Mike is my right-hand man. Our backgrounds are very similar. My father is a legendary NFL coach and his father is a legendary football coach, who recently retired as the winningest HS football coach in Pennsylvania history. I know Mike will make a name for himself in this league. He's one of the best communicators I know, and he relates well with the players. He's smart, and he's dedicated."

For more on Pettine, click here for his Baltimore Ravens biography.

And the longer it goes before Spagnuolo's second interview, the better Ryan's odds get. That can't be stated enough. If and when Spags talks to Woody and Mike T, we'll know more about his chances. But every day until he comes in, Ryan seems to be a bigger favorite.

*And in any case, quarterbacks coach Brian Daboll is gone. Eric Mangini officially named him the offensive coordinator in Cleveland.

UPDATE (4:41 PM):
Adam Schefter reports pretty much the opposite of what I just posted. He says the Jets need to choose between Schottenheimer and Ryan, as Schefter expects Schottenheimer to try to leave in case the Jets sign Ryan.

I'll post more information as it unfolds...

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