Be bold, Woody: Jets’ fresh start needs young offensive mind


NY Jets’ top coaching targets should begin with Kyle Shanahan, P.J. Fleck and Sean McVay

By Greg DePalma, PSN executive producer

>>Listen live to Jets Confidential Radio, Friday at 4 p.m. ET

Washington Redskins offensive coordinator Sean McVay stands on the sideline during an NFL preseason football game against the Cleveland Browns, Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/David Richard)

It’s time for New York Jets owner Woody Johnson to make a bold statement and hire either Western Michigan’s P.J. Fleck, Atlanta’s Kyle Shanahan or Washington’s Sean McVay as his next head coach.

What does the trio have in common? All three are known for their offensive creativity and are under 37 years of age. For an organization that needs a major top-to-bottom infusion of excitement — as well as a modern approach to offense — these three young coaches more than fit the bill.

It doesn’t take a Dr. Ben Carson to know that the Jets’ main issue for most of its existence has been on that side of the ball. Their inability to scout, draft and coach up a franchise quarterback has held them back for so long that it’s actually getting tiresome to bring up the name of Broadway Joe Namath.

Hey, if you don’t have an all-time defense like the ’86 Bears, ‘01 Ravens, ‘03 Bucs or the ’16 Broncos, you must carry an elite-level quarterback on your roster or you’ll fail to have any sort of quantitative success in this league.

Of course, if Johnson really wants to be a hero-owner, he can try to persuade Urban Meyer to leave Ohio State. That goes for Jim Harbaugh at Michigan, too. At least make the call. All they can do is say no.

Sure, they might laugh a bit after you pop the question, but how much more embarrassment can be levied after watching that pathetic performance against the Colts on Monday night?

While he’s at it, I would also recommend a call to Dabo Swinney at Clemson and Kevin Sumlin at Texas A&M. Both are highly successful college head coaches from the offensive side who bring years of winning experience from Power Five programs.

Swinney could come with a package deal if the Jets were to select Clemson QB Deshaun Watson in next spring’s NFL Draft.

But let’s get back to our three promising coaches.

Fleck, 36, is a charismatic Pete Carroll-type who has Western Michigan unbeaten in his fourth season. The Broncos are headed to the Cotton Bowl for New Year’s, where they’ll face Big Ten runner-up Wisconsin.

Fleck’s infectious energy and enthusiasm has caught on so much that his locker room pregame speeches have become commonplace on ESPN.

If Johnson is reluctant to hire someone without pro coaching experience, Shanahan and McVay are hot offensive coordinators.

Shanahan, like Fleck, is 36. His bloodlines are NFL strong, as father Mike was hired by the Los Angeles Raiders at 35 and then later went on to capture consecutive Super Bowl championships with Denver in 1997 and ‘98.

Kyle has proven himself not once but twice as a coordinator, starting with his ability to develop rookie QB Robert Griffin III into the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2012 as the Redskins earned a playoff trip for the first time in five seasons.

Now in Atlanta, Shanahan is in his second season and is a key reason why the Falcons rank No.3 in total offense.

Meanwhile, Shanahan’s former team in Washington has McVay. The 30-year-old former college receiver has been instrumental in the development of QB Kirk Cousins.

As an added plus, if the Jets hire McVay they might stand a chance in landing Cousins as well, due to the Redskins’ inability to grant him a long-term deal this past summer.

If McVay were to get the Jets job and Cousins were to play hardball, the ‘Skins could place the tag on him again and force the Jets to part with two first-round picks in return. Considering how desperate the Jets are in acquiring a franchise quarterback, that offer could be too good to pass up and would be a great way to energize the long-suffering fan base.

And like Shanahan, McVay also has successful NFL bloodlines. His grandfather, John, coached the New York Giants 40 years ago. Could another McVay be coaching in New York someday soon?

Dare to dream, Jets fans. Dare to dream.

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