The Jets’ search for a new head coach got an interesting wrinkle Monday.
The Eagles fired coach Doug Pederson, which led to immediate speculation by fans and media the Jets could be interested in him. The connection is easy to make. Jets general manager Joe Douglas worked in Philadelphia with Pederson from 2016-19 and the two won a Super Bowl together there in 2017.
Douglas has spoken highly of Pederson publicly, but there is nothing more than speculation at the moment that Douglas would be interested in hiring Pederson. The Jets completed interviews with Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith and Saints secondary coach Aaron Glenn on Monday. That brings the total to nine known candidates who have interviewed.
The Jets set out to conduct a wide-ranging search and have followed through. They have interviewed candidates with experience on both sides of the ball. They have interviewed only one candidate with previous head-coaching experience — Marvin Lewis.
The belief the Jets would jump at the chance to hire Pederson is incorrect. That is not to say he won’t be a candidate. They could interview him and eventually hire him. But it is not a slam dunk that Pederson will be the next Jets coach, as some are making it seem. Just because Douglas and Pederson worked closely together does not mean Douglas wants him as his coach.
There have been several reports Douglas and Pederson have a strong relationship, and Douglas praised Pederson on Adam Schefter’s podcast in 2019.
“Just the way Doug handled his first year,” Douglas said. “We started off 3-0, things were looking great, we lost some guys, we hit some potholes along the way, we finished the season 7-9 and the way that he attacked that offseason and how he was able to unify the team with his messaging. And the type of guy he is, he’s as genuine and authentic of a person as you’ll ever meet. He’s a guy who says what he means, and means what he says, and players believe in him and they believe in his aggressive mindset, and so I love how he managed the team.”
The 52-year-old Pederson is more of a known entity than most of the coaches the Jets have interviewed. He went 42-37-1 in five years with the Eagles and 4-2 in the playoffs, including the team’s lone Super Bowl win after the 2017 season.
The Eagles bottomed out this season, going 4-11-1 and quarterback Carson Wentz had a terrible year. Eagles ownership reportedly had concerns about the direction of the offense and Pederson’s vision for the future, particularly with his staff. There was also reported discord between Wentz and Pederson and a belief the two could no longer coexist. Pederson ended the season with one of the more curious coaching decisions in memory, benching quarterback Jalen Hurts against Washington when the game was still in reach for backup Nate Sudfeld. It appeared Pederson was trying to lose the game on purpose, which infuriated many, including some of his players and many Giants fans and their coach, Joe Judge.
The Jets may be reluctant to hire a coach who has just been fired, too. They did that two years ago with Adam Gase and the fan reaction was extremely negative. The Jets should not get caught up in the perception of this hire, but they might after the experience of the last two years with how unpopular Gase was.
The Eagles’ opening now means there are seven teams in the NFL with a head-coaching vacancy. The Jets are not known to have any more interviews scheduled. It appears that they will now regroup and decide whether to add any more candidates, including Pederson, or to invite coaches for a second interview. The first round of interviews was done remotely. It is believed the Jets will bring in a few finalists for in-person interviews in Florham Park, but coaches on teams who are still alive in the playoffs cannot interview in person yet.
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