New York Jets rumors: Team chasing after big-name head coach

Check in here for the latest New York Jets rumors, as the team decides on the futures of Sam Darnold, Adam Gase and more on the cusp of a new era.

By Matt Fitzgerald
Nov 30, 2019; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh during the first quarter against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

New York Jets rumors: We already know that the winless Jets are going to be in store for some major changes once the 2020 NFL season comes to a conclusion. Some of the focus has been on quarterback Sam Darnold, who might move on. However, the future of embattled head coach Adam Gase is the biggest storyline in Jersey right now.

We now have some more information on Gase and a potential replacement for the struggling head coach. It’s rather interesting stuff for Jets fans.

New York Jets rumors: Team chasing after big-name head coach

“I had a conversation with an incredible source who said that Jets GM Joe Douglas would get the job done if he’s given a chance. That doesn’t mean he’s going to be fired — he’s not going to be fired — but what I’m hearing is that the Jets are going to look for an alpha dog head coach. They’re going to be looking for a big name — a strong personality — rather than someone like a Joe Brady type,” NFL insider Tony Pauline of Pro Football Network reported on Sunday.

There’s no specifics at this point. However, the expectation is that the Jets’ next head coach will be offensive-minded. Whether Sam Darnold returns or New York selects Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence at No. 1 should the team earn that pick, having someone to work with said quarterback is important.

Related: 2021 NFL mock draft – New York Jets rebuild offense, surprise team trades up for QB in 2021 NFL Draft.

Recent reports suggest that Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh is looking to return to the NFL. Whether he would be a fit with the Jets remains to be seen. What we do know is that at least five NFL teams are interested in the former San Francisco 49ers head coach. He would make some sense for the Jets.

Updated: Dec. 13, 6:24 PM EST

The New York Jets are in the midst of a winless, tanking 2020 season, and while that could lead to the No. 1 pick in the 2021 draft, members of the team are speaking out about how they’d spend that premium asset.

Rumors out of the Jets organization suggest current players are high on quarterback Sam Darnold, and have seen enough upside from him to conclude he can be the long-term answer under center.

Related: 2021 NFL mock draft – New York Jets rebuild offense, surprise team trades up for QB in 2021 NFL Draft.

New York Jets rumors: Sam Darnold favored over Trevor Lawrence?

New York Jets rumors: Players believe in Sam Darnold
New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold (14) celebrates his touchdown in the second half against the Las Vegas Raiders. The Jets lose to the Raiders, 31-28, at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, in East Rutherford.

It may sound absurd, but Bleacher Report draft guru and NFL insider Matt Miller spoke to multiple Jets players as part of a recent piece, and there are several telling quotes about how much Darnold’s teammates believe in him.

Miller asked one Jets player if he thought about how Week 13’s last-second loss to the Las Vegas Raiders could’ve cost them a shot at Clemson signal-caller Trevor Lawrence, to which the player replied, “We believe in Sam.”

Another experienced pro who plays for New York added, per Miller, “Look at what Sam has around him. Even [Joe] Burrow in Cincinnati has a lot more weapons. We have some dudes, but they’re all young.”

Now that’s saying something. Burrow had an exceptional rookie campaign despite playing behind a horrid offensive line, whose protection broke down one time too many at a key moment and resulted in a season-ending knee injury for the Bengals’ hopeful franchise savior.

Nevertheless, the point still stands: It’s not as if Darnold has had much support. Since being drafted third overall in 2018, the team has changed general managers, and is about to be on its third different head coach after this year, presuming GM Joe Douglas fires Adam Gase. The latter was hailed as an offensive genius prior to his disastrous Jets tenure, yet Gase has failed to develop Darnold competently, which could cause Douglas to pull the trigger on Lawrence in the draft.

Related: 4 likeliest Sam Darnold trade scenarios

New York Jets rumors: Pros, cons of trading No. 1 pick

New York Jets rumors: Team can't afford to pass on Trevor Lawrence
Jan 13, 2020; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Clemson Tigers quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) in the College Football Playoff national championship game against the LSU Tigers at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

To keep the pros rather succinct, as there aren’t many: Douglas could net a massive haul in a hypothetical trade, provided the Jets, ahem, *hold on* to the No. 1 overall pick, and deal it to a QB-desperate team who wants Lawrence. Not only would it include, most likely, multiple first-round picks and more cheap contracts to build around, but Lawrence is the type of guy who could yield one or even two established star players. That way, all the pressure isn’t on Douglas to hit on future draft choices, and there won’t be so many growing pains with too many young players.

There’s at least talent and upside still to explore with Darnold, too. It’s obvious New York has lacked continuity, competence and enough high-end personnel to aid his growth over the past three seasons.

Now, let’s transition to some startling stats to underscore how poor the Jets are at developing quarterbacks through the years. Darnold holds their rookie record for completion percentage (57.7%) and passer rating (77.6). Talk about low bars for Lawrence to clear, and there’s little doubt he would. In terms of skill set, Lawrence has superior arm talent, accuracy, running ability, football IQ, decision-making and doesn’t turn the ball over nearly as much as Darnold did coming out of USC.

It’s widely believed Lawrence is the best prospect at the position in almost a decade, in the same stratosphere as Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning and John Elway of years past. That’s quite the company to be in. Douglas would be absolutely kicking himself for missing out on Lawrence if he reaches the heights he’s expected to in the NFL. Also, whichever coach Douglas hires after Gase wouldn’t have to deal with a quarterback in Darnold he had no say in acquiring. Part of what makes the Jets’ impending coaching vacancy so attractive is the possibility of coaching Lawrence.

If Darnold were showing more flashes of brilliance and consistency to justify his gaudy draft status, perhaps Douglas would take player feedback into account and keep him around. However, to date, Darnold has an 11-23 record as a starter, a mediocre TD-to-INT ratio of 41-37 and a 78.0 career passer rating. Ball security is a perpetual issue, as are ill-advised throws and a failure to elevate the pieces the Jets do have around him.

The bottom line is this: Douglas and the Jets will probably be more at peace with drafting Lawrence and seeing Darnold thrive with a new team and a fresh start. Taking a risk on future, unproven commodities in a prospective draft-day trade to give Darnold a fourth season as Jets starter seems misguided and potentially the most regrettable mistake in franchise history.

Lawrence has the talent to transcend dysfunction and early losing before turning things around. It appears abundantly clear to this point Darnold doesn’t have that gear.

Related: 5 moves that must be made to accelerate New York Jets rebuild