Who's Next?

Michael PolakContributor IDecember 30, 2008

Out. Done. Finished. See Ya!

Eric Mangini is officially out as head coach of the New York Jets. After the Jets completed one of the most historic collapses in their history, owner Woody Johnson elected to dispose of the 37-year old coach.

So now the team must move on and search for a replacement. Fortunately, there is a bountiful crop of candidates out there to replace him.

The obvious candidate for the job is Bill Cowher. The former head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers originally seemed interested in the job, but reports late on Tuesday said his agent told the Jets Cowher was in fact not interested.

If the Jets seriously want to improve, finding a way to bring in a guy with a 161-99-1 record and a Super Bowl title in 15 seasons with the Steelers would be their best option.

Another strong candidate is current New York Giants Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. While he does not have any experience as a head coach, he has transformed the Giants into one of the best defensive teams in the NFL.

During the 2008 season, the Giants ranked eighth in the league in pass defense. The Jets: 29th. It is clear Gang Green needs some serious help defending the pass. Bringing on Spagnuolo, a guy who has a great relationship with players and also won a Super Bowl recently would certainly be another solid choice.

After those two, the Jets have a laundry list of other coaches to choose from. Some of these include Marty Schottenheimer, Mike Shanahan, and Jim Schwartz.

Schottenheimer found success while with the Chargers and might do so again in New York. His son, Brian, who also could be a candidate for the job, is the team’s Offensive Coordinator for now as well. However, will he have another clash with front office personnel?

Shanahan was fired on Tuesday as head coach of the Broncos after they too collapsed their way out of a playoff spot. Shanahan is a two-time Super Bowl winner in Denver but has had some up-and-down years recently. If none of the other options work out, he is a viable fall-back option.

Schwartz, the Titans Defensive Coordinator, has also come under the spotlight like Spagnuolo with his great work in Tennessee on the defensive end. His six seasons of work have paid off in his team getting the No. 1 seed in the AFC East, thanks largely to his team having the seventh best defense in the league.

He has connections with Tannenbaum, too, which helps.

A final big question that could decide who coaches the team is whether or not Brett Favre returns at quarterback. Whether Spagnuolo or Schwartz come aboard could depend on how they view the team’s situation at the position since their focus has been on defense.

However, Schwartz could end up swaying Kerry Collins to come to the Jets since he will be a free agent. Cowher, Shanahan and Schottenheimer have worked with some of the best quarterbacks in the business and could help mold one around the rest of the talented Jets roster.

Bottom line is, there are several options for the Jets to replace Mangini. The bright lights of New York could be either a positive or negative. Either way, it is likely the Jets will get one of these five coaches.

Their roster features more notable players compared to other teams in need of a QB (Detroit, St. Louis, San Francisco). If Favre does stay on, he’ll want a prime coach to bring the team success. However, the team can’t fall into the trap of finding immediate success. Look how it turned out this past year!