Two days into the Jets' search for a new coach, the "extensive" field of candidates that CEO Christopher Johnson has compiled is beginning to emerge. It so far includes three assistants they've requested permission to interview, two former NFL head coaches and maybe a third. They've also shown an interest in dipping into the college ranks, where they will interview one former head coach, they've done background work on one big name, and were shot down by another.
There likely will be other candidates to emerge in the coming days. For now, here's a ranking of the known candidates for the job in a search that might last another couple of weeks:
1. Former Packers coach Mike McCarthy - Hands down, the most accomplished coach on the market and exactly what the Jets need. He's the one guy who can come in with a history of running a Top 10 offense and a long history of success as a head coach. He'll help groom Sam Darnold, he'll command instant respect in the locker room, and there'll be no doubt he knows what he's doing. The critics who say he never won enough with Aaron Rodgers as his quarterback don't give him credit for Rodgers' development. Also, nine trips to the playoffs, four trips to the NFC championship and one Super Bowl championship is a lot of winning. No one on the market has a resume like that.
2. Former Colts/Lions coach Jim Caldwell - He's not a big name, but he's got a terrific resume. He went 14-2 and reached the Super Bowl as a rookie head coach in Indianapolis and reached the playoffs the next season and quarterback Peyton Manning liked him and thrived in his offense. He went to the playoffs twice in four years in Detroit and Matthew Stafford had his best season under his direction. He's 63, but he's got experience, he's a winner, and he's a good offensive mind.
3. Former Dolphins coach Adam Gase - In 2016 he was the hottest coaching candidate on the market and went 10-6 and led the Dolphins to the playoffs as a rookie head coach. No, things haven't been good since and it seems some of his players quit on him in Miami. But that was also a dysfunctional situation with a questionable franchise quarterback (Ryan Tannehill) who was injured a lot. The 40-year-old is still respected around the league as a bright offensive mind. Plus, a lot of coaches are much better in their second jobs.
4. Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy - Obviously the Chiefs offense under his direction has been an enormous success this year, and young quarterback Pat Mahomes has become an MVP contender. The knock on him is that it's really Andy Reid's offense and the head coach calls the plays. That's fair. But his predecessor, Matt Nagy, was in a similar situation last year and then he was hired by the Chicago Bears and turned them into a playoff team. And the same could be said of Nagy's predecessor, Doug Pederson, who was hired by the Eagles and won a Super Bowl in his second season. Taking a branch off Reid's coaching tree can't be a bad idea.
5. USC offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury - As soon as the 39-year-old Kingsbury was fired from his job as the head coach at Texas Tech in November he had two offers immediately from NFL teams, according to SiriusXM NFL Radio's Gil Brandt. Soon more teams started lining up. That's how many in the NFL respect his offensive mind and potential as a head coach. He had a losing record with the Red Raiders, but he had a record-setting offense and helped develop quarterbacks like Baker Mayfield, Davis Webb and Pat Mahomes. Most think his first step into the NFL will be as an NFL coordinator, but the Jets - who reportedly plan to interview him - may see him as the young, offensive mind they need.
6. Buccaneers offensive coordinator Todd Monken - One source said the Jets are higher on the 52-year-old coordinator than is generally known. He has head coaching experience (at Southern Miss from 2013-15), but more importantly he worked wonders with the Bucs' offense this past season. It ranked third overall and first in passing, even though they forced to rotate Jameis Winston and journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback. Opposing defensive coordinators found his scheme creative and difficult to defend. The Jets appear to be the only team interested at the moment.
7. Cowboys defensive backs coach Kris Richard - The 39-year-old Richard is considered a bright, up-and-coming coach. His former players in Seattle, where he was the defensive backs coach and defensive coordinator for their Legion of Boom secondary, seem to love him. He's been on the NFL's head coaching radar for a couple of years. It's hard to understand why he's on the Jets' list, though. The last thing they need is another defensive assistant with no head coaching experience. He'd be another Todd Bowles, which would be a tough sell to everyone. The Jets need to hire someone with an offensive mind.
Other notes from the coaching search: The Jets are attempting to schedule interviews with McCarthy and Caldwell, and they have requested permission to speak with Bieniemy, Monken and Richard. Gase, according to an NFL source, has heard from most of the teams with a head coaching vacancy, but it's unclear if he'll interview with the Jets. The Jets requested an interview with Iowa State's Matt Campbell, but he declined according to the NFL Network. As for Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, the Jets did do some background work on him, a source confirmed, but many NFL sources believe that if he returns to the NFL this offseason it will be with the Miami Dolphins, not the Jets.