Dan Leberfeld's Blog

Some thoughts on QB’s in the first Senior Bowl practice 01.20.15

Mobile – The North team practiced first today at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.

The three quarterbacks on that squad are Oregon State’s Sean Mannion, Baylor’s Bryce Petty and East Carolina’s Shane Carden.

I know it was just one practice, but the best QB on the field in this session was clearly Carden.

Carden was confident, accurate and displayed good pocket presence. He seemed more in command than the other two signal-callers.

Mannion and Petty displayed inconsistent accuracy.

Carden was clearly behind Mannion and Petty as far as reps, but when he got his chance, he certainly too advantage of it.


No salary cap on assistant coaches 01.14.15

While there is a salary cap on players, there is no salary cap on coaches.

So Woody Johnson should give Todd Bowles carte blanche to hire who he wants, and and how many assistants he wants.

Former NFL linebacker Chad Cascadden called the Jets, “a poorly coached team” last year.

This needs to change, and aside from hiring Todd Bowles to help change it, the Jets should spend whatever it takes to put together a top-shelf staff of teachers, strategists and disciplinarians.

“You could have 47 coaches if you wanted, there is no cap on coaches,” said Gil Brandt on SiriusXM NFL Radio.

Brandt’s point is that you can hire and spend whatever you want on a staff.

I don’t see the books, but it seems like the Jets could have spent a little more on last year’s staff. The linebacker coach was very young, the special teams coach had never led an NFL special team’s unit and the secondary coach spent most of his coaching life in the high school ranks.

Too often I saw youthful quality control coach Tony Sparano Jr. tutoring Tahj Boyd last summer. Nothing against Sparano Jr., but is he a quarterback guru?

Johnson and Neil Glat (who runs the business side) need to give Bowles a blank check, and say, “hire the best staff possible, and don’t worry about the money.”


Bowles a better fit 01.13.15

The Jets have hired Todd Bowles as their head coach.

The announcement was made by ESPN’s Josina Anderson and NFL Network’s Albert Breer.

Bowles was the Arizona Cardinals’ defensive coordinator the last two years.

Bowles might be a little better fit for the Jets’ schematically than Dan Quinn.

Bowles likes to play a 3-4 defense. He has a background with Bill Parcells (a big 3-4 guy).

The Jets have been a building a 3-4 defense in the draft and free agency since 2006.

Bowles’ approach is very similar to what the Jets have been doing.

And Jets GM Mike Maccagnan has been drafting for a 3-4 defense for the last eight years in Houston, first for Gary Kubiak, and then Bill O’Brien.

Bowles did a great job with an Arizona defense this past season that was ravaged by injuries and a major suspension. Bowles lost three key players before the season started with OLB John Abraham retiring due to a concussion, stud DT Darnell Dockett blowing his knee out, and playmaking ILB Darryl Washington getting suspended for the season due to a substance issue.

Those are three very excellent players, but Bowles kept the defense rolling without them.

The Seattle defense, which Quinn runs with Pete Carroll, and is obviously very successful, is a 4-3 base, and features smaller, quicker linebackers than the Jets’ scheme. It could have been an ugly transition the next year or two.

Bowles and Quinn were both terrific candidates, but Bowles might be a little better fit.

And honestly, who even knows if Quinn would have taken the job. Other teams are interested, and I’ve heard Seattle owner Paul Allen might offer him a big raise to stay another year.


Maccagan hire makes a lot of sense 01.13.15

The Jets hired Mike Maccagnan as their new GM. The announcement was made by Jets owner Woody Johnson.

““Mike’s attention to detail, strong personnel background made it clear that he is the right choice to be the next General Manager of the New York Jets,” said Johnson. “We are proud to welcome Mike to the organization and I am confident that he will help us build a winning team.”

“Mike Maccagnan is an outstanding football man, one who is highly organized, and an excellent evaluator,” said Jets consultant Charlie Casserly. “He is very thorough in his preparation and will do a terrific job for the Jets.”

“I was impressed by Mike Maccagnan’s professionalism, intelligence, preparation, awareness and attention to detail,” said Jets consultant Ron Wolf. “He has a great understanding of this league and the skill and ability to evaluate personnel.”

Maccagnan started with the Houston Texans in 2000, shortly after the team’s inception, and spent his first 10 seasons with the club as the coordinator of college scouting. In 2010, he was promoted to the assistant director of college scouting before being named the director of college scouting (2011).

In his time with Houston, WR Andre Johnson, DEs Mario Williams and J.J. Watt all were selected by the Texans, while four-time Pro Bowl RB Arian Foster was signed as an undrafted rookie free agent.

“In my line of work, having the chance to serve as a general manager is what you work towards your entire career,” Maccagnan said. “We have a solid foundation of players and a state-of-the-art facility in one of the most exciting and dynamic areas in America. As with all teams, there are some areas we need to address, but we’re going to hire the right head coach, evaluate our personnel, and work together to build a football operation to get the New York Jets back on the winning track.”

Prior to joining the Texans, Maccagnan spent six seasons with the Washington Redskins, first as a college scout (1994) and then as a pro scout (1995-99). Before Washington, he served as the director of scouting for the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the CFL (1994), and the director of scouting and director of player personnel for the Ottawa Rough Riders (1993). He spent time in the World League, originally as a scout in the league’s Dallas office (1990) and then joined the London Monarchs (1991) for their championship season. His first job in the NFL came as a scouting department intern for the Redskins (1990).

Maccagnan has certainly paid his dues in the scouting universe.

We will see how he does, but based on what the Jets need, with his pedigree, he seems like an ideal fit for their GM role.


If the Daily News had anything to do with Marrone fading, that is unfortunate 01.12.15

Daily News writers Mike Lupica and Manish Mehta have been very critical of Doug Marrone, who is a candidate for the Jets’ head coaching job.

ESPN New York writer Rich Cimini thinks that the vicious coverage of Marrone, in the Daily News, might have hurt his image with the Jets’ owner.

“The Marrone mystery: Something smells fishy with the entire Doug Marrone candidacy,” wrote Cimini for ESPN New York. “In less than four days, he went from a strong candidate to the forgotten man — and two people familiar with Woody Johnson believe the owner got cold feet because of some negative press surrounding Marrone. One person said Johnson reacts to the whims of the public, adding, ‘He listens to whoever has his ear last.’ If Johnson is skittish because of the possibility his final choice wouldn’t be universally applauded, shame on him. That would be no way to run a franchise.

“If Marrone’s candidacy is fading, it’s probably because others were better in the interviews. That’s what you want to believe if you’re a Jets’ fan. You don’t even want to think about the alternative.”

Cimini’s correct. If Marrone has faded as a candidate because the Jets feel other hopefuls are better, that is fine.

But if the vitriol in the Daily News impacted the owner one iota, that is unfortunate. It should not.


The Todd Bowles news is interesting . . . 01.12.15

The Jets are bringing in Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles for a second interview. The announcement was made by Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network.

The Jets are also going to interview Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott this week. That announcement was made by ESPN’s Dan Graziano.

But the Bowles news is a little more interesting to me because it’s a second interview. McDermott is coming in for the first time.

You don’t do second interviews for the heck of it. Second interviews generally connote major interest.

It has been reported that the leading candidate for the job is Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. ESPN’s Adam Schefter announced on Sunday that the Jets were prepared to send a plane to Seattle For Quinn, if the Seahawks had lost to Carolina, which they did not.

On paper, Bowles is every bit the candidate as Quinn. They are both well-respected NFL defensive coordinators.

In fact, Bowles’ resume might be a little stronger than Quinn’s, due to the fact that Bowles clearly ran the Arizona defense the last two years. Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians is an offensive guy, and he gave Bowles total autonomy. Quinn worked under Pete Carroll, one of the top defensive minds in football. Carroll is obviously very involved on that side of the ball.

That doesn’t make Quinn a lesser-candidate, but as Vin Scully would say, “it’s interesting to note.”

Like Quinn, Bowles is a New Jersey-native. Bowles is from Elizabeth, and Quinn is from Morris Township.

It’s incumbent on Jets owner Woody Johnson to pick a candidate his new general manager is in lockstep with, so the new GM should have a major say in the choice.

It’s hard to say who the likely GM Mike Maccagnan would favor between Bowles and Quinn.


Jets should not hold this against C.J. 01.11.15

On Friday, Jets running back Chris Johnson was arrested in Orlando on a misdemeanor gun charge.

He was charged with open carry, a second-degree misdemeanor.

Johnson was pulled over for not stopping at a stop sign. When an officer came over to his car, she saw part of a gun between his feet.

The Jets shouldn’t release Johnson over this.

The gun was legal. He just did a bad job of hiding it. Clearly he’s got to do a better job of doing this in the future.

But Johnson having a gun shouldn’t be the issue here. He’s a public figure, who makes a lot of money, and could be a target.

We are living in a very dangerous world right now.

If the Jets chose to release Johnson this off-season, it shouldn’t be over this. If they feel he doesn’t fit their plans moving forward, that is another story.


Here is a good backup plan for Rex 01.11.15

Rex Ryan is going to be the next coach of the Buffalo Bills.

Some wonder why Ryan would take this job, considering their quarterback situation is far from ideal.

The Bills likely starter next year is the team’s 2013 first round pick, E.J, Manuel, who is still a major work-in-progress.

Why would Rex jump into another situation, with a weak QB situation, after he never had a franchise QB during his time with the Jets?

Perhaps it was the only job he had a realistic shot of landing. It looks like Atlanta said, “thanks, but no thanks.”

So what can Rex and Bill GM Doug Whaley do for Manuel insurance?

Give Mike Vick a call?

I know a lot of people don’t agree, but I think Vick can still play. I’m not going to hold that awful game in Detroit, against Buffalo, against him. He had a bad game. it’s happens to the best of them.

We saw in Jets games against Pittsburgh and Kansas City that the guy still has game.

Vick still has world class speed and has maintained great arm strength.

And he has a lot of game experience, which is huge at such a challenging position. Playing QB in the NFL is one of the most difficult jobs in all of sports. Vick has started 112 NFL games. He’s 34. There are quite a few NFL starters in their mid-late 30’s.

Vick could be terrific backup plan for the Bills in case Manuel doesn’t work out.


Something to ponder about the Jets search . . . 01.11.15

It looks like long-time Houston Texans executive Mike Maccagnan is going to be the Jets’ next GM.

So who will be the coach?

Most arrows point to Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn getting that job.

But, you have to wonder, if Woody Johnson told Maccagnan – “Mike, it’s totally up to you who the Jets’ head coach is going to be. You make the call,” what would his answer be?

It’s clear the Johnson loves Quinn, who seems like a very good candidate.

But in his heart of hearts, would that be Maccagnan’s choice?

Let’s be honest, Maccagnan wants to be an NFL GM very badly. He’s been working towards this day for the last two decades.

I’m not saying he doesn’t like Quinn. I’m sure he does.

But while Maccagnan is a fine candidate, it’s not like he has a lot of other offers.

Do you really think he’s going to fight with Johnson over this, and risk not getting the job?

Maccagnan has a background with Doug Marrone and Gary Kubiak.

We are unaware of any connection to Quinn.

Once again, don’t get me wrong. I like Quinn as a candidate. The guy has paid his dues. From what I hear, he’s an outside the box thinker, which is always a good thing.

I’m just asking the question – if you left this decision entirely up to Maccagnan, who would he pick?


Bills hiring Rex doesn’t mean Jets made a mistake 01.11.15

Rex Ryan is going to be hired as the Buffalo Bills’ coach. The announcement was made by Adam Schefter.

He might do a terrific job there. We will see.

But no matter what the results are in Buffalo, the Jets did the right thing making a coaching change following the 2014 season.

It was time.

The Jets needed a change.

And perhaps Rex needed a change of scenery.

The Jets missed the playoffs four years in a row.

The Jets need more discipline and accountability at this stage of the game.


Jets should not force 01.10.15

New Jersey – Mike Maccagnan has emerged as a favorite for the Jets’ GM job.

If he does get the job, the Jets need to make him an integral part of their search for a head coach.

Woody Johnson and the consultants should not force a head coach on him.

After two years of the head coach and GM not always being on the same page, the Jets need to make sure their new coach and GM are in lockstep ideologically.

Let’s say Maccagnan is hired, and he prefers somebody like Doug Marrone or Gary Kubiak over Dan Quinn, don’t force Quinn on him.

The Jets need to hire a GM first, and get him heavily involved in the coach interviews.

And his vote for who the new coach should be, probably should be the most important one in the board room.


Thoughts on Maccagnan 01.08.15

Houston Texans director of college scouting Mike Maccagnan will get a second interview for the Jets’ vacant GM spot. The announcement was made by ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Here is his bio . . .

“Maccagnan is entering his 15th year in the Texans scouting department. For the last four years, he has been their director of college scouting, coordinating all of the Texans’ college scouting efforts. In his current role, he also involved with evaluating NFL teams and prospects in preparation for NFL free agency.

“Prior arriving in Houston, Maccagnan spent the previous six years as a scout for the Washington Redskins. Prior to his tenure with the Redskins, Maccagnan was the director of scouting and player personnel for the CFL’s Ottawa Rough Riders and Saskatchewan Roughriders (1994). He also was the director of player personnel for the World League’s London Monarchs when that franchise captured the league championship in 1991. In 1990, Maccagnan worked in the World League office as a league scout.”

He worked for Jets consultant Charlie Casserly in both Washington and Houston. Casserly was the GM of both of those teams.

Maccagnan has certainly paid his dues in the world of scouting, and is well-respected around the league.

He is just the kind of GM the Jets need at this stage – a top-shelf evaluator of player personnel with a lot of experience mining the college and NFL free agent ranks for talent.

Some have expressed concern that the low-key Maccagnan won’t be great with the challenging New York media.

That should be way down on the priority list.

Yes, it should be a slight consideration, but not a major one. As long as he’s not thin-skinned and combative, and answers the questions in a respectful, professional manner, he should be fine, if he gets the job. And honestly, how often do NFL GM’s really deal with the media? Around the draft, and perhaps on a couple other occasions?

If the Jets decide to pick Maccagnan for their GM spot, it would seem like a very solid choice.


This paints a poor picture of Jets and it needs to change 01.07.15

Boomer Esiason’s old friend Frank Reich is interviewing with the Jets today for their head coaching spot. Reich, a former Buffalo Bills quarterback, is currently an assistant with the San Diego Chargers.

Esiason, a former Jets quarterback, hopes his friend lands somewhere else.

“If the Bills hired him or the Falcons hired him or some other smaller-market team hired him, I think he would really knock it out of the box,” Esiason told the New York Post. “With the Jets, coaching this team in its current predicament is like walking through the trenches of World War I. It’s no-man’s land. It’s littered with potholes and blind spots and all sorts of issues that most coaches don’t have to deal with. I told him: ‘For your sake, I hope you get the offer, but for my sake and for our sake I hope you get an offer somewhere else.'”

So what is Esiason getting at?

Clearly, part of the picture he is painting has to do with the media landscape.

And as a member of the media, this saddens me.

We should have nothing to do with the process of a team trying to find a new coach and GM.

This needs to change.

You can’t let the media have this kind of impact on your operation.


Should the Jets give Marrone final say? 01.04.15

Former Buffalo Bills head coach Doug Marrone is a serious candidate for the same job with the Jets.

But should he also be a serious candidate to oversee the team’s personnel decisions?

In Buffalo, Marrone butted heads with Bills GM Doug Whaley.

He clearly didn’t like some of the moves Whaley made.

Somebody, likely from Marrone’s camp, leaked to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, that Marrone wasn’t in favor of the Bills’ blockbuster draft day trade for WR Sammy Watkins. The Bills had to give up their 2015 #1 pick to make the deal.

So this begs the question – should the Jets give Marrone final say on personnel matters in order to secure his services?

Surely, he would want that power, and perhaps could use this chip as a negotiating tool.

But is he a good enough candidate to get this kind of Belichickian control?


If the Western NY media bothered him . . . 01.02.15

Long-time Rochester Democrat-and-Chronicle sportswriter Sal Maiorana wrote an in-depth column on why Doug Marrone quit his job as Buffalo Bills coach.

According to Maiorana, the Western New York media was a factor.

“The final element to Marrone’s departure apparently was his own inability to not let criticism bother him,” wrote Maiorana on Thursday. “It came to light that he was tired of the negativity emanating from the local media and fans about his job performance, as if that’s something new in the NFL, or unique to Buffalo. He felt he was too frequently taken to task about his decision making, and apparently the criticism had begun to upset his wife and children, too. As I remember, that was one of the reasons Mike Mularkey gave when he quit the Bills after the 2005 season.

“All I can say is good luck in New York, where it is rumored Marrone may end up as coach of the Jets. If the western New York media got under his skin, what’s going to happen in Gotham?”

Some interesting food-for-thought as the Marrone-to-the-Jets rumors swirl.


One thing that hurts the Jets a little with some candidates 01.01.15

Don’t get me wrong, the Jets should be able to land quality individuals for their GM and head coaching spots, but some candidates are going to say, “Thanks, but no thanks.”

Obviously there are myriad reasons for candidates to not be interested, but one is obvious – the media scene.

The Jets play in the #1 media market in the United States, so with that comes an enormous press corps.

But aside from the sheer numbers that come with this market, the Jets’ media landscape presents an even more difficult challenge than other teams in the New York market, like the Giants, or some organizations in other sports.

Due to the competitiveness of the beat, the team’s eclectic history, the Jets-Giants complex and so forth, the media scene around this team can often resemble a three-ring circus.

And there is no question, some candidates won’t want to deal with it.

There is no way around that.

How John Idzik was chewed up and spit out by the press over his two tumultuous seasons with the Jets, isn’t lost on the candidates

Like I said, there should be quality candidates who are willing to take the challenge.

But don’t kid yourself.

Some will want nothing to do with this media scene.


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