AFC East: New York Jets

The New York Jets' coaching staff should be just about complete.

On Thursday, head coach Todd Bowles filled the only position-coach vacancy on his staff, hiring former Minnesota Vikings tight ends coach Jimmie Johnson for the same position. Johnson, a former tight end who played with Bowles on the Washington Redskins, worked with the Vikings from 2006 to 2013. He was out of football last season.

The Jets also announced the hirings of Daylon McCutcheon (assistant secondary) and Ryan Slowik (assistant defensive line/quality control). McCutcheon retired 10 years ago after a seven-year career in the league, playing under Bowles from 2001 to 2004 with the Cleveland Browns. He has no NFL coaching experience; he spent last season as a coaching intern for the Arizona Cardinals, reuniting with Bowles.

Slowik, who has 10 years of NFL coaching experience, spent the last two seasons with Bowles as the Cardinals' assistant secondary coach.
General manager Mike Maccagnan made another key hire Thursday in his rebuilt front office, naming former Chicago Bears scout Rex Hogan the senior director of college scouting for the New York Jets.

Hogan replaces longtime front-office executive Terry Bradway, who was fired recently.

Hogan has spent his entire NFL career with the Bears. He started as a college scout in 2003 under former Bears GM Jerry Angelo and was bumped up to national scout in 2012. As a national scout, he was responsible for the West region.

Before the NFL, Hogan worked on the college level at Notre Dame and Utah, dealing with recruiting and football operations.

Hogan became the Jets' second front-office addition this week. Previously, they hired Brian Heimerdinger as the director of player personnel.
Belichick/CarrollGetty ImagesA former Jets coach -- Bill Belichick or Pete Carroll -- will be celebrating another title Sunday.

On Jan. 3, 2000, Victor Green walked into Bill Belichick's office and gave him a crystal paper weight, purchased from Tiffany -- a congratulatory gift on the day of his promotion. Belichick was succeeding Bill Parcells, who was planning to announce his retirement that day. Green left the office excited about the prospect of Belichick coaching the New York Jets.

"I remember it like it was yesterday," the former safety said last week.

The Jets' public relations director, Frank Ramos, also visited Belichick's office that day, but he didn't come away with the same positive feeling. His plan was to have Belichick attend Parcells' farewell news conference, creating a symbolic passing of the torch. But Belichick refused to join the festivities, prompting Ramos to think, "Something doesn't feel right."

We all know what happened the next day: Instead of a coronation, Belichick stunned the team by resigning as the "HC of the NYJ." That news conference took "bizarre" to a new level -- and Belichick did it again Saturday, delivering his "Mona Lisa Vito" defense amid Deflategate accusations.

No doubt, Deflategate will be the dominant story this week. It will provide some amusement for Jets fans -- they love to see Belichick squirm -- but it won't eliminate the cold, hard facts. It has been 46 years since the Jets reached the Super Bowl. The kids of the 1960s who idolized Joe Namath and celebrated Super Bowl III are middle-aged folks, having exchanged their radical white cleats for Velcro-strapped sneakers.

This year's matchup, between Belichick's New England Patriots and Pete Carroll's Seattle Seahawks, probably stings more than the other empty years because the two coaches are former Jets. Welcome to Super Bowl EX.

The Jets had future greatness in the building, but they tossed it out (Carroll) and watched in disbelief as it walked out (Belichick).

Carroll lasted one year as the head coach, Belichick one day.

Eight conference championships later, their careers will intersect Sunday in Glendale, Arizona, with Carroll trying to match what Belichick accomplished in 2003 and 2004 -- win back-to-back Super Bowl titles. No other coach has done it since then.

"It's kind of heartbreaking," said former Jets linebacker Marvin Jones, imagining what might have been.

Fifteen years ago, the Jets knew they were losing a brilliant defensive coach, but who knew Belichick would become the Lombardi of his era? He failed with the Cleveland Browns, so he was hardly a sure thing. Obviously, the Patriots thought otherwise. So did Green.

"I knew we were losing something pretty special," said Green, who also played a year under Belichick in New England. "I always tell people, Belichick is the best coach at every position in the NFL. That's how highly I think of him."

Belichick's legacy could be tainted by the Spygate scandal of 2007, and there will be another ugly stain on his record if the NFL's Deflategate investigation uncovers a smoking gun. If so, it's "the Barry Bonds thing, an asterisk next to his name," Jones said. "He'll always have that attached to him. But Belichick is one of those coaches that doesn't give a s---."

Like Green, Jones played for both Belichick and Carroll. Belichick was the Jets' defensive coordinator from 1997 to 1999 and Jones called him a "great coach." They said the same thing about Carroll, who was their defensive coordinator before becoming head coach in 1994. It's a fascinating comparison because the two coaches are so different, yet so much alike.

Personality-wise, Carroll and Belichick are as dissimilar as Jim Carrey and Sean Penn, but they share a self-confidence that allows them to coach aggressively. In other words, they're never afraid to wander outside the box. In the AFC divisional playoffs, Belichick confused the Baltimore Ravens with his funky formations and gadget plays. Carroll's successful fake field goal in the NFC Championship Game was a brilliant move; it changed the game for Seattle.

Carroll was hardly a star in his only season as the Jets' coach, finishing 6-10, but he was admired by many in the organization. He was upbeat and energetic -- and still is.

His former players remember him fondly, especially his pep talks. They said he had the ability to turn a casual, pregame conversation in a hotel lobby into a fire starter. He liked to use audio and visual aids during his speeches. One time, his special effects were provided by Mother Nature. Carroll pounded his fist on a podium a split-second before a clap of thunder, which knocked out the lights in the building. The timing was perfect, like something out of a corny Hollywood movie.

Carroll was criticized by fans and media for some of his methods -- too nice, they said -- but he's winning big with the same style in Seattle.

"I knew Pete was a good coach, it just took him 20 years to prove it," former Jets center Jim Sweeney said. "He was ahead of his time."

Former defensive tackle Paul Frase also was a Carroll fan, but he said the coach's "laid-back mentality didn't work well" at that particular time because of the changing landscape in the NFL. Free agency was in its infancy, and the big money was starting to pour into the players' bank accounts. That created a sense of entitlement among some players, according to Frase, who commended Carroll for taking the USC job in 2001. That allowed him to gain a greater understanding of the young minds preparing to enter the league, Frase said.

Carroll never got a chance to evolve on the Jets' job because owner Leon Hess woke up one day and decided he had to have Rich Kotite. It was a cold ending for Carroll.

When the season ended, Carroll spent a week formulating his plan for 1995. He carried a thick binder into a meeting with Hess, excited to share his thoughts on the future, but the session lasted less than a minute. Hess dropped the hammer because he wanted Kotite to be the head of "the Jets' family," as he put it.

A few days earlier, Hess was in the Bahamas when he heard on TV that Kotite had been fired by the Philadelphia Eagles. With some prodding by his daughter -- yes, really -- the wealthy oil man opted to change coaches. It was so out of character for Hess, who usually let his football people run the show.

"I was totally surprised and, quite frankly, disappointed," said Ramos, who was close to the late owner. "I always thought Pete was an outstanding coach."

A year ago, Ramos was invited to the Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium as a guest of commissioner Roger Goodell, and they watched Carroll's Seahawks claim the Lombardi Trophy on the same plot of land where he once coached the Jets. Ramos was genuinely happy for Carroll, who refused to be ruined by a premature pink slip 20 years ago.

No matter what happens Sunday, a former Jets coach will be celebrating another title. Will it be the guy they kicked out or the guy who bolted?
Spurned recently by the New York Giants, Pepper Johnson is back with the New York Jets.

Johnson, who expressed his frustration last week after being passed over for the Giants' defensive coordinator job, was hired Saturday to coach the Jets' defensive line. Johnson played for the Jets in 1997 and 1998 before embarking on his coaching career. He spent 14 years as a New England Patriots assistant before leaving the Bill Belichick nest last year to become the Buffalo Bills' defensive line coach.

Johnson has no previous working experience with new coach Todd Bowles, but they share a mentor -- Bill Parcells. Johnson played for Parcells with the New York Giants and Jets; Bowles coached for Parcells with the Jets, Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins.

The popular former linebacker coveted the Giants' defensive coordinator position. He interviewed for the job, but it went to Steve Spagnuolo, who previously had won a Super Bowl ring as a member of Tom Coughlin's staff.

"Moving away from the Patriots, spending a year in Buffalo, I was hoping it would open doors and open some eyes, that more people would be watching,” Johnson told the New York Daily News, "and [that some team] will give me a call before all this is said and done.

"I feel bottled up," he said. "I have a lot of knowledge and a lot of information that I feel like I just have to keep to myself."

Johnson steps into a great situation, as he will be in charge of the strongest positions on the team. The Jets' defensive line is led by Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson, who will play Sunday night in the Pro Bowl.

The Jets ended up swapping defensive line coaches with the Bills. Their former coach, Karl Dunbar, followed Rex Ryan to Buffalo.
You will be reading a lot about the 2015 NFL draft in this space over the next few months, but let's take a moment to look back at 2014, with help from ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr.

Kiper re-grades every team's draft class in an Insider piece Insider. His first impression of the New York Jets' draft -- aka the Idzik 12 -- was positive. In fact, his grade was a B. That was back in May, when John Idzik was preaching his "build-through-the-draft" mantra.

Obviously, the draft didn't perform to a B level, as only two players emerged as significant contributors -- first-round safety Calvin Pryor and second-round tight end Jace Amaro. Pryor started 11 games, but he was a mild disappointment because he made no big plays and missed too many tackles. In fairness, he played most of the season out of position, deployed as a free safety because of deficiencies in the secondary. Amaro wasn't a game-changer, but he showed promise with 38 receptions, tied for second on the team.

After them, there wasn't much to get excited about. Idzik's biggest failure was striking out at wide receiver. In arguably the greatest receiver draft in history, the Jets picked three receivers that combined for zero catches. Desperate, Idzik traded for Percy Harvin, which cost them a draft pick, $7 million in salary and ate up $7 million in future cap space because of the rollover rule -- and Harvin didn't change anything. They were 1-6 before he arrived; they went 2-6 in games he played (he sat out the season-ending win with a rib injury).

Kiper's re-grade is lower than a B (check out the Insider), but it's not as low as you might think. Maybe he was grading on a curve.

You should also check his re-grade of the Houston Texans, considering the Jets' new general manager -- Mike Maccagnan -- was the Texans' director of college scouting. Kiper loved the draft in May (A-). Now, not so much.
Remember that report in early December, the one about Rex Ryan being so upset with offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg that he considered firing him during the season?

Naturally Ryan denied it, calling it "100 percent false." He also insisted there wasn't a rift between himself and Mornhinweg, saying, "I’m tight with every single coach here. I believe in every single coach that I have, and that’s the truth."

Actions speak louder than words, as they say, and Ryan's actions in the last couple of weeks suggest that he and Mornhinweg weren't simpatico.

Consider: Since being named the head coach of the Buffalo Bills, Ryan has hired nine members of his New York Jets staff. The latest to ride the Florham Park-to-Orchard Park shuttle is Anthony Lynn, who will coach the Bills' running backs and have the additional title of assistant head coach, as he did with the Jets.

If you're keeping score, only four coaches (we're talking coordinators and position coaches) haven't gone to the Bills -- Mornhinweg, special-teams coach Thomas McGaughey, offensive line coach Mike Devlin and tight ends coach Steve Hagen.

Devlin jumped at an early offer to coach the Houston Texans' offensive line. McGaughey never was a consideration because Ryan ended up retaining Danny Crossman. So, basically, Mornhinweg and Hagen are the only ones who didn't follow Ryan to the Bills.

Before he was hired by the Bills, Ryan already had aligned himself with Greg Roman as his coordinator. Unlike Mornhinweg, Roman, a former offensive line coach, will happily run the ball as much as Ryan wants.

Ryan and Mornhinweg weren't a philosophical fit for the Jets. They made it through 2013 thanks to a strong running game and a feel-good finish, but they clashed last season on how to handle Geno Smith. Mornhinweg put more on Smith's plate at the start of the season, but he was reeled in by Ryan. In the end, it all backfired. Hence, 4-12.

Mornhinweg ended up taking a job as the Baltimore Ravens' quarterbacks coach, a move down the coaching ladder. We'll see how things shake out with Hagen and McGaughey, who has been linked to the San Francisco 49ers' special-teams job, but Mornhinweg is the only member of Ryan's 2014 staff to take a demotion.

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- A few takeaways from the first official day of the "MacBowles" era:

1. A new vibe at One Jets Drive: Unlike their rivals to the northeast, the New York Jets have been dealing with deflation issues for some time, so to speak -- four straight years out of the playoffs. Rex Ryan's act got stale, and it was time for a change. GM Mike Maccagnan and coach Todd Bowles, introduced Wednesday to the media, came across as sincere, blue-collar types, sans the Ryan bravado. They will bring a fresh approach. Will it be the right approach? No one knows for sure. They're rookies, after all. New doesn't guarantee better. None of the day one pleasantries will matter if they don't find a quarterback.

[+] EnlargeMike Maccagnan, Todd Bowles
Julio Cortez/AP PhotoJersey boys Mike Maccagnan, left, and Todd Bowles, right, are tasked with solving the Jets' quarterback problem.
2. BFFs? Not yet: I have milk in my refrigerator that is older than the Maccagnan-Bowles relationship. They've known each other for only a week, so it's impossible to say if they will be compatible over the long term. The early signs are positive, but how will they handle adversity? What happens when there's a disagreement in the draft room? Clearly, they're learning each other on the fly. This type of arranged marriage is unusual in the NFL. Owner Woody Johnson tried it in 2013, pairing Ryan with John Idzik. It backfired because they had different agendas. At least Maccagnan and Bowles are starting out together.

3. Rex's presence: The news conference took place beneath a giant slogan painted across the top of a high wall in the team auditorium: "Play Like a Jet!" It's a Ryan-ism, one he quoted many times during his six-year tenure. I wouldn't be surprised if Johnson hires painters to handle some touch-up work before the next team meeting.

4. Different kind of coach: One comment from Johnson that jumped out was his take on Bowles' coaching style, his "ability to be above just a defensive coordinator … and be able to take a 30,000-foot look at offense, defense, special teams." This is a departure from Ryan, who immersed himself in the defense. Bowles said he won't call the defensive plays and will take more than a cursory interest in the offense. This is good. This will create a "one-team" perception, not an offense/defense split.

5. About the offense: Bowles didn't provide any specifics on his plans for the offense, except to say he believes he hired the right coordinator in Chan Gailey. Bowles spewed coaching platitudes, saying he wants "good balance. … We want to be tough. We don't want to be pushed around. We want to be explosive. We want to be all of those things." That's what they all say. It would've been nice to hear thoughts on the current personnel and how they might be used based on their knowledge of the players.

6. Taking a pass on Geno: Both men were noncommittal on Geno Smith. Bowles said Smith was "a great college quarterback," which is akin to telling Bowles, "You were a great secondary coach." That's ancient history; it doesn't matter anymore. It seems fairly obvious that Bowles and Maccagnan aren't in love with Smith, and why would they be? He's only 11-18 as a starter. Later, in an interview with ESPN New York 98.7, Maccagnan said he's intrigued by Smith's potential. He also said, "I don't know exactly what Geno will become for us, per se." Translation: Don't get too comfortable in the No. 1 chair, Geno.

7. Jersey Boys: If you like wrapping your arms around a homecoming story, this is a good one. Maccagnan grew up in Hightstown (Exit 8 on the New Jersey Turnpike), about 36 miles from Bowles' hometown, Elizabeth (Exit 13). Bowles' high school used to conduct a preseason camp at Maccagnan's alma mater, the Peddie School. Maccagnan, 47, four years younger than Bowles, suspects he probably watched his future head coach on a practice field in the late 1970s. New Jersey has produced some great coaches. Do the names Lombardi and Parcells ring a bell? The Jets will sign up for anything close to that.
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- If Geno Smith tuned into the Todd Bowles-Mike Maccagnan news conference Wednesday expecting to receive an endorsement from his new bosses, he probably was disappointed.

The New York Jets' new power couple was noncommittal on the quarterback situation, offering no hints -- none -- on how they plan to approach the season.

"Obviously, he was a great college quarterback," said Bowles, who went on to say it's premature to give a definitive evaluation of Smith.

He's right, Smith was a prolific passer at West Virginia, but he's two years removed from those days. Smith has started 29 games in the NFL (he's 11-18), plenty of time for evaluators to get a feel for his upside. Obviously, Bowles and Maccagnan didn't want to get into specifics, not even declaring an open competition.

Then again, only two quarterbacks are under contract for the Jets: Smith and Matt Simms. By the time they get to training camp, the Jets probably will have one or two other viable options on the depth chart.

Bowles made a passing reference to the possibility of Smith being the starter. It came in response to a question about new offensive coordinator Chan Gailey, who was hired Tuesday.

"He understands that, if Geno is our guy going forward, we need to get some people around him to do a lot of things better -- and Chan is outstanding at that," Bowles said. "I made it a priority for me to get (Gailey)."

Judging by that comment, you could surmise that Bowles believes Smith can be salvaged with a better supporting cast. At this point, we're probably reading too much into vague remarks.

Maccagnan, who could have the opportunity to select a quarterback with the sixth pick in the draft (Jameis Winston? Marcus Mariota?), said the organization will take a wait-and-see approach.

"I'm excited about working with Geno and getting to know him better," Maccagnan said. "I would say at this point in time, going forward, with Todd and the staff, we need to sit down and go through this roster and determine what we want to do schematically."
Sheldon Richardson, bitterly disappointed he wasn't voted to the Pro Bowl, will get a chance to play with the NFL's elite.

The New York Jets defensive tackle was named Wednesday to replace Gerald McCoy of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. McCoy had to back out because of a knee injury that landed him on injured reserve last month. Richardson was listed as an alternate, so now he gets to participate in the Jan. 25 game in Glendale, Arizons.

Richardson and center Nick Mangold are the only Jets in the Pro Bowl, as of now.

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- As much as things have changed in the AFC East, they still seem to stay the same.

The Buffalo Bills introduced new coach Rex Ryan at a news conference Wednesday, a little more than two weeks after he was fired by the New York Jets. One reporter asked if Ryan was looking forward to facing the Jets, and the bombastic coach took his answer in another direction.

"I'll be honest: I think it's still the Patriots that I want the most," Ryan responded.

The Bills are 3-25 against the New England Patriots since 2001, but the Jets played the Patriots tough in Ryan's six seasons as their coach.

“We’re not afraid of anybody,” Ryan said of the Patriots. “Certainly not afraid of them. I respect them, I recognize the fact that they’ve won our division the last six years -- I think 10 out of the last 11 years they’ve won our division -- but that doesn’t guarantee they’re going to win it next year.

“And that doesn’t mean that we can’t be the team that’s on top of them. I think there’s a lot of talent that we already have here and I can’t wait for that, either. That opportunity, getting to play them . . . they certainly know that I’ll look forward to those games, that’s for sure.”

“We’re going into every game. We expect to win. Period. This team is going to expect to win, regardless of who they play. If they want bring back [former Patriots tight end] Russ Francis and John Hannah to play guard, we’ll play them, too.”
Statements from the New York Jets on new general manager Mike Maccagnan:

Owner Woody Johnson: "We interviewed a number of impressive, qualified candidates, but Mike Maccagnan clearly stood out. Mike’s attention to detail, strong personnel background and collaborative approach to evaluating players made it clear that he is the right choice to be the next general manager of the New York Jets. I want to thank Charley Casserly and Ron Wolf for their contributions during this search. Their experience, guidance and expertise have been invaluable. We are proud to welcome Mike to the organization and I am confident that he will help us build a winning team.

Consultant Charley Casserly: "Mike Maccagnan is an outstanding football man, one who is highly organized and an excellent evaluator. He is very thorough in his preparation and will do a terrific job for the Jets."

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

Maccagnan: “In my line of work, having the chance to serve as a general manager is what you work towards your entire career. Having a supportive owner who is passionate and committed to delivering a winning team to the fans is one of the keys to building a successful organization. I have enjoyed getting to know Mr. Johnson during the interview process and am grateful to him for this opportunity. 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."
A look back at the New York Jets' 15-day search for a general manager:

Dec. 29: John Idzik is fired after only two seasons. Owner Woody Johnson confirms reports that former longtime GMs Charley Casserly and Ron Wolf will join him as consultants as they search for a GM and a coach to replace Rex Ryan. They waste little time in requesting permission to speak with Minnesota Vikings assistant GM George Paton.

Dec. 30: The Jets submit requests to speak with Baltimore Ravens assistant GM Eric DeCosta, Seattle Seahawks pro personnel director Trent Kirchner, Cleveland Browns executive chief of staff Bill Kuharich, Houston Texans director of college scouting Mike Maccagnan and Philadelphia Eagles pro personnel director Rick Mueller.

Dec. 31: The first rejection arrives, as Paton declines to interview. Meanwhile, the Jets kick off the interviews with an internal candidate, Rod Graves, the senior director of football administration. He was Idzik's right-hand man.

Jan. 1: Johnson & Co. begin the new year by interviewing Kuharich at the team's facility in Florham Park, New Jersey. Afterward, Johnson, Casserly, Wolf and team president Neil Glat fly to Seattle, where they spend the evening meeting with Kirchner. While in the Pacific Northwest, they knock out two head-coaching interviews over two days -- defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and offensive line coach Tom Cable. News breaks that DeCosta has spurned the Jets -- hardly a surprise. He's Ozzie Newsome's heir apparent in Baltimore.

Jan. 2: They decide to expand the search, requesting interviews with Miami Dolphins director of college scouting Chris Grier and Kansas City Chiefs director of player personnel Chris Ballard.

Jan. 3: The Jets add another name, submitting a request for New Orleans Saints assistant GM Ryan Pace.

Jan. 4: Mueller interviews in Florham Park.

Jan. 5: Two more rejections: Pace and Ballard -- both regarded as "hot" candidates -- say no to the Jets. They both wind up interviewing for the Chicago Bears' GM vacancy, with Pace landing the job. Maccagnan impresses the Jets' brass in his interview. Because of Maccagnan's 20-year friendship with Casserly, they let Wolf conduct the session.

Jan. 6: Grier is in the house for his interview.

Jan. 7: The Jets quietly reach out to Maccagnan, inviting him back for a second interview. A new name emerges: Tampa Bay Buccaneers director of player personnel Jon Robinson. An interview is arranged.

Jan. 8: As Robinson arrives in Florham Park, words leaks of Maccagnan's second interview. He becomes the front-runner.

Jan. 9: Maccagnan returns to New Jersey for a late-afternoon meeting with the Jets' brass, followed by dinner with Johnson, Casserly and Wolf.

Jan. 10: Maccagnan remains in Florham Park. The plan is to take a late-night flight to Seattle to reel in Quinn if the Seahawks lose to the Carolina Panthers. They don't, but it's clear that Maccagnan is the Jets' choice.

Jan. 11: Maccagnan stays in New Jersey. "The world's longest job interview," one source says, half-jokingly.

Jan. 12: The Jets invite Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles for a second head coach interview, and Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott for a first interview, and the plan is to have Maccagnan participate in both sessions.

Jan. 13: After interviewing Bowles, the Jets finally make it official: Maccagnan is named general manager. The announcement comes at 6:52 p.m.
Rex Ryan arrived at the Buffalo Bills facility Tuesday and was greeted by, well, a pie.

A local pizza shop created a "Welcome Rex" pizza with spinach, ricotta cheese and food coloring, which was presented to the Bills' new head coach as he toured the building with his new bosses.

Check it out on's Instant Awesome:

With Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn still involved in the playoffs, the New York Jets are focusing their attention on Todd Bowles, the highly-regarded Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator.

Bowles is scheduled to arrive in New Jersey late Tuesday for his second interview and -- this is the important part -- he's slated to meet with general manager-in-waiting Mike Maccagnan, according to a source. Bowles is the first head-coaching candidate to return for a second interview.

Maccagnan and Bowles have no prior working relationship, so this will be a get-acquainted session to gauge their compatibility. Bowles' candidacy has gained traction in recent days, perhaps because the Jets are concerned about waiting for Quinn, who is thought to be the frontrunner. By rule, Quinn can't be offered the job until his season is over, which could be Feb. 1 in the Super Bowl. By then, it might be hard to put together a good staff.

Bowles also is drawing serious interest from the Atlanta Falcons, who have scheduled him for a second interview. The Jets are mindful of that, so it might behoove them to keep him in the building and wrap up a deal before he can get on a plane to Atlanta -- if they feel that strongly about him. One of the key questions is his offensive coordinator; Bowles reportedly is interested in Cards quarterbacks coach Freddie Kitchens and Chan Gailey, whose name is circulating in the job mill after sitting out two seasons.

Bowles is a Bill Parcells disciple, and Parcells is said to be pushing Bowles in Atlanta, where his son-in-law -- Scott Pioli -- is a Falcons executive.

Aside from Bowles, the Jets have another interview on their dance card, Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott, whom they will meet Wednesday for the first time.

Bowles has raised his stock with the fine work he's done the past two seasons in Arizona. He has no head-coaching experience, save for three games as the Miami Dolphins' interim coach at the end of the 2011 season. Bowles is a New Jersey guy -- grew up in Elizabeth -- and served as the Jets' secondary coach in 2000, when he was handpicked by Parcells, who ran the front office.

Meanwhile, the Jets still haven't announced the Maccagnan hiring, although all signs point to him being named the general manager soon.
At 10:01 a.m., it became official: Rex Ryan is the coach of the Buffalo Bills, the team announced.

The Bills-New York Jets rivalry just got interesting, but it's rather amusing to hear people say the Jets should be worried because Ryan is staying in the division. Worried about what, exactly?

Will he turn the Bills into an elite defensive team? They already are. They finished fourth in total defense.

Will he turn EJ Manuel into a winning quarterback? Ryan's track record with young quarterbacks leaves a lot to be desired. (Prediction: Look for Ryan's tattoo guy, Mark Sanchez, to turn up in Buffalo. He's a free agent.)

Will Ryan's presence suddenly tilt the rivalry in the Bills' favor? It's already there, as the Bills have won the past three meetings by a combined score of 118-40.

So, no, I don't think the Jets are worried about losing a 46-50 coach to an AFC East rival. Ryan will elevate the entertainment value of the Jets-Bills rivalry, and he will energize the players and fan base in Buffalo, but it's not a game-changer in the division.

Yes, the Jets will lose some assistant coaches to Buffalo, most notably defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman, but those coaches probably wouldn't have stayed anyway under the new coach. Ryan could bite the Jets in free agency if he signs linebacker David Harris, but life will go on.

Another prediction: Jets versus Bills on opening day.