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NFL Fan Fiction: New York Jets Coaching Search Edition

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Todd Bowles is out. Sad to see, but very understandable. You can’t defend 24-40. That being said, it’s time for the Jets to move on. They need a head coach that can corral an undisciplined team while attracting the big name free agents the Jets can finally afford. Names like Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley and Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels have been tossed around as dream candidates. This offseason can play out a number of ways. However, I am focused on only the best case scenarios. As a well-informed fan and self-proclaimed insider, I’ve done society the service of describing several possible ideal scenarios that could take shape during this head coach search. There are other, lower profile candidates that I’m sure will get a good look, but let’s talk about my top three (even if they don’t necessarily want the Jets job).


Scenario 1:
February 2019:
Bill Belichick sits at his breakfast table wearing a sleeveless bathrobe and his most recent Super Bowl ring. He pours skim milk into a ceramic bowl his son Steve, defensive backs coach, made during the third quarter of the divisional game. He then pours the dry Fiber One onto the milk, allowing the pile to float like a barge lost at sea. He grunts at his loving wife to turn on the kitchen television:


“Mrah,” grunts Bill as he takes a spoonful from the top of his mound of digestion-moderating cereal.


Chewed cereal hits the screen door as Steve’s bowl shatters from the impact of his father’s ringed fist.

Unlikely considering McDaniels is basically head coach in waiting in New England, but hey, a boy can dream.



Scenario 2:
The office door of Oklahoma’s head baseball coach is kicked in. Glass flies. A visor-donning Lincoln Riley pounds his fist on Skip Johnson’s desk demanding a new quarterback. Baffled by every Sooner outfielder’s inability to throw a back shoulder fade, Riley calls his confidant. Bob Stoops’ rotary phone rings throughout the house. However, Bob isn’t home. But you know who is? Mike Stoops, a defensive coordinator in exile. He answers the phone. 

“Lincoln, we’ve been expecting your call.”

“Oh hey Mike. Is your dad home? And there’s no hard feelings about letting you go right?”

“Yeaaah, weelll, Dad can’t come to to the phone right now. He’s a bit tied up at the moment. Haha haha Hahaha MUAHAHAHAHA”.

The line is disconnected.

Having exercised every option, Lincoln Riley goes to the only place that can bring him peace. Broadway. Specifically, the Book of Mormon. It’s the Super Bowl Sunday, so who does Lincoln Riley see at the performance? That’s right, Sam Darnold. Heat Miser himself. The two chat it up, and when the curtain goes up, they enjoy the show. They walk each other to the front door. Lincoln tells Sam how great a time he had. Sam echoes his statement. Sam extends his hand. Riley meets him for a handshake that is just all fingers. The two look away and rub the back of their heads to appear casual. They say goodbye. They both turn to walk away. Three steps in, they realize they’re walking the same way. 

“Haha, that’s awkward,” chuckles Riley as they near the corner. 

“Ha totally,” says Sam as he tugs at his shirt collar.

Side by side, they cross street after street, waiting for one of them to turn right or left. But no one does. The tension thicker than the New York City air they’re inhaling, Sam finally breaks the silence, blurting out “You wanna Uber Pool?” 

Sam’s thoughts run wild as he internally berates himself: “You idiot. Wanna split an Uber pool? That’s the best you could do? God, you suck. You know what? You deserve Robby Anderson. That’s what you get for a stupid comment like that.”

“Uh. Yeah,” says the Sooner coach.

“Oh. Great haha. I’ll order it,” says a breathless Sam as he fumbles for his phone.

Digging into his pockets, he drops his phone upon extraction. Both men reach for it. There hands meet at the apple device. They both pull away. But not immediately. They Uber in silence. 

“We’re here,” says the driver. 

Lincoln Riley exits the Kia Sorrento and checks his Snapchat geotags to see where he is. East Rutherford New Jersey. Contract in hand, General Manager Mike Maccagnan greets his next coach at the door.

Reports have surfaced about Oklahoma offering Riley a pretty lucrative extension. However, an NFL job with a quarterback with a high ceiling could be attractive.


Scenario 3:
Jim Harbaugh lays in bed, restless. He tosses and turns. His wife and he jockey for position and control of the covers. Feeling too hot for a sweater, but too cold to endure the December air in Ann Arbor. He yanks the sheets. No luck. He gives up, swinging his legs around to the side of his bed, he slips on new balance sneakers, socks be damned. Crusty eyed, he hunts through his nightstand drawer until finally, he retrieves his NFC championship ring. He removes his wedding ring and replaces it with the second place trophy. Famished, he journeys to the kitchen/gym for some light cardio followed by a bowl of milk and nails. Six miles into his midnight jaunt, the screen on his treadmill TV begins to blur. He punches at it, only blurring the screen more. Furious, he shouts at his treadmill, desperate to finish that episode of Breaking Bad. The screen goes black. 

“Well dammit.” 

He decides to finish his run without television. Nearing the end, he lowers the speed on the treadmill to five. His eyes are brought back to the arrow keys by a loud beep as the speed goes up to six. 

“What the?”

He brings it back to five. It jumps back up to six. He lowers it again. Now it rises to seven. Then eight. He punches at the down arrow key. But it only increases. Nine mph, ten mph, 11 mph. His feet blister as the raw skin rubs against the running shoe. He is running at top speed, willing himself to keep up. The lights in his kitchen flicker. His kitchen appliances all turn on and off in rhythm with the flickering lights. Approaching twenty mph, Harbaugh grips the handles of his treadmill. The electronic ambiance of his garbage disposal, blender, and dish washer drown out his screams for help. The speed hits twenty. “Aaaaagghhhh,” he yells, “Is this the best you’ve got you worthless machine?!”

The belt ceases as the treadmill suddenly turns off, sending Harbaugh doubling over the front handles. He lands in a heap. He passes out. 

The loud ding of the toaster eventually shocks him awake. He surveys the room. Nothing out of the ordinary. He gets up, using his kitchen table as a crutch. Michigan’s once-beloved head coach takes a step toward his bedroom. Then he hears, “Classic Harbaugh. Can’t keep up.”

“Who said that?” yelled Harbaugh.

“Just think, a few years ago everyone thought you were Michigan’s savior.”

“Who’s there? Show yourself!”

“Listen to me Jim. It takes a lot more the recruits, Jordan gear, and khakis to win a National Championship.”

“Who are you? John is that you? Stop messing around.”

“Oh you wish it was your brother. But you couldn’t even beat him in a big game, let alone me.” 

A ghostly figure taking the shape of Urban Meyer appears at the head of his table.


“You really think that just because I retired, you’re going to beat THE Ohio State University? Ryan Day is the least of your worries. I can see what’s going to happen Jim.”

“What’s going to happen?”

“Nothing good.”

“But I have another great recruiting class. I’m really good at that. Didn’t you see the bleacher report articles? I’m so approachable. And now, Shea Patterson is really coming into his—“



“It’s over Jim. I see the future. And the future is not good for you at Michigan.”

The room falls silent.

“Sir, we’re landing soon. Sir” says the Urban Meyer poltergeist.


“Sir please put your tray table up. We’re almost there.”

Harbaugh is poked awake by the flight attendant. 

“Sir, we’re going to need you to put your tray table up. We’ll be landing in Newark shortly.”

“Oh okay,” thank you says a panicked and confused Harbaugh. 

Soon after, he exits the plane with a car waiting for him. A shadowy figure motions for him to enter the car. Inside of the car, Chris and Woody Johnson greet their new head coach. The three talk over the contract, set goals and make plans. The buzz of Woody’s phone draws Harbaugh’s eyes. He can barely read the notification from so far away. 

“Sorry about that,” says Woody as he picks up his phone. He reads the phone number. It’s a Columbus area code. The text reads, “Good doing business with you. Buck’em.”

Harbaugh would have to be fired for this to happen, but if there’s one way to get fired from Michigan, it’s losing every single game to Ohio State.