Williams, Joseph And Pagano Have Emerged As Leading Candidates To Be Gase's Top Assistant On That Side Of Ball


NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Adam Gase is reportedly the Jets’ next head coach, but they may soon have someone with similar head coaching experience as their defensive coordinator.

According to various reports, the Jets are considering Gregg Williams, Vance Joseph and Chuck Pagano to take over the role handled the previous four years by Kacy Rodgers.

The Jets shocked many with the reported hiring of Gase on Wednesday night. The 40-year-old finished his first run as a head coach with a 23-25 record in three seasons with the Miami Dolphins, and was fired on “Black Monday,” Dec. 31.

But after going through an exhaustive process that featured formal and informal interviews with eight candidates, the Jets’ brain trust of interim owner Christopher Johnson, general manager Mike Maccagnan and vice president of player personnel Brian Heimerdinger decided Gase, despite his warts, had the most upside and was best equipped to develop young quarterback Sam Darnold and lead the franchise forward.

New York, which finished 4-12 in 2018, has missed the playoffs the last eight seasons. A big reason for that, aside from a sputtering offense that has often shown no imagination, has been an underachieving defense. The Jets have had talent on that side of the ball, but have consistently struggled to get off the field. The Jets finished 25th in total defense in 2018, allowing 380.4 yards per game, and their scoring defense, 27.6 points per game, ranked 29th overall.

Gregg Williams (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images); Vance Joseph (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images); Chuck Pagano (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)

All three of the potential candidates for defensive coordinator are well respected.

Williams, 60, has been the top defensive assistant for six teams over the last 21 years, most recently with Cleveland the last two seasons. He was also the Buffalo Bills head coach from 2001-03, and was the interim head coach for the Browns for eight games in 2018 following the firing of Hue Jackson, winning five. Williams’ units have finished in the Top 10 in total defense seven times.

After a decade as a defensive backs coach for several teams, Joseph, 46, was the defensive coordinator under Gase in Miami in 2016 and the head coach in Denver for the last two seasons. He is considered by many as one of the brighter minds in the league and is reportedly a candidate for both the head coach opening in Cincinnati and the defensive coordinator job in Arizona.

Pagano, 58, piloted Baltimore’s third-ranked defense in 2011 before embarking on a successful six-year run as the head coach in Indianapolis. He was fired following the 2017 season with a cumulative 53-43 regular season record and three playoff appearances.

While it is assumed Johnson and Maccagnan will overhaul the entire coaching staff, it seems highly likely they’ll retain special teams coach Brant Boyer. Once an embarrassment of a unit, the Jets were among the least penalized in the NFL in that facet of the game in 2018, and their return game was explosive, thanks to the emergence of Pro Bowler Andre Roberts. In addition, kicker Jason Myers earned his first trip to the Pro Bowl after making 33 of 36 field goals, including all seven of his attempts in the Jets’ 42-34 win over the Colts on Oct. 14.