The Jets' coaching search took an interesting twist late Wednesday when former Jets offensive line coach Doug Marrone opted out of his contract as the Bills' head coach. According to a source, Marrone is now among the Jets' top candidates to replace Rex Ryan, who was fired on Monday.
Marrone had a clause in his contract that gave him until midnight Wednesday, and he exercised the option, thereby making himself available to any other club looking for a head coach. Jets owner Woody Johnson had high regard for Marrone when he was the team's line coach from 2002-05.
The Jets did not comment publicly about Marrone's availability, nor did newly hired consultants Charley Casserly or Ron Wolf, who have kept a low profile as they try to fill the coach and general manager vacancies created by the firings of Ryan and GM John Idzik. But Marrone drew praise from Johnson during his tenure with the Jets, and he is coming off a solid year in Buffalo, where the Bills had their first winning season since 2004. Buffalo finished 9-7 in Marrone's second year there.
Marrone also did fine work against the Jets in the 2014 season, beating them twice. Buffalo beat the Jets, 43-23, at MetLife Stadium on Oct. 26 and then again, 38-3, at Detroit's Ford Field on Nov. 24. The game was moved to Detroit because of a midweek blizzard in Buffalo.
The Jets have five other coaches on their radar: Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and Seahawks offensive line coach Tom Cable, who are scheduled to be interviewed this weekend; Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, Ravens offensive coordinator and former Texans head coach Gary Kubiak, and Chargers offensive coordinator Frank Reich.
Marrone is a highly regarded offensive coach, something that fits the Jets' needs as they pursue a new coach. The Jets have had defensive-oriented head coaches since Bill Parcells replaced Rich Kotite in 1997. Parcells was followed by Al Groh, Herman Edwards and Eric Mangini before Ryan's hiring in 2009.
Ryan, meanwhile, is expected to interview for the vacant head coaching jobs in Atlanta and San Francisco.
In Buffalo, Reich is expected to be considered for the Bills' head coaching job.
The former Bills backup quarterback staged the biggest comeback in playoff history when he rallied the Bills from a 35-3 halftime deficit to a 41-38 overtime win against Houston on Jan. 3, 1993. He replaced the injured Jim Kelly to orchestrate the dramatic comeback in the wild-card round.
The Buffalo opening came about because of a clause that Marrone had negotiated into his contract as a result of an ownership change after Ralph Wilson died. New Bills owner Terry Pegula said in a statement issued shortly after Marrone's decision to leave that he would immediately begin a search for a new coach.
"We are disappointed that Coach Marrone will no longer be an important part of our organization," Pegula said. "We thank him for all of his hard work and leadership during his tenure and wish him and his family the best with the next chapter in their lives. We will now begin the important process of conducting a thorough search for a new head coach as we continue to strive to reach our goal of returning to the playoffs and bringing a championship to Buffalo for our fans."
With Kimberley A. Martin