After a 2-14 season, the New York Jets finally parted ways with head coach Adam Gase this week. As rumors swirl as to who will be his replacement, one name has been consistently linked to the vacancy. Fresh off the back of Iowa State’s most successful season in recent program history, is head coach Matt Campbell about to make the leap to the NFL?
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Is Matt Campbell destined for the NFL with the New York Jets?
Matt Campbell’s history is intertwined with the NFL. Following a conference championship-winning high school career and a college career where he won multiple Division III championships with Mount Union, Campbell transitioned to a coaching career as an offensive line coach and eventually an offensive coordinator.
During that time, he was approached by Scott Pioli for a role with the New England Patriots. Campbell also had a flirtation with the Jets in 2018. However, both times he remained in the college game. As the Jets begin their head coach search, the question of whether Matt Campbell makes the leap to the NFL is again rearing its head.
However, according to Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline, it is extremely unlikely that Campbell jumps to the NFL.
“Matt Campbell is a name that always crops up. It cropped up last time the Jets had a head coach opening. He’s talked about a lot. From what I am hearing, it’s less than five percent, and even maybe less than one percent, that Matt Campbell is the next head coach of the New York Jets.”
On January 9, FOX Sports’ Bruce Feldman reported on Twitter that Campbell is not expected to interview for the Jets head coach position.
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Is the New York Jets situation right for Matt Campbell to transition to the NFL?
There are multiple reasons that Matt Campbell might not be the next head coach of the New York Jets. Although there was interest from the Jets back in 2018, Campbell ultimately turned down an interview in New York. On the NFL Draft Insiders podcast, Pauline expanded on the reasons why the marriage of Campbell and the Jets seems so unlikely.
“I really think that number one, Matt Campbell’s only going to leave Iowa State for the NFL if the situation is perfect. I don’t see the New York Jets as being a perfect situation for him for a variety of reasons. Matt Campbell likes the college coaching game. He’s not going to move onto the NFL unless it is perfect.”
The Jets situation is clearly not as perfect as it appeared it would be just three weeks ago
Staring down the barrel of a winless season, the Jets were poised to secure Trevor Lawrence as the future face of the franchise. Now, they have multiple decisions to make in the 2021 NFL Draft. One of those decisions revolves around how the franchise moves forward with — or without — current starting quarterback Sam Darnold.
Regardless of whether the NFL situation is perfect for Matt Campbell, it may actually be that Campell isn’t perfect for the Jets.
The New York Jets have some specific requirements in their search for their new head coach
In a recent ESPN article by Rich Cimini, Jets CEO Christopher Johnson laid out the new head coach’s expectations in New York.
“I don’t much like the term ‘CEO,’ but it does describe what we’re looking for. We want a head coach that coaches the entire team and his staff. You don’t have to be offensive, you don’t have to be defensive. This is a coach for the entire team. That’s very important to us looking forward.”
Johnson’s words echo the expectations that Tony Pauline had outlined several weeks ago.
“This goes back to what I said three-four weeks ago on this podcast when I reported that the Jets were basically looking for an alpha dog type of coach. Sort of a strong disciplinarian to oversee everything. They want that strong personality, that alpha dog coach to basically run the whole show on the field. Not so much the offensive specialist to either help develop a new quarterback they may draft, or hopefully salvage Sam Darnold. Not a defensive coordinator, but really that alpha dog type of guy, that will put other people in charge and then really run the show himself.”
That doesn’t fit the sort of character that Matt Campbell would bring to the NFL. Pauline had previously remarked that “people inside the league feel that [Campbell] doesn’t project well to the NFL. He’s too buddy-buddy with his players.”
He added to that sentiment this week, saying, “I think that he doesn’t fit that alpha dog, CEO-type of coach.”
If Matt Campbell doesn’t make the leap, who remains for the Jets?
It’s clear that the Jets aren’t going to jump at the first head coach candidate they find. They’re expected to do their due diligence to find the right man for the job. According to Pauline, “They’re probably going to interview everybody and anybody under the rock until they finally make a decision.”
Two names that may feature in that process are Don “Wink” Martindale and Pat Fitzgerald. Northwestern coach Fitzgerald is a popular name for available head coaching jobs after impressing with the Wildcats. He has led them to two Big Ten Championship contests in three seasons.
Despite this, Pauline believes that Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Martindale is more likely than Fitzgerald.
“Fitzgerald fits that mold. The only thing with Pat Fitzgerald is that he is basically starting from the ground on the NFL level. He is going to have to recruit to bring in offensive coordinators, defensive coordinators to run the show for him. I just don’t know that that is the way the Jets want to go at this time.”
Whichever way the Jets go, it seems unlikely that they will be bringing Matt Campbell to the NFL.
Oliver Hodgkinson is a contributor for Pro Football Network, focusing on NFL Draft, general NFL, and NFL fantasy football. You can follow him on Twitter at @ojhodgkinson.