Assessing the Jets' top coaching candidates

We're six days into The Great Searches, and what do we know?

We know the New York Jets have interviewed at least seven candidates for their head coach and general manager positions.

We know Woody Johnson and his C-men (consultants Charley Casserly and Ron Wolf) have traveled about 6,000 miles.

And, finally, we know Johnson & Co. are trying to play eHarmony, matching a coach with a GM. What they should be doing is hiring a GM and letting him lead the search for a coach. If they do it backward, they'd be repeating 2013, when they kept Rex Ryan and hired John Idzik. How'd that work out?

The Jets may end up hiring the GM first, but there will be the perception that the whole thing was pre-determined. The coach could wield just as much power as the GM, and there are no superstar candidates on the Jets' list who deserve that kind of power.

If you study the list of candidates, you'll see a lot of coach/GM connections, with Casserly and Wolf fingerprints on them.

Former Buffalo Bills coach Doug Marrone, who met Saturday with the Jets in Florham Park, worked previously with three of the GM candidates: Mike Maccagnan, Rick Mueller and Ryan Pace. In the early 1990s, Marrone got one of his first breaks from Maccagnan, working under him as an intern for the Ottawa Rough Riders of the CFL. Marrone scouted some NFL games for Maccagnan, who interviews Monday for the GM job.

Dan Quinn, the Seattle Seahawks' defensive coordinator, is a Wolf descendant, so to speak. Quinn was hired by GM John Schneider, whose mentor is Wolf. It's the same deal for Seahawks executive Trent Kirchner, who, like Quinn, already has interviewed with the Jets.

Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, eligible for an interview now that his team is done, has ties to Casserly and Wolf. Bowles played safety for the Washington Redskins when Casserly was in the front office, and he worked in the Green Bay Packers' personnel department when Wolf was the GM.

Of course, Bowles and Quinn are wanted by several teams, so it would be unfair to say they're on the Jets' list solely because of who they know.

So who's the best candidate? It depends.

If the Jets' objective is to find an up-and-coming coach with a championship pedigree, Quinn is the most attractive option. He's a Super Bowl-winning coordinator, and you want to build your program around a winner. Eight teams have asked to interview him over the last two years, including five this offseason. One quarter of the league can't be wrong. The downside to Quinn is they can't hire him until the Seahawks' season is over, and that may take a few weeks.

If they want an offensive-minded coach with an old-school edge, meaning the antithesis of Ryan, the choice should be Marrone. He has head-coaching experience, knows the AFC East and is available. Don't underestimate the availability factor. Owners and GMs get antsy when they have to wait for top candidates in the playoffs. Marrone took downtrodden programs (Syracuse and the Bills) and turned them in the right direction. His record in Buffalo was only 15-17, but he led them to their first winning season in a decade with a 9-7 record this season. He'd be culture shock for the Jets, who became accustomed to the easygoing Ryan, but maybe Johnson wants to change the environment.

If the primary focus is to make their moribund offense competitive with the rest of the league, the choice should be Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak. He won a lot of games in Houston with Matt Schaub as his quarterback, which is saying something. He's doing a terrific job with the Ravens. Problem is ... yes, the wait. The Jets are allowed to interview him before the Ravens' divisional game, but they can't hire him until the Ravens are finished.

If they want to continue along the Ryan track, meaning a player-friendly coach with an aggressive mindset on defense, it should be Bowles. He did a fantastic job this season with the Arizona defense, showing the ability to adapt to key losses. With the Jets' defensive-line personnel, he'd build a defense that would challenge Tom Brady & Co. -- and that's a big part of the gig when you're the HC of the NYJ.