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In this Dec. 31, 2018 file photo, New York Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan speaks to reporters in Florham Park, N.J. The New York Jets have fired Maccagnan and coach Adam Gase will serve as the acting GM in his place. The stunning decision by team chairman and CEO Christopher Johnson was announced in a statement posted on the team's Twitter account. Maccagnan had been the Jets' general manager since 2015.
New York Jets head coach Adam Gase speaks during an NFL football news conference Friday, May 10, 2019, in Florham Park, N.J.
Move empowers new Jets head coach Adam Gase
It was surprising — not stunning — to learn the New York Jets had fired GM Mike Maccagnan.
Jets CEO and chairman Chris Johnson announced the news Wednesday morning.
Firing a fifth-year GM in May, and only five months after a replacement head coach (Adam Gase) came on board, combine to make the move seem ill-timed.
But the fact is, every May many NFL clubs shake up their scouting departments to varying degrees. We raise our eyebrows only when it’s the top talent evaluator himself, the GM.
Yet Maccagnan’s May ouster has precedent, even within the Jets’ own AFC East, going back only as far as 2017.
Just two years ago the Buffalo Bills waited to fire their GM entering Year 5, Doug Whaley, likewise until after the draft cycle had concluded, and likewise five months after a schematics-overhauling replacement head coach had been hired (Sean McDermott).
Similarly, the Kansas City Chiefs two years ago dumped GM John Dorsey in June; he’s now rebuilding the Cleveland Browns.
The thinking is, if you fire your GM and any scouts before the late-April draft concludes, the in-the-vault knowledge these men possess of your team’s draft intentions will seep into rivals’ headquarters. So, better to hang on to such folk until after the draft, and — in the Jets’ case with Maccagnan — until even after the undrafted rookie free agents he signed or lined up for tryouts, have taken part in your rookie mini-camp.
The Jets’ rookie mini-camp concluded this past Sunday. Draft cycle concluded. Dirty deed done.
In Maccagnan’s first season as GM the Jets went 10-6, narrowly missing out on the club’s first playoff berth since 2010. After that, head coach Todd Bowles and the Jets went 14-34 (.292). Yeah, pretty bad.
Maccagnan was doing a solid, if deliberate, job of rebuilding the Jets roster. Whether last year’s No. 3 overall draft pick (quarterback Sam Darnold) or this year’s (defensive tackle Quinnen Williams) become franchise pillars, time will tell. It’s too early to know.
But a lot of NFL GMs would have selected those two players if they were in Maccagnan’s shoes; these weren’t outside-the-box, Gettleman-ian gambles.
New York media are framing Maccagnan’s firing as a power-struggle victory for Gase, the new head coach. The New York Daily News soon reported that Gase opposed Maccagnan’s big-blast free-agent signing of Pittsburgh’s 2018 season-long holdout running back Le’Veon Bell.
For Gase to oppose the acquisition of one of the NFL’s most dangerous run-and-catch backs of this or any other decade, he must be intending to build his Jets attack around Darnold and his wide receivers.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Wednesday afternoon that Mike Mayock’s successor as NFL Network’s premier draft analyst, former NFL scout Daniel Jeremiah, “is under serious consideration for a prominent front-office position with the New York Jets, per sources.”
Before that bombshell, NFL Network reported that long-time NFL scout Joe Douglas — director of player personnel with the Philadelphia Eagles since 2016 — already has emerged as the likeliest candidate to succeed Maccagnan.
Whether Douglas or Jeremiah or whoever the GM winds up being reports to Gase, or works in concert with him — just as head coach McDermott and his long-time friend, GM Brandon Beane, do in Buffalo — well, we’ll see.
Gase had the last say on the 53-man roster in Miami from 2016-18, and his Dolphins went 23-25 before the club fired him on New Year’s Eve.
Maccagnan had final say with the Jets since 2015.
However much power his successor wields, Gase had better win and win early in New York. Because the Big Apple is watching. With folded arms, toes tapping.
Last week, Gase did not deny it when asked if there was a rift between him and Maccagnan. But he made it clear he was upset it got reported.
“I don’t know who decides to put that stuff out there. It pisses me off a little bit,” Gase said. “We’re in constant communication (to) make sure we’re on the same page all the time.”
That time ran out Wednesday.
Pressure’s on, Adam.
MACCAGNAN POST-SCRIPT: By the way, Maccagnan’s wife Betty grew up in Vaughan, a suburb bordering north-central Toronto. The couple met circa 1993-94, while he headed scouting staffs for the then Ottawa Rough Riders and Saskatchewan Roughriders of the CFL. The couple spent 15 years in Houston as Maccagnan worked his way up through the Texans scouting department, before taking the Jets job.
TRIBUTES FOR PANCHO: The Bills and their fans are in mourning this week, after the passing of super fan Ezra Castro, famously known better as “Pancho Billa.” Castro succumbed to cancer Monday at a hospital in his native Dallas. He was 39.
For years he donned a red, white and blue mask, sombrero and uniform and cheered on his beloved Bills seemingly everywhere – at big games, home and away, even at the draft. On the first night of last month’s draft, as he lay ill in his hospital bed, Bills GM Brandon Beane called him and asked him if he’d like the honour — via conference hookup — to officially inform the NFL of Buffalo’s Round 1 pick at No. 9 overall, University of Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver.
Are you kidding? He jumped at the chance.
Tributes this week have flowed across Western New York, and indeed throughout league circles.
Oliver told NFL Network on Wednesday afternoon: “It’s crazy how much impact one guy can have on one community and our whole organization. Just the way he carried himself.”
EXTRA POINTS: The Patriots were “in talks” Wednesday with linebacker Jamie Collins, NFL Network reported. Collins spent his first four NFL seasons in New England before being traded to the Cleveland Browns. He’s still an unsigned free agent … Seattle signed ex-Jets, ex-Giants and ex-Chargers quarterback Geno Smith, to back up Russell Wilson … If you missed it, another 2013 draft-class QB, and the only one selected before Smith, this week announced his retirement from football. EJ Manuel started for parts of his first two seasons with the Bills (2013-14), before seeing spot duty as a backup in Buffalo (2015-16) and Oakland (2017). The Raiders cut him last September. For the past few weeks, he’d been vying to become Patrick Mahomes’ backup in Kansas City.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019