Keidel: Adam Gase's Coup Has Jets Looking Incompetent Before Season Even Starts

Jason Keidel
May 23, 2019 - 12:57 pm
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Normally, the Jets wait until the NFL season starts before they blow it, the drama ensues and heads roll.

But Gang Green just couldn't wait until September to give us a peek into their yearly chaos.

After a bizarrely-timed power struggle, the man who emerged as the conqueror of the Jets' throne is a head coach who has yet to coach a game of importance for the team. Adam Gase, whose entire head-coaching resume is a losing record with the Miami Dolphins, got his boss, Mike Maccagnan, fired and has been granted the dual-jobs as HC and acting GM of the Jets, despite being mediocre at the former job and wholly inexperienced at the latter.

Now, the Jets somehow expect Gase to answer to a new GM - assuming they find one - when he just had the last one booted from the building. We've seen gridiron greats earn exponential power within an organization - from Bill Parcells to Bill Belichick to John Elway - after they've earned a robust reputation as a winner, either between the lines or on the sidelines. Gase just became a shot-caller without winning a single game.

Just the fact that Peyton Manning was whispered as a potential GM of the Jets speaks to the power Gase already owns. In fact, the main reason we've even heard of Gase is that he coached Manning in Denver and hence Peyton placed a few calls in Gase's favor. Indeed, Manning may be the only football figure with the heft to give Gase any orders, but the five-time NFL MVP, who can all but pick his next job whether it's senator or studio analyst, has predictably demurred from the Jets job. No one of Manning's IQ would be interested in a lost football club like the Jets.

For as long as we've followed sports, we've been schooled on the importance of a pecking order. An NFL team can be judged by the stability of ownership and defined roles down the totem pole. Beyond their inability to find a franchise QB since Joe Namath, the Jets have struggled to keep consistent competence up and down their corporate ladder. In fact, a big reason Joe Namath is their only iconic QB is the franchise's history of cracks in management.

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Look at all the pillars of the NFL - such as the Patriots, Packers, Steelers - and you rarely see battles or backstabbing among management. The Pats have had one head coach in the last 20 years, and the Steelers have had three since 1969, while the Packers were purely run by Ron Wolfe and Ted Thompson. Teams on the rise, from the Chiefs, to the Rams, to the Chargers, also lack tumult at the top.

The Jets fired their GM largely because their head coach wanted it so. Ignore all of Gase's feigned shock or surprise at the Maccagnan's firing. If Gase didn't lead the charge, then he delivered the death blow to his former boss. And with one swift move, the Jets GM job devolved from one of the most coveted jobs in the league to a radioactive spot that will repel or repulse the best minds in football.

An article this week from NJ.com offers eight surreal stories recently spawned by Gang Green's dysfunction. You can argue nearly all their current woes stem from stunning ineptitude at the top. The man who ran the Jets, Woody Johnson, is an ambassador and will either return to the owner's chair in two years or six years, depending on the next presidential election. (Consider how silly that sounds.) His chief second-in-command, Christopher Johnson, is learning how to run an NFL team more by impulse than experience.

Imagine Robert Kraft hiring Steve Fisher as the Patriots' next head coach, then bumping him up to GM. Imagine the Rooneys handing Jon Gruden $100 million to be head coach and personnel czar for the next decade. (If you don't think Gruden hired Mike Mayock as GM, stop reading now.)

Gase already cracked open a chasm between himself and his most heralded player, Le'Veon Bell, by stating he doesn't think Bell was worth his price tag. He's devouring too much press, and too much power, for someone who has accomplished nothing of note in the NFL. His great gridiron deed was being on the same sideline with Peyton Manning during his Denver revival. All we've learned from Gase's professional career is that it's good to be Peyton's friend.

Now, the Johnsons expect Gase to obey the next GM when he had the last one canned. You can be sure Gase will have a big hand in picking his next boss, which already gives the process some funhouse-like distortion. Had Gase entered MetLife with a fistful of Super Bowl rings, you'd understand his sudden ascent. But someone with a career 23-25 coaching record should just be happy he was plucked from the recycle bin. Instead, Adam Gase is the now the face - or the bulging eyes - of the Jets.

Follow Jason on Twitter: @JasonKeidel