Lichtenstein: Firing Of Maccagnan Is Latest Example Of Jets Dysfunction

Steve Lichtenstein
May 15, 2019 - 2:39 pm
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"Jets Dysfunction" is a degenerative disease.

How else can you explain the bizarre restructuring process by owner Christopher Johnson this offseason that now includes Wednesday’s sacking of general manager Mike Maccagnan and vice president of player personnel Brian Heimerdinger?

It's not that the firings weren’t deserved. Maccagnan’s four-year tenure, which yielded a cumulative record of 24-40, was fraught with missteps, particularly in his drafts.

But at what point did Johnson realize that Maccagnan wasn’t the man to execute the company vision?

It wasn’t after last season, a 5-11 debacle. Head coach Todd Bowles and almost his entire staff were casualties, but not the man responsible for the roster.

It wasn’t after Johnson worked with Maccagnan in the new coach selection process that culminated in January’s hiring of Adam Gase, who now becomes the club’s acting GM. Johnson reasserted then that he would be maintaining the idiotic organizational hierarchy, whereby Maccagnan and Gase would each report separately to ownership.

It wasn’t after the beginning of the new league year in March. Maccagnan, presumably with Johnson’s blessing, went on a free agent spending spree, most notably on running back Le’Veon Bell and linebacker C.J. Mosley. All told, Johnson committed over $100 million in guarantees based on Maccagnan’s evaluations.

It wasn’t prior to the 2019 NFL Draft. Johnson allowed Maccagnan to run the war room with a valuable asset in hand in the third overall pick, which was used on defensive lineman Quinnen Williams.

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Maccagnan was even given the green light last week to sign undrafted free agents.

After all this to set the Jets up for the next stage of their rebuild, now Maccagnan had to go?

There had been rumblings in the media for over a month that Maccagnan and Gase were not getting along. The Jets vehemently denied it, with Gase responding to such rumors last week with, “It pisses me off.”

If untenable friction indeed occurred, that’s just another example as to why Johnson’s setup is always doomed to fail. You either have a GM overseeing everything, including the coach, or you give the coach the authority to “buy the groceries,” as the legendary Bill Parcells once said, with the ultimate say over the final 53.

The Jets? Under the Johnson brothers’ "Reign of Error" (Woody turned the team over to Christopher when he was named Ambassador to the United Kingdom in 2017) they continue to do everything ass-backwards. With the league trending toward high-scoring passing offense, they hired defensive-minded, conservative head coaches before Gase. Instead of prioritizing payroll on what the modern game has deemed premium positions, the top of the Jets’ salary cap chart features a running back, interior defensive linemen and inside linebackers. According to multiple reports, it was Maccagnan’s gross overpayment of Bell that irked Gase the most.

Unfortunately, another offseason has now been wasted because the Jets refused to fire Maccagnan at the appropriate time. If this were done in January, there would have been far fewer public complaints, and the Jets would have found much greater variety in the replacement pool.

Remember, as awful as the past three seasons have been, the Jets job was fairly attractive a few months ago. Incoming GMs would have found a franchise quarterback in place in Sam Darnold, over $100 million in salary cap space, and the aforementioned third overall pick.

Joe Douglas, the Eagles’ V.P. of player personnel, is being mentioned as a possible replacement. He may have a fine track record. However, without any structural changes coming from the top, dysfunction will continue to plague this franchise.

For a FAN’s perspective of the Nets, Devils and Jets, follow Steve on Twitter @SteveLichtenst1.