Adam Gase already has his first win with the New York Jets. The fact it came over his GM, though, further intensifies a pressure-heavy situation.
The Jets made the curious decision to cut general manager Mike Maccagnan loose late Wednesday morning. The title will be held by Adam Gase on an interim basis, adding it to his head coaching duties. Gase wasted no time in asserting his authority. Linebacker Darron Lee, one of Maccagnan’s first-round picks, was dealt to Kansas City hours after the announcement.
Maccagnan’s ousting was surprising enough. The forced departure followed up an eventful offseason overseen by the veteran executive. Valuable Jets resources were devoted to what became Maccagnan’s final offseason, including a surplus in cap space and the third overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. To bid him farewell with most, if not all, of the important transactional activities completed was curious at best.
As rumors began to trickle out of One Jets Drive, however, it was clear internal conflict was at play.
Intramural strife had been hinted at during the rookie selections. A polarizing draft class more or less quieted the rumors down, but they came back rejuvenated in the wake of Wednesday’s news. The “same old Jets” moniker also began to rise back up, as some claimed the Jets were reclaiming their laughingstock status.
Ian Rapoport said the large price tags on newcomers Le’Veon Bell and C.J. Mosley got Gase pouting. Manish Mehta reported further, saying Gase didn’t want him at all. In a report from Rich Cimini, Jets CEO Christopher Johnson denied that Gase orchestrated the firing. He did, however, admit the relationship between Gase and Maccagnan was lacking chemistry.
Christopher Johnson just finished a call with beat writers. He insisted this wasn't a power struggle, and that his decision to fire Maccagnan had nothing to do with Gase. But he also said the synergy b/w AG and MM "was not everything I was hoping for." #Jets
— Rich Cimini (@RichCimini) May 15, 2019
Johnson’s comments come just under five months after he said he wouldn’t hire a coach that would seek total control in decision making. It was a caveat that reportedly scared off other candidates, such as Baylor University football boss Matt Rhule.
Only one could emerge victorious in the metaphorical scuffle. The winner would earn the right to be the primary overseer of the Jets’ latest rebuild.
Maccagnan secured the vital pieces that make this rebuild more hopeful (I.e. Sam Darnold and Jamal Adams), but whiffed additions elsewhere couldn’t save him. Instead, Gase prevailed. Now he’s the one that has to prove himself.
Gase entered New York with plenty to prove as it was. Critics have already labeled his continued status as an NFL head coach as a byproduct of Peyton Manning‘s on-field heroics. He did manage to guide an undermanned Miami Dolphins franchise to a surprise playoff berth in 2016. His South Beach tenure wound up as a washout, however, to the tune of a 13-19 record the rest of the way. To call the Miami reaction to his sacking “mixed” would be the understatement of the season.
Until Gase establishes consistency in his head coaching career, his success at the NFL level will always be forever tied to the monster numbers Manning put up while the pair worked in Denver together. The endgame of this supposed power play turned out to be further control of his NFL destiny. Now that he’s got it, it’s time to perform.
The Maccagnan firing’s timing ensures that the team Gase will lead into battle 16 times this season is one put together by an outside source. In essence, Gase has appeared to have created himself a de facto mulligan if the high-risk, high-reward moves don’t pan out on the field.
If the Jets lose, it’s not his team. If they win, maybe even sneak into the crowded AFC playoff picture, Gase comes off as a wizard for taking this supposed ragtag group to the next level.
There are plenty of Jets facing make or break situations in 2019. In the short term, Gase isn’t one of them.
Gase is 1-0 as head coach of the Jets, though that victory only appears in his personal win column of moral victories, where everyone can be undefeated. If it’s the first of many victories with a Jets logo attached to it in the coming future, playoff-starved fans won’t mind it one bit.
The ill-timed departure of Maccagnan is going to go down as one of the turning points in Jets history. It’s up to Gase, the supposed architect, and benefactor, behind it, to ensure it’s for better, not worse.