In the wake of Mike Maccagnan’s ouster, the most important question centers on how appealing the Jets general manager job actually is.
Who in their right mind would want this gig?
“I think this is actually going to be a really attractive job,” CEO Christopher Johnson said after firing Maccagnan on Wednesday. “I don’t think we’re going to have any trouble finding a good GM here. I think this is an excellent spot.”
Truth be told, any prospective candidate, including presumptive front-runner Joe Douglas from the Eagles, should be fully aware of the perils of this particular job.
Note to all candidates: Beware.
Consider the realities of working on One Jets Drive right now.
The organization is the portrait of instability. Johnson, who’s been on the job for two years, has already whacked the head coach and general manager that he gave contract extensions to in December 2017.
There’s no telling what Woody Johnson will do, either, when he returns to take over as early as 2020. After all, he didn’t hire Gase and won’t hire this next general manager.
So, the GM gig could be a two-year appointment before the big boss man returns from his post as the UK Ambassador and blows it all up again. (Remember, Johnson fired John Idzik after two years).
In the meantime, there are fair questions about working for Christopher Johnson that shouldn’t be ignored. Although I believe that he genuinely wants to make the Jets relevant again, his inexperience and indecisiveness shouldn’t be dismissed.
He waxed poetic about Todd Bowles only to let him twist in the wind for the final six weeks last season. In fact, Bowles was the one who insisted that Johnson end this charade and fire him the night of the team’s season-ending loss rather than go through the window dressing of meeting on Black Monday, according to sources.
Then, Johnson told all of us as recently as seven weeks ago that he loved Maccagnan’s plan for the future. He was effusive about the synergy between Maccagnan and Adam Gase at that time only to do an about-face this week.
He lauded Maccagnan for two years only to walk it all back in a vague, disjointed 12-minute conference call Wednesday in which he admitted not wanting to go into specifics about the firing.
Johnson, however, told people in the building recently that reports of Maccagnan’s impending firing were a fabrication, according to sources. They were simply were not true, he told his employees. He made it clear in those private conversations that he was happy with Maccagnan and had no intention of letting him go.
So, a reasonable person can conclude that Johnson was disingenuous or incredibly indecisive. Prospective GM candidates should be leery of either quality in their owner.
On top of that, the Jets privately spread this tall tale of Maccagnan’s job security to people outside the building, a poorly conceived plan that they couldn’t wiggle out of when the general manager was actually fired on Wednesday.
Johnson inexplicably empowered Maccagnan to run a head coaching search, free agency and the draft before firing him. It would have been understandable if he parted ways with the general manager after the season and started over.
The real issue is the timing of the move.
Johnson should have known about Maccagnan’s perceived shortcomings long before this week. The fact that he didn’t puts his next general manager in a precarious position.
The incoming GM essentially lost out on this offseason. He is inheriting players that the previous regime acquired in free agency and the draft. This time on the NFL calendar will also impact the scouting staff that the new GM brings in. It might be too late to add everyone on his wish list.
Douglas, frankly, would be a smart hire given his solid reputation around the league as a talent evaluator. Johnson made it clear that he’s looking for more than just a scout. He took a veiled shot at Maccagnan on Wednesday by announcing that he wants to hire a “strategic thinker.” By all accounts, Douglas would fit that description.
But would Douglas, expected to be a coveted candidate in the next hiring cycle, be better off waiting until after the 2019 season to survey all his options?
Remember, some quality GM candidates – including Colts GM Chris Ballard and Ravens GM Eric DeCosta — said thanks-but-no-thanks to the Jets opening in 2015 for myriad reasons, including the franchise’s reputation as a radioactive outfit.
Gase, of course, is another critical element to the equation. Can the new GM fully trust someone who effectively pushed out a guy, who had just hired him four months earlier?
Gase and Johnson will run the new GM search, but make no mistake about it: Gase will hand-pick his guy and ask for the owner’s blessing. It’s critical that Gase and the new hire fully trust each other. The last thing this organization needs right now is another power play.
There are only 32 NFL GM jobs, so passing one up would be tough for most people… unless they believe they’ll have other options in the near future. Sam Darnold’s presence also makes it an appealing gig.
But every prospective candidate would be wise to carefully consider exactly what they’re walking into and who they’re dealing with.