The New York Jets General Manager Search: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
By Craig Hoffman
Sep 7, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets ownerWood
y Johnson arrives before the game against the Oakland Raiders at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
The New York Jets continue their search first for a new GM, then a new Head Coach, then offensive and defensive coordinators, then position coaches and finally players. It all starts at the top of the food chain with a General Manager and the theme of the search, as you will see, is looking for a candidate with an extensive background on the personnel side. No “cap guys” need apply.
1) Mike Maccagnan, Director of College Scouting, Houston Texans – Maccagnan was an employee of the Houston Texans from day one of their franchise back in the year 2000 and, according to the Houston Chronicle, has been a “vital” part of their drafts. He ascended the ranks of the personnel department starting as a scout and rising all the way up to Director of College Scouting. Before Houston, Maccagnan worked for former Washington General Manager and current Jets consultant Charlie Casserly as a scout for the Redskins for six years. Six of the team’s 14 first round draft picks went to the Pro Bowl and the last three picks (Mercilus, Hopkins and Clowney) all have potential to go in the near future.
2) Trent Kirchner, Pro Personnel Director, Seattle Seahawks – Kirchner joined Seattle’s front office when John Schneider took over and has been Schneider’s right hand man on the personnel side ever since. Kirchner was a scout for Carolina and before that Washington. Scouting for Washington gives Kirchner a link to Casserly much like Maccagnan. Kirchner’s biggest draft successes have been in the middle rounds of the draft where he has helped find Russell Wilson and Richard Sherman among others.
Jan 28, 2014; Newark, NJ, USA; Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn speaks to the media during Media Day for Super Bowl XLVIII at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
1) Chris Ballard, Director of Player Personnel, Kansas City Chiefs – Ballard left the Chicago Bears in 2013 to pair up with Andy Reid and John Dorsey in Kansas City and has been successful in building the Chiefs roster after 10 mostly successful seasons in Chicago’s personnel department first as an area scout for 10 years then as Director of Pro Personnel in 2012.
Dorsey previously coached at Texas A&M Kingsville so that is an interesting wrinkle to his resume. He knows what it is like to be a coach as well as a scout which makes communication with the coaching staff easier. Ballard would be one of the favorites for the Jets but it is said that he is likely to return to Chicago to take their GM position. However, that is no lock and he would certainly be an excellent candidate if his meeting with the Bears doesn’t work out.
2) Ryan Pace, Director of Player Personnel, New Orleans Saints – Pace is in his 13th season with the Saints going from a game day operations assistant in 2001 to an assistant scout in 2002 to a scout from 2004-2006 to the Director of Pro Personnel for six years to now working hand in hand with GM Mickey Loomis on both pro and college personnel decisions. It is rumored that he is in line for a promotion with New Orleans but he is highly thought of in league circles and if he wants to sit in the big chair and be a GM this might be his time.
3) Rick Mueller, Pro Personnel Director, Philadelphia Eagles – He was in player personnel in New Orleans from 2000-2008 overlapping Ryan Pace before Mueller left to be a GM in the UFL from 2009-11. He returned to the NFL with the Eagles in 2012 as a Player Personnel Executive before his most recent promotion to Director. Prior to that he was a scout for the Jaguars from 1994-2000. Mueller’s time with both Jacksonville and New Orleans show that he knows how to build teams from the ground up.
Nov 24, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Buffalo Bills head coachDoug Marrone
and New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan talk before the game at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
1) Chris Grier, Director of College Scouting, Miami Dolphins – Grier is in his 15th season with Miami working his way up from area scout to Assistant Director of College Scouting to his current position of Director which he has held for the last five years. Before that he started as an intern with the Patriots in 1994 and worked his way up to area scout. Personally this is the 1st candidate on the list I wouldn’t like because I am not impressed by his body of work with the Dolphins who haven’t done much this century as far as the postseason goes with the exception of their 2008 AFC East Championship.
2) Bill Kuharich, Executive Chief of Staff, Cleveland Browns – In February of 2014 Kuharich was brought into Cleveland to be a Player Personnel Advisor, then in May got his current title where, according to the Browns, he will play “a pivotal role in the organization’s personnel moves”. He was with the Saints from 1986-1999 as GM, President and Chief Operations Officer before moving on to Kansas City for another nine years where he worked as Pro Personnel Director and Vice President of Player Personnel. He was out of the league for five years before returning to Cleveland this year and I don’t think he would be the best fit here in New York. His time seems to have passed.
3) Rod Graves, Senior Director of Football Administration, New York Jets – As the search’s lone in-house candidate and African-American his interview seems to be token on multiple levels not the least of which is the fact that the Jets want to clean house completely not let an Idzik hire take over the reigns of the organization. That being said Graves has 30 years of scouting under his belt including a 6 year run as GM of the Cardinals that saw them reach the Super Bowl so under ordinary circumstances he wouldn’t be a terrible hire. The real shame is that the Jets never seemed to use him to revamp the scouting department like it was assumed he was instead he was just added to Terry Bradway and crew and the status quo was kept.
As you can see there are some very good candidates here with good football, especially scouting backgrounds. Pretty much all of these gentlemen would be good choices to help the Jets continue the rebuilding that went on under John Idzik. This time around with a top 10 draft pick and tons of cap room to go along with the ability to come in at the same time as the coach, this is a much more attractive job than last time around.