The New York Jets made a stunning move on Wednesday, firing general manager Mike Maccagnan. While the actual firing of Maccagnan is not shocking, the timing of it is. Maccagnan was allowed to navigate the team through free agency and the NFL Draft, and just like that he was fired. The timing of this move puts the Jets dysfunction on full display for all over the NFL to see. Here is why this move just does not make any sense right now.
The New York Jets were finally headed in the right direction it seemed after decades of being the laughing-stock of the NFL. They drafted a franchise quarterback in Sam Darnold in 2018, fired a below average head coach in Todd Bowles, signed elite free agents in C.J. Mosley and Le’Veon Bell, and drafted arguably the “best player” in the 2019 NFL Draft in Quinnen Williams.
It finally looked like the culture was changing for the better in Florham Park, New Jersey. But with a couple of steps forward, the Jets took what felt like a hundred steps back on Wednesday. The Jets announced on Wednesday that they fired general manager Mike Maccagnan and vice president of player personnel Brian Heimerdinger. These moves sent Jets fans and media into a sense of disbelief, not because of the actual firings, but because of the poor timing.
Timing is everything, and Jets owner Christopher Johnson showed absolutely poor timing on Wednesday. These two moves would have made perfect sense at the end of the 2018 season, when Johnson could have gutted the coaching and front office staff. Johnson could have found a new general manager, the general manager could have found a coach he can work with, and the new coach could have installed his new playbook. However, Johnson showed that he really didn’t know what he was doing in January, when he fired Bowles but kept Maccagnan. As it stands right now, head coach Adam Gase will serve as the interim general manager.
These moves by Johnson sparked an uproar from fans and the media, especially Connor Hughes of the Athletic. Hughes took to Twitter on Wednesday to let out his frustrations and say everything that all Jets nation was thinking.
Let the current state of the #Jets sink in:
They 1) Allowed Maccagnan to pick the head coach2) Allowed Maccagnan to spend all their money in free agency3) Allowed Maccagnan to run their draft
Now they’ve … fired Maccagnan
That’s incompetence like I’ve never seen before
— Connor Hughes (@Connor_J_Hughes) May 15, 2019
Maccagnan and Johnson worked together after Bowles was fired to help bring in the former Miami Dolphins head coach, in a move that was criticized by many. Gase went through a power struggle with the Dolphins front office during his time in Miami, which led to his firing after the 2018 season. Shortly after free agency and the draft, there were reports of a growing rift between Gase and Maccagnan over personnel decisions. Both men constantly shot down those rumors, with Gase even stating that those reports “pissed him off”. Johnson went on to lie about these reports, stating that Gase and Maccagnan were working well together and there were no truths behind these reports.
As far as free agency goes, Maccagnan spent over $191 million on Bell, Mosley, Jamison Crowder, and Henry Anderson. Now those players are very good at their positions and will be a huge help to the Jets in 2019, but there is an argument to be made that Maccagnan was a foolish spender (Bell: $25 million guaranteed; Mosley: $51 million guaranteed). Gase’s preference especially at running back is to have a committee like he had in Miami with Kenyan Drake and Frank Gore, instead of one bell cow back like Bell is expected to be.
Johnson gave Maccagnan the keys to another draft as well, where Maccagnan selected Alabama defensive lineman Quinnen Williams with the third overall pick. Maccagnan hit a home run with Williams but the rest of the draft was a lot of high risk/reward type of players like Jachai Polite from Florida. The NFL Draft had been Maccagnan’s biggest flaw since he became the Jets general manager in 2015, selecting players like Christian Hackenberg who was a complete bust for the Jets.
As you can see, Maccagnan wasn’t a great general manager but did potentially find a franchise quarterback in Darnold and other elite players. However, it just doesn’t make any sense that Johnson would fire Maccagnan now, instead of doing it right after the season ended. What happened on Wednesday is just another example of how dysfunctional the Jets are and why they haven’t been championship contenders since Super Bowl III.