Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Jets Hire Maccagnan as GM, Rush to Hire Todd Bowles as Head Coach

Woody Johnson better hope his new hires for head coach and general manager work out, otherwise the next banner that he will see flying over the Jets training center might read, "sell the team."

The Jets made their decision on Tuesday. The much talk about search for the next HC and GM of the NYJ is now over, and in a lot of ways, feels like a rushed marriage on the part of Woody Johnson, and a move totally orchestrated by consultant Charley Casserly.

First, New York made it official by finalizing a deal with the worst kept secret in the NFL, when they agreed to make Mike Maccagnan their new General Manager. Maccagnan has spent the past week in New Jersey, and it was only a matter of time before he got the job. Maccagnan is a football guy, steeped in personnel, a huge contrast from John Idzik with was more of a salary cap guru. That has to make Jets fans at least crack a smile, since they desperately needed a football guy running the show.

Maccagnan will have his work cut out for him. Not only is he working with a team that has a lot of cap room, he's working with a team is bereft of talent on both sides of the football. If Maccagnan cut his teeth in college scouting, he will need to put those skills to good use in New York quickly. Keep in mind in the three years he's been director of college scouting in Houston, the Texans didn't draft an impact player after the second round.

 It will be fascinating to see if Maccagnan's hire will spell the end of current Director of College Scouting, Terry Bradway. Bradway has seen more lives than a cat in his stay with the Jets, and has been a big reason why the franchise's player personnel has been so poor. If Maccagnan has full autonomy of the organization, as a General Manager should, this will have to be his first order of business.

Now, onto the head coach. Once the Jets hired Maccagnan they decided to quickly hire Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles instead of waiting for Dan Quinn. Quinn, the defensive coordinator of the Seahawks, is coaching in the playoffs. If the Jets wanted Quinn badly they would have to wait until likely after the Super Bowl to hire him. 

A lot had been made that Quinn wanted the Jets and vice versa. It was even reported that Woody Johnson was planning to fly out to Seattle to hire Quinn, if the Hawks had lost to Carolina last week.

Then all of sudden things changed. In part because Quinn was still coaching in the postseason, in part because Todd Bowles was to interview in Atlanta after his discussion with the Jets, and I think in big part to Rex Ryan being in Buffalo. Suddenly Bowles became the be-all-to-end-all. 

Bowles, the Jets apparent "second choice", was getting all kinds of praise from the likes of Casserly, Ron Wolf (another Jets consultant in this search), and from a distance Bill Parcells, who was pushing Atlanta to hire him. We all know how good Parcells is in predicting the success of future head coaches (see Tony Sparano, Eric Mangini, Al Groh). That was apparently enough for Johnson to make him the guy and force yet another coach-GM combination.

Bowles background is impressive. He started his career in pro personnel before moving on to coaching. He's served a defensive coordinator in both Philadelphia under Andy Reid, and Arizona under Bruce Arians. His Cardinals were 5th in the league in points allowed this season. His defense also lead the league in blitzes sent, but was ranked 24th in the league in sacks with 35. The Cardinals were also ranked 24th in total defense. 

Here's the cold reality, when Dan Quinn does get a head coaching job, his work will forever be linked to Todd Bowles. If Quinn succeeds elsewhere and Bowles falters in New York, many will wonder if New York should have waited. If the opposite happens, and Bowles wins big, Woody Johnson will look like a genius.

 What troubles me about this hire is the report by Rich Cimini that says the lines between the head coach and GM will be blurred with the Jets. "The Jets have changed their power structure. He and Bowles will report directly to Johnson, who envisions the GM and coach as equal partners. Previously, the coach reported to the GM," (Cimini, ESPN NY). This is so Jets, and so Woody Johnson.

Maccagnan didn't hire Bowles, he just sat in the room while Johnson and Casserly made the hire. That might speak volumes as to what kind of power Maccagnan will have. If Maccagnan is going to have the powers of GM, he should have power over the head coach in most football matters. The only time they are joined at the hip is when the coach is the GM's pick and their decisions are made in consent. Forcing another GM-Coach combination is making the same mistake all over again. 

Not to mention Charley Casserly's fingerprints are all over this "arranged marriage" of Bowles and Maccagnan, which goes above and beyond the role of a consultant. Casserly worked with Maccagnan while in Houston, and he had Bowles as a player while in Washington. Casserly knew both guys very well, and I am sure he strongly pushed for Johnson to hire both of them.  

At the end of the day, both Bowles and Maccagnan deserve the opportunity to prove they can turn around a bad situation in New York. This will not be easy, there were so many issues left over by the Ryan-Idzik administration that it will likely take more than a year for this group to get this franchise moving in the right direction. 


We will see how it plays out. Stay tuned for an article breaking down the Jets needs for 2015.

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