Mike Maccagnan got a reprieve when he wasn’t fired along with Todd Bowles at the end of a frustrating 2018 season. But he won’t be around much longer if Adam Gase doesn’t work out as the Jets’ new head coach.
The Jets’ search for a successor to Todd Bowles ended Wednesday night with news that Gase would be the next man to attempt to build the franchise into a consistent playoff contender. It’s a hiring that seems to check all the right boxes except when it comes to exciting a beleaguered fan base.
Gase, who has a record of cultivating quarterbacks, should be a good coaching mind in the development of franchise quarterback Sam Darnold. He also has head-coaching experience after building a 23-25 regular-season record in three seasons at Miami. Still, only time will tell whether Maccagnan made the right choice in hiring Gase. This is far from a slam-dunk hire.
At least the Jets didn’t waste any more time making their choice. Had Maccagnan waited much longer, it might have seemed he was hiring someone as a last resort. That would have been the worst thing that could have happened. Had he waited much longer it would have looked like the Jets were going to be left standing in a sad game of musical chairs.
The Jets will say they got the man they wanted all along. I guess we’ll have to believe them, even though Maccagnan nearly waited until just about everyone was gone before choosing Gase.
Coaches were going off the board like quarterbacks in the first round. The Packers took a gamble and hired Matt LaFleur, naming him as their head coach after he was the Titans’ offensive coordinator in 2018. It was his first year as an offensive coordinator after working under Sean McVay in Los Angeles. Good luck with telling Aaron Rodgers what to do. Still, the Packers can proclaim they got the man they sought the most.
The Browns can say the same after hiring offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens from within. Kitchens, 44, had never been a coordinator on any level until Hue Jackson and Todd Haley were fired in November.
Even more questionable is the hiring of former Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury, 39, to lead the Cardinals. Kingsbury went 35-40 over six seasons at Tech, but is apparently a great interview and deemed worthy of landing an NFL job.
At least the Broncos bucked the trend of hiring a young offensive mind. They reached agreement on Wednesday with Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. The 60-year-old has never been a head coach, but has plenty of experience, having spent 32 of the past 33 years in the NFL. He has a reputation for toughness that John Elway wants to restore in Denver.
The Jets’ options dwindled further when Matt Rhule told his staff on Wednesday he was remaining at Baylor.
Maccagnan had to make a move or have it perceived he was settling for leftovers. That would not only look bad for the franchise, but also undermine the new coach, who has to earn the respect of a new locker room and strong personalities like safety Jamal Adams.
In addition, teams that have hired their head coach already are building their staff of assistants. Jets coach Todd Bowles is reuniting with Bruce Arians in Tampa Bay, and you can bet LaFleur, Kingsbury, Fangio and Kitchens already are working the phones, trying to hire the best staff of assistants they can.
Now Gase can get started. Maccagnan needs to give him all the support he can. He and Bowles were once viewed as the duo that would lead the Jets to glory. It didn’t work, and Maccagnan needs to figure out why and not make the same mistakes. His job is on the line now.