A look at what’s happening around the New York Jets:
1. Maccagnan role a question: The Brothers Johnson, Woody and Christopher, face some tough decisions as they chart a course for their perennial also-ran franchise. The future of coach Todd Bowles is only one part of the equation. They have to decide whether they’re all-in with general manager Mike Maccagnan, a choice that could have an impact on the power structure of the organization.
From all indications, Maccagnan will survive this mess of a season and get a chance to finish his rebuilding project. If Bowles is a goner, the question becomes: Will Maccagnan have the power to hire the next coach? Remember, he didn’t hire Bowles. It was an arranged marriage, orchestrated by Woody Johnson’s handpicked consultants, Charley Casserly and Ron Wolf. As a result, Johnson altered his chain of command. He gave equal power to the GM and coach, both of whom report directly to ownership, not each other.
As I’ve said before, it’s a flawed setup because of the conflicting agendas inherent in the two jobs. This cropped up a few weeks ago when Maccagnan, opting to protect future assets, stood pat at the trading deadline. Bowles, trying to win games now, most certainly would’ve preferred a reinforcement or two.
So let’s fast-forward to the present set of circumstances. If Maccagnan is entrusted with the responsibility of hiring the next coach, it essentially means an increase in power and a likely contract extension. Maccagnan, like Bowles, is signed through 2020. It wouldn’t be a healthy working environment if the GM has less security than the new coach, so ownership likely would add a couple of years to Maccagnan’s deal.
Simply put, the Brothers Johnson would be hitching their wagon to Maccagnan, who went from NFL Executive of the Year (2015) to the Guy Who Drafted Sam Darnold (2018). In between the highs, he did a mediocre job of restocking the roster and deserves his fair share of blame for the current state of affairs. That said, I think CEO Christopher Johnson sees Maccagnan as part of the solution. If not, he needs to blow it up and start over.
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Let’s examine another side. If ownership keeps the same power structure, meaning another arranged marriage for Maccagnan, it opens a can of worms. It would be a half-hearted vote of confidence for Maccagnan and it probably would scare away the best coaching candidates. If ownership again uses outsiders to run the search (remember the head-hunting firm that picked John Idzik for GM in 2013?), it would be akin to cutting down Maccagnan at the knees.
As you can see, it’s not as simple as replacing the coach. The Jets have a way of making things more complicated than they need to be.
2. Waiting with “Bated” breath: I’m really curious to see if offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates came out of the bye week with any fresh ideas and/or wrinkles for his unit, which ranks 29th in yards. Maybe he got inspired by watching his coaching buddy, Sean McVay, call plays for the Los Angeles Rams in their epic victory over the Kansas City Chiefs. The losing Chiefs scored more points Monday night (51) than the Jets have in their past four games (43).
The Jets’ offense is flat and unimaginative. Wide receiver Quincy Enunwa had some interesting comments about the recent slump.
“Some teams are doing a really good job of scheming and game planning and reading our tells,” Enunwa told ESPN. “They were well prepared. Not to say we weren’t prepared, but they had it in their mind to do better than we did.”
The Jets are weird. Statistically, they run the ball better with passing personnel (three wide receivers) and they throw the ball better with running personnel (two tight ends). One thing is clear: Bates needs to find some answers.
3. Race for No. 1: Some fans, no doubt, will restart the tanking talk. Right now, the Jets (3-7) hold the No. 4 pick in the draft, one game off the pace for the No. 1 overall pick. Problem is, the Arizona Cardinals (2-8) and Oakland Raiders (2-8) have the hardest and second-hardest remaining schedules, respectively, so it will be tough to overtake them. The Jets have an 8.5 percent chance of capturing the top pick, per ESPN Stats & Information data. The draft is top-heavy with defensive players, so maybe they can find that elusive edge rusher.
4. Brady vs. Jets, Chapter 35: I remember walking outside the old Foxboro Stadium on the night of Sept. 23, 2001, telling other writers this would our final trip to the rat-trap stadium. The New England Patriots were 0-2, having just lost to the Jets. Their quarterback, Drew Bledsoe, was in the hospital with a serious chest injury. His backup was a sixth-round stiff named Tom Brady. The Patriots would have a new stadium in 2002, so this was our farewell.
OK, I was wrong.
As it turned out, we returned for the playoffs that season (the Tuck Rule Game) for what amounted to the start of the Patriots’ dynasty, which came out of nowhere.
Seventeen years later, Brady continues to amaze with his longevity and brilliance. For context, let’s compare him to the Jets. He has outlasted three GMs, three head coaches and nine different starting quarterbacks (full-time).
On Sunday, Brady, 41, will make his 35th start against the Jets. His record: 26-8, including 1-1 in the playoffs. Take a good look, folks. You never know if it’ll be his final trip to MetLife Stadium.
5. Rx for RA: One player to watch over the final six games is wide receiver Robby Anderson, who, like most everybody else on offense, is having a disappointing season. He’s had a bum ankle in recent weeks, but let’s not forget he wasn’t producing much before the injury. If it continues, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Jets put him on the trading block in the offseason.
They can keep him on the cheap next season because he’ll be a restricted free agent (the qualifying tender will be about $3 million), but they might be tempted to cut bait if someone makes an offer. We already know the Philadelphia Eagles might be a suitor; they tried to pry him away at the trading deadline.
Anderson is an enigma. He has talent, no question, but there comes a point where you have to wonder if he’ll ever reach his ceiling.
6. Jason is killing it: No one seems to be paying attention, but Jason Myers is having one of the best kicking seasons in Jets history. He has made 91.3 percent of his field goals, a fraction below Nick Folk’s all-time mark (91.7 percent in 2013). In some ways, Myers’ numbers are more impressive than Folk’s because he already has made more from 50-plus yards — four to Folk’s three.
Myers is an interesting story. He grew up in the San Diego area, but he attended tiny Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York, where they honored him with a bobblehead game two years ago.
“No one knows how to pronounce Marist,” he said, smiling. “They ask where it’s at, and I tell them Poughkeepsie, and they’re like, ‘Yeah, OK, I know.’ But you know they don’t know.”
After Marist, Myers played briefly in the Arena League. His big break came at the 2015 Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, where he attended a pro day for specialists. He crushed the workout, resulting in a contract from the Jacksonville Jaguars. He lasted two-plus seasons before a midseason slump resulted in a pink slip. After failing to make the Seattle Seahawks in the preseason, he went to the Jets on waivers — a great pickup.
“It’s nice to see the hard work pay off,” he said. “I’m kicking the way I know I’m capable of kicking.”
7. The last word: “Personally, I want us to finish the season above .500. My ultimate goal would be 9-7. At the beginning of the season, I wanted us to go to the Super Bowl. Now that that’s … well, I won’t say that. Now that it’s further away from being attainable, I just want to go 9-7. That would look good for everybody. Obviously, it’s not an easy thing to do. But anything less than us winning those games and not finishing about .500 would be really frustrating.” — Quincy Enunwa