Adam Gase filled a leadership vacuum with the Jets. Is that really a bad thing? | Politi
Updated 1:18 PM; Today 1:01 PM
By Steve Politi | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
The press conference called for a little taste of Col. Jessup, but for whatever reason, Adam Gase decided to go with Sergeant Shultzinstead.
I know nothing, the Jets head coach insisted again and again, about the decision to fire general manager Mike Maccagnan in the weirdly timed and much-criticized franchise shake-up earlier this month. This is his story and he is sticking with it, even if few in the media, the fanbase or the NFL as a whole believes any of it.
“That would be false,” Gase said of the idea that he stabbed his GM in the back, and maybe he didn’t do so directly. But let’s be real here. The idea that Christopher Johnson fired Maccagnan without some kind of input from his new head coach strains all credulity.
Johnson is not exactly Al Davis. He is a temporary owner who reportedly dialed up NFL Network talking heads for advice on his GM search, which is as crazy as the president asking a Fox News host to help make cabinet picks.
(Okay. Bad example.)
Gase can insist all he wants that he and the GM were just hunky dory, but if the new guy in the building had made it clear that he supported the man who helped hire him, Maccagnan would still be here. To believe otherwise is silly.
But I don’t buy the narrative that Gase won a power struggle, either. I think it’s far more likely that he stepped into a leadership vacuum. He saw a disengaged owner, an indecisive GM and the memory of a weak head coach running a franchise that has not reached the playoffs in eight seasons, so he took control.
Can you blame him?
So I would have loved to have seen Gase own this not-so-hostile takeover on Thursday, his first press conference since Maccagnan was sent packing and he was named acting GM. He saw a mess and he grabbed a mop.
The Jets, now and forever, are an NFL joke | Politi
Firing general manager Mike Maccagnan weeks AFTER he spends $100 million and handles the draft? C'mon.
It was a Belichickian move by a man with a Handleyesque record, but he is right about one thing: “I think fans care if we win or lose,” Gase said. “If win games, nobody’s going to care about this, I’ll tell you that. Our job is to win. That’s it.”
That nugget came at the end of a press conference that, for mid May before an OTA, was about as contentious as possible. This is the same room where Rex Ryan once had to answer questions about his foot fetish, so the bar is pretty high for wild press conferences in Florham Park. Still, it was pretty good theater.
Gase denied reports that he believes two of the biggest offseason acquisitions -- running back Le’Veon Bell and linebacker C.J. Mosley -- were overpaid. He insisted that trading linebacker Darron Lee, a move that happened hours after he assumed the throne, had been in the works for a while. And the rumors that Gase and Maccagnan didn’t work well together?
“The majority of the time Mike and I were on the same page,” Gase said. “You have disagreements. There’s always going to be disagreements in this business as far as philosophy, what you want to do player-personnel wise. At the end of the day, he had the final decision. That was his right.”
It was, of course, until it wasn’t. Gase insisted that Johnson will hire the new GM, but given the owner’s desire for synergy, it’ll be Gase who has the final call here. The fact that the search is moving so slowly -- the team has yet to conduct any interviews -- makes you wonder if good candidates don’t want to step into this mess.
Gase said the Jets weren’t going to hire a “yes man” because, he said, “I don’t really hang out with yes men.” His inference was that whoever steps into Maccagnan’s role will have the autonomy that all GMs want, and that he’ll focus on coaching the team.
Everything about his few months in New Jersey points to something else entirely. That could lead to more contentious moments down the road. For now, though, the Jets were a franchise screaming out for strong personality to take charge.
They certainly got that from Gase. The only power struggle that the Jets fans will care about, however, is in the AFC East.