FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – Mike Maccagnan said precious little of note on Wednesday in his introductory press conference but that’s not a problem. His resume will do most of the talking anyway.
In hiring Maccagnan, the New York Jets went the opposite route of their last two general managers, both of whom were seen as numbercrunchers and salary cap experts. In particular, the recently fired John Idzik was painted as a bean counter, a perception that took on reality after two drafts with 19 selections yielded just one bonafide starter in Sheldon Richardson. Most of the other picks by Idzik have done very little in terms of contributors. In Idzik, the Jets got what they hired – a man with little experience on the player personnel side of the game but who could crunch numbers with the best of them.
So perhaps it isn’t surprising that Maccagnan inherits a team with plenty of salary cap space, an Idzik strength, but also a team that lacks talent up and down its roster – the outgoing general manager’s most serious of weaknesses.
But in their new general manager, the Jets have found the antipode to their recent general managers. Maccagnan is a player personnel specialist. He began his career as a scout and has since worked his way up the player personnel side. In fact, he has no formal background in salary cap or contract negotiations. He was most recently the director of college scouting for the Houston Texans, an organization with a track record for solid drafts.
His resume in that regard could not be further from that of Idzik and for the sake of his career, he had better hope his future is the polar opposite of the fired Jets general manager.
Maccagnan outlined precious little on Wednesday during a press conference where he was introduced alongside new head coach Todd Bowles. The coaching staff is far from completed and he can’t accurately outline his thoughts, even initial ones, until after that point.
But for a team whose fans are itching for a winning season after four years without the postseason and a 26-38 record during that stretch, Maccagnan wouldn’t promise a quick turnaround.
“I wouldn’t necessarily put a timetable on everything. I do think there is a good foundation of players in place. We do obviously have to go forward and try to improve our overall talent; everyone in the NFL has to do that,” Maccagnan said on Wednesday.
“I do think there are parts and pieces in place to turn this thing around.”
As he outlined his past, which included a start with the Washington Redskins as an intern where he came up through the system under famed head coach Joe Gibbs and well-respected executive CharleyCasserly (who was hired as a consultant on this search), it was clear that Maccagnan has actual experience on the football side of things. He knows and understands the game, has been vitally involved in the draft and player evaluations.
It is a breath of fresh for an organization that outside the selection of Richardson in 2013, has seen very little in terms of star power added via the NFL Draft. The returns on the free agent front, in particular over the past two years, haven’t been much better.
What sticks out about the Jets new general manager is that he knows and understands this team, having grown up in the tri-state area and knowing a thing or two about this organization.
There’s been a perception both locally and nationally about the Jets in recent years, with terms such as ‘circus’ and ‘joke’ making this an organization that is a perpetual laughingstock and backpage fodder. Maccagnan knows this, understands this and still took the job.
Why? Because he doesn’t see it.
“I grew up in New Jersey so I’m very familiar with the history of the Jets. I think for me from afar, the Jets always seemed to have a lot of things in the media. For me when I got in the building and started interacting with the people, for me this was a first-class organization through and through,” Maccagnan said.
“And the people here – at the end of the day you’re really [drawn] to the people – and everyone I’ve met here is very nice and friendly and they’re very passionate about winning. For me, I was quite impressed with the organization as a whole. I think the parts and pieces – Woody has built an amazing facility here, all the pieces are in place. We just need to go out there and coach and find the right players and hopefully put this whole thing together and build a championship organization.”