The Jets have a lifetime 5-1 record against the Texans. I took a look back at these games and other than a last minute Sanchez-Holmes touchdown to win in 2010, these games are largely uninteresting. I'd like to focus this week's throwback on a far more interesting Jets-Texans conversation: GM Mike Maccagnan.
NFL GMs can change the course of a franchise for years. There are countless examples of this. Sure, there are the clear consensus studs that come out of college that do not necessarily require an expertise in scouting to recognize. Teams might fortunately coordinate really poor seasons with those studs. A perfect example is the Colts: Peyton Manning behind center for 13 years, suffer through a 2-14 season, and then draft Andrew Luck with the #1 pick. Then there are the teams whose GMs find diamond in the rough type players in the later rounds who have a similar type impact. Perhaps the best example is Tom Brady, who was drafted in the 6th round out of Michigan. Cowboys fans might also point out that Tony Romo went undrafted.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand why the Jets have been unable to field a consistent championship contender: aside from finding a franchise quarterback, they have struck out on a number of these players who were at the time supposed to alter the direction of the franchise. Take for example wide receiver. Stephen Hill was drafted in the 2012 2nd round with much promise. He was cut 2 years later.
Maccagnan was an attractive hire because of his experience in scouting. After several scouting stints with the Canadian Football League and the Washington Redskins, Macccagnan spent 15 years with the Houston Texans scouting department, beginning as a college scout coordinator before being promoted to director of college scouting in 2011. Mac was handed a ton of money and cap space upon taking the Jets GM job because the Jets had drafted so poorly in recent years and had not handed out many secondary contracts. He landed several impact free agents that were signed to win now, while buying time to let the younger guys develop.
Maccagnan's longstanding connection with the Texans has worked to the Jets immediate advantage. Former Texan Ryan Fitzpatrick was traded to the Jets in the offseason for a 7th round draft pick. You know who could really use Fitzpatrick right now? The Texans. The trade has paid dividends. The Jets could have been in an early hole had Maccagnan not brought in someone like Fitzpatrick who had the experience in Chan Gailey's system to win when called upon.
What's different about Maccagnan's start as the Jets general manager is that he is on the same page as his head coach. Woody Johnson arguably set the franchise back 2 years when he fired Mike Tannenbaum in 2012, but not Rex Ryan. Idzik and Ryan were clearly not on the same page and it cost them both their jobs. The Jets may have not had to settle for Idzik had they fired Rex, as a number of quality GMs turned down the offer because they could not hand pick their own head coach. This time around Woody learned from his mistake, firing both his GM and his head coach, which helped clear the way for a more suitable candidate in Maccagnan.
It will be very interesting to see what type of tenure the Maccagnan/Bowles regime ends up with. The biggest factor is finding a quarterback. Maccagnan showed in May's draft he is not afraid to trade up or down. Is there a second round Derek Carr or third round Russell Wilson on the horizon? Is Bryce Petty the answer? Another huge factor is whether or not they can draft talent who fulfill their rookie contracts and are worthy of signing to an extension. The fact that the Jets do not have any current players from the 08-'10 draft classes is almost impossible to believe. Mo Wilkerson just might break into this seemingly uncharted secondary contract territory.
So far we have seen a glimpse of Maccagnan's potential to find those diamond in the rough type players. One example is when the Jets claimed safety Dion Bailey off of waivers and he immediately helped the Jets secure a win against the Dolphins after Calvin Pryor left with a bruised knee. Bailey saved a touchdown on a pass to Jordan Cameron and made a critical red zone tackle on shifty Jarvis Landry to set up the game sealing Revis interception. How many times have we seen the Jets implode late in the game in those situations? What could have happened if one of our younger corners was forced back there because Bailey was still on the waiver wire?
Looking back at this hire 5, 10, 15 years from now, we could have the Houston Texans to thank for grooming Mike Maccagnan for the Jets GM position. For now, the game on Sunday is as big of a must-win as the Jets have had all season.
Have you liked what you've seen from Mac so far? Are you hopeful for the future?