Mike Maccagnan held his midseason press conference today. A midseason or end of season press conference isn’t a difficult task for a general manager when his team is exceeding expectations.
When the team is not having success, it gets trickier. In that spot a general manager can’t do much good, but he can pour gasoline onto the fire. He has to walk a fine line between throwing people under the bus and painting a picture so rosy that he comes off as out of touch. For evidence see Mike Tannenbaum’s end of season press conference in 2011 when he gushed about Brian Schottenheimer doing a great job and claimed Josh Baker was the future of the team. John Idzik’s 2014 midseason press conference also comes to mind.
Maccagnan didn’t have to walk that tightrope today. He could talk about his surprising 4-5 team.
On the team’s performance:
Early theme from Maccagnan: Happy with progress but keeps saying, “We’re still 4-5.” #Jets— Rich Cimini (@RichCimini) November 8, 2017
I like the note Maccagnan hits here. There should be some level of satisfaction with the way the team is exceeding expectations, but 4-5 is still not the type of thing a franchise should shoot for. This is the type of balance the situation calls for.
On the quarterback position:
Mike Maccagnan isn’t discouraged that Christian Hackenberg came out of training camp as third-string QB. #jets— Connor Hughes (@Connor_J_Hughes) November 8, 2017
Maccagnan on QB situation: We’ll sit down & analyze at end of season. ....”I️ don’t think any prerequisite on what we have to do” in terms of getting Hack playing time.— Kimberly Jones (@KimJonesSports) November 8, 2017
Jets GM Mike Maccagnan said QB Josh McCown has "fulfilled all our expectations," but he stopped short of saying... https://t.co/0HhwouMWYE— Rich Cimini (@RichCimini) November 8, 2017
Mike Maccagnan doesn’t rule out Josh McCown returning in 2018. Says there’s still games left. #jets— Connor Hughes (@Connor_J_Hughes) November 8, 2017
Maccagnan on passing on Deshaun Watson: Won’t play “the what-if game.” #Jets— Rich Cimini (@RichCimini) November 8, 2017
Maccagnan can’t very well express disappointment in Hackenberg in public, but it is difficult to believe him on those answers. I totally believe the Jets did not want to play him at all in year one. I think part of the rationale of breaking camp with four quarterbacks was to take that temptation off the table. There is no way you can tell me the plan was for Hackenberg to be a healthy scratch in his second year, though. Until Maccagnan finds an answer at quarterback, the second round pick spent on Hackenberg will likely haunt him.
On Austin-Seferian Jenkins:
Mike Maccagnan said Seferian-Jenkins is “someone you feel really good about” for where he is personally.— Connor Hughes (@Connor_J_Hughes) November 8, 2017
You have to imagine it’s satisfying not just to find a player who contributes on the field but to help somebody get his life back on track.
On his relationship with Todd Bowles:
“I really enjoy Todd, working with Todd.” - Maccagnan #Jets— Connor Hughes (@Connor_J_Hughes) November 8, 2017
Bowles had nice things to say about Maccagnan later in the day.
I have been thinking about the Jets a lot during the day. You won’t find many fanbases happy with a 4-5 team in tenth place in the conference. Jets fans are very satisfied with the team’s performance right now.
I think a lot of this goes back to the way the team played the media game in the months leading up to the season. The Jets have learned some lessons the hard way through the years about the expectations game.
The team was not very aggressive in free agency in 2017. It was the first time since 2014 you could say that.
The Jets did not make drastic moves to improve their roster that year in the offseason. They were playing a longer game. It didn’t seem from their actions like winning in 2014 was their main focus. It was about building for the long haul. It would have been difficult to tell based on the things the people running the team were saying leading up to the season.
Woody Johnson said then, “I’m not going to use the word patient anymore...We want to do it now.” Then head coach Rex Ryan stated that going 8-8 would be an enormous disappointment.
When a team is as bad as the 2014 Jets, I’m not sure ramping down expectations with the fanbase would have done much good, but the vision the team sold did create a lot of unrealistic hopes that added to fan frustrations.
This year, the owner indicated wins and losses were not going to be the only factors the team would use to judge success. The general manager spoke about developing players as one of the ways to determine the success of this season before it began.
There were plenty of prognostications before the season that the Jets would be among the worst teams in the league. The Jets didn’t forcefully push back against them. Privately some members of the organization even conceded it could be a a long season.
Fanbases always feel their team is slighted by the media. If the media says their team is a Playoff contender, they get upset the team isn’t talked about as a Super Bowl contender. If the team is expected to be decent, it should be a Playoff contender. This year’s Jets team was supposed to be the worst in the league. Fans responded it wasn’t that bad of a team. All the Jets had to do was play 4-5 ball to meet this expectation.
Time will tell whether Maccagnan can build this team into a contender, but he has played the media pretty well this year.