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The Jets are an aimless embarrassment

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NFL: New York Jets at Buffalo Bills Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

I don’t have any sympathy for Mike Maccagnan.

His firing was overdue. He had four years to try his hand at being the Jets’ general manager, and his record was objectively poor in almost every category. He didn’t show the big picture vision necessary to build a Super Bowl contender. And there is something poetic about him being pushed out because he lost a power struggle. Just months ago he orchestrated a media campaign designed to make sure Todd Bowles and not he paid the price for the team’s disappointing season.

He needed to be relieved of his duties. I am convinced of that.

But as they do so frequently, the Jets have somehow managed to bungle things even when they are making an obvious move.

Much of the discussion from today’s change will revolve around the timing. I have already seen many comments beginning with, “The timing isn’t ideal, but.”

There is no but.

The reasons Mike Maccagnan should have been fired in January are only tangentially related to Mike Maccagnan.

The end goal was not to simply fire the general manager who was in place. Firing Mike Maccagnan was a means to an end, not an end itself.

The end is building a team of competent professionals who work well together and are capable of executing a shared vision. That was the reason for firing Maccagnan in January.

This was a chance for a reset. The people in place were not capable of competently executing a vision. It was time to change.

Instead the Jets decided to take a half measure. Maccagnan stayed. Todd Bowles went.

The day after Bowles’ firing was announced, team CEO Chris Johnson indicated he would not consider any coach who wanted to take Maccagnan’s power and influence.

Maccagnan’s influence meant the Jets could cross any coach with a distinguished resume off their list from the outset. Coaches with good resumes have options, and they can extract more power.

Maccagnan’s influence went beyond merely keeping his job, though. Multiple potential matches for the head coaching job reportedly fell apart because the general manager insisted in having a say over the assistants who would be hired. That’s very heavy handed stuff which further whittles down the candidates willing to work for your team.

In the end the Jets had to settle for Adam Gase, a coach who had just been fired after a sub-.500 run with a division rival. He was not the team’s first choice, but he was the top choice who would agree to the conditions set out.

This was a match that led to questions beyond Gase’s spotty record as a head coach. Gase also had a reputation for being difficult to work with. There was always a chance this thing would combust.

How quickly it happened was shocking, however.

Maccagnan gave out over $120 million guaranteed in free agency. Then he selected Quinnen Williams with the third overall pick in the NFL Draft.

The day after the Jets picked Williams, word started to leak that there was a major conflict within the organization.

That brought us to today.

I don’t dispute that Maccagnan failed to do his job effectively, but I must reiterate that viewing this only in the lens of whether Mike Maccagnan is employed by the Jets is missing the forest from the trees.

There were two very different paths the team could have taken.

The first path would have been to fire Maccagnan at the same time as Bowles. That would have allowed for an organizational reset. The Jets could have explored all of the potential options available. With Sam Darnold and a lot of cap space, it could have been a very attractive opening. Big name general manager candidates might have been interested. Big fish coaches with the sway to demand some control might have been interested. Promising up and comers might have been interested. The Jets could have been open to all options and structures and picked the one that worked best for them.

Here’s the path the Jets chose.

They kept the general manager. His insistence on control chased off coaching candidates, leading the team to make a second rate hire. The general manager was then allowed to spend record amounts in free agency and make the third overall selection in the Draft. Only after he is allowed to do these things, he is thrown out so that the second rate coaching hire can consolidate complete control. Oh, by the way, said second rate coaching hire failed at his previous stop when he was given that type of control.

Seriously, think this entire sequence of events through. How does this make any sense? What logical long-term plan is being executed.

Let me offer this reminder.

The insistence on not giving a coach total control was the primary reason the Jets didn’t end up with somebody better than Gase. Now that they’ve ended up with this type of hire, they’ve changed their mind and given him total control.

Let’s not even get into what a ridiculous liar Adam Gase is.

(He said that on Friday.)

If a real life business ever ran this way the shutters would have gone up long ago, and you might laugh at the imbecile who made those decisions.

Unfortunately, Chris Johnson actually is running the Jets this way.

Could the Jets end up hiring a quality GM who works well with Gase and has a successful run? Hey, anything is possible.

But would you count on Chris Johnson making the decisions to put together a competent management team?

Read that again. This CEO is so incompetent that he assembled a senior management team that couldn’t even coexist until its first training camp together. Now you’re telling me you have confidence in him to make the right moves?

The teams that operate in such a backwards way are Washington under Dan Snyder and Cleveland under Jimmy Haslam (before the Browns wised up, stopped operating like that, and hired John Dorsey). There’s a reason these teams have been chronic losers. A lack of long-term thinking along these lines usually means a lack of long-term success.

So I won’t join in the, “Better late than never,” talk about firing the general manager.

Being on time was really important. Being on time would have allowed the Jets to build something for the future.

Being late means that the Jets addressed one problem, but they replaced it with other problems.