By Steve Lichtenstein
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Talk about a news dump.
When many in New York were a few hours from clocking out for the final time in 2017 and the media focused on their co-tenants’ new general manager hire, the Jets, ever so quietly, announced Friday that they were extending the contracts of GM Mike Maccagnan and coach Todd Bowles until 2020.
Both members of this joke of an organization were already under contract for next season. Heaven forbid they’d enter it as “lame ducks.”
Each can point to a few successful moments in their three years as a joint partnership. But let’s not forget — they haven’t won anything!
Zero playoff berths — to extend Gang Green’s streak to seven straight seasons — in a league in which it seems that just about everyone outside of Cleveland has made it in that period. Two consecutive records of 5-11. (I’m already counting on a defeat in New England on Sunday.)
For this, they get rewarded?
I get that many, including yours truly, picked the Jets to finish at the very bottom of the league. So that’s the measuring stick? Beating the predictions of a bunch of prognosticators, who get a lot of things wrong every season?
I’m not suggesting that the Jets should have fired Maccagnan and Bowles. Specifically, Maccagnan deserves at least another season since it’s fair to allow him more time to turn around the mess left behind by John Idzik, his predecessor. Maccagnan made some shrewd maneuvers to bring in solid veterans to mentor a young team this season.
Maccagnan’s drafts, however, have been a mixed bag. The stench from the Christian Hackenberg second-round selection in 2016 permeates the Jets’ office, since it likely delayed the search for a franchise quarterback. Hopefully, safety Marcus Maye, the 2017 selection, will prove to be the end of the franchise’s long-running second-round curse.
More importantly, Maccagnan deserves one final chance to fill the quarterback hole this offseason. For all the good that Josh McCown did this season, he was no better than an average NFL signal-caller. Maccagnan has to bring in someone worthy of the role, whether it’s a free agent (don’t hold your breath) or someone he likes in the draft who made it past quarterback-needy teams such as the Browns, Giants and Broncos.
We’ll know at this time next season if Maccagnan failed again.
As for Bowles, I thought the Johnsons — presumably Chris, with brother Woody hobnobbing in England as an ambassador — weren’t going to judge him on the Jets’ record.
Well, what was it that convinced the Johnsons? The countless games the Jets lost by poor discipline, clock management and play calling? All the games the Jets no-showed against beatable opponents? Or the disruptions from the likes of Geno Smith, Sheldon Richardson, Brandon Marshall and Muhammad Wilkerson over the past three years?
Bowles’ extension seems as simple as, “Well, the experts thought we’d win two games. We won five. Let’s get this done!”
I just don’t get the urgency, especially adding on that second extended season. Why not let the duo work on a prove-it basis next season? Players do it all the time.
Does anyone really think a player is going to give it less than his best because his coach is in his final contract season? I’m fairly certain a general manager’s status isn’t front and center on a linebacker’s mind as he’s breaking down a ball carrier to tackle.
There’s no rule that says this had to be done before Black Monday. That the Jets did it when they thought few would be paying attention speaks volumes.
For a FAN’s perspective of the Nets, Jets and the NHL, follow Steve on Twitter @SteveLichtenst1