New Head Coach: 'We're Going To Try To Build A Championship Team Here'


NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A new age of Jets football began on Wednesday morning.

The franchise formally introduced new general manager Mike Maccagnan and head coach Todd Bowles.

“He is a natural leader,” owner Woody Johnson said of Bowles at the introductory news conference.

Johnson opted for wholesale changes following a 4-12 season that went off the rails in Week 2 and never righted itself. The Jets have missed the playoffs four straight seasons, their longest postseason drought since a run of six straight from 1992-97.

Former GM John Idzik and head coach Rex Ryan were fired on Dec. 29. Ryan, who went 26-38 in the years following the Jets’ back-to-back AFC title game appearances, has since signed a five-year contract to be the head coach of the rival Buffalo Bills.

“I thought it was a first-class operation all the way through,” Maccagnan said. “…It was very clear to me that (Johnson) will do whatever it takes to give us an opportunity to be successful … To actually have this opportunity, basically 50 miles from where I grew up, is a dream come true.”

Maccagnan, a 15-year personnel man with the Houston Texans and personal favorite of Charley Casserly — a longtime NFL executive hired by Johnson as a consultant at the end of the regular season — was one of seven candidates the Jets interviewed, but the only one to be brought back for a second interview.

“We will pursue every avenue to acquire players,” Maccagnan said.

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A native of Hightstown, New Jersey, Maccagnan has more than 25 years of NFL personnel experience, including having spent the last few years as the Texans’ director of college scouting. He had a hand in Houston drafting Pro Bowlers like defensive ends J.J. Watt and Mario Williams, as well as wide receiver Andre Johnson, and signed undrafted free agent running back Arian Foster.

Bowles was hired as head coach following an equally exhaustive search. The Jets interviewed six candidates, but were impressed enough with Bowles, the former defensive coordinator of both the Philadelphia Eagles and Arizona Cardinals, to bring him back for a second interview and not wait for their reported first choice, Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn.

He said that coming home and leading the Jets is “a dream of a lifetime for me.”

“We’re going to be a tough team,” Bowles said. “We’re going to be an intelligent team, we’re going to do things the right way … We’re going to try to build a championship team here. That’s my only job.”

Bowles, who hails from Elizabeth, New Jersey, is known as a tireless worker, leader and motivator who as an on-field tactician is considered a master at in-game adjustments. He is also considered very deserving of his first real opportunity to call the shots.

“It’s not gonna happen overnight, but we have pieces in place,” Bowles said. “…We know we have our work cut out for us.”

He added that the culture is going to have to change.

“Not that the other culture was bad,” Bowles said, “but it didn’t win.”

Maccagnan said hiring Bowles was a no-brainer.

“It just felt right,” the GM said. “I’m very excited about going to war here with Todd.”

The Jets’ new GM and head coach inherit a team in dire need of answers at quarterback, and upgrades on the offensive line, at linebacker and in the secondary. The good news is the Jets have the No. 6 overall pick in the draft and with a few moves could be more than $40 million under the salary cap.

Maccagnan is also in the process of revamping the Jets’ scouting department. He will reportedly receive the budget necessary to improve the evaluation process, something that deteriorated greatly under Idzik.

Late last week Maccagnan fired the Jets’ two top college scouts, Terry Bradway and Jeff Bauer.

The Jets have named former NFL head coach Chan Gailey offensive coordinator and are reportedly interested in hiring Miami Dolphins defensive line coach Kacy Rodgers to be defensive coordinator.

“He knows how to run the football,” Bowles said of Gailey. “He understands complementary football … We’re going to be a tough, hard-nosed offense.”