FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Adam Gase is sticking to his story that he had nothing to do with the firing of Mike Maccagnan and he doesn't really care if nobody believes it. He insists this wasn't a power grab, and denies he's now the real wizard behind the Jets' curtain.
And he's fine that everyone thinks he's lying about that too.
"That's fine. That's why I get paid," Gase said on Thursday. "I get paid to take all the bullets."
He'll be taking plenty, too, until he proves that his way is the right way for the new-look Jets. And make no mistake: No matter what anyone says about the firing of Maccagnan or the Jets' new world order, this is all Adam Gase's team now. In some ways, it's become his franchise.
The Jets' way is indistinguishable from Gase's way. He has gotten, and will get, what he wants.
Anything else is spin. And there sure was plenty of it during a somewhat contentious press conference before the Jets' first open practice of the spring. Gase has already denied two days ago that there was any "power struggle" between him and Maccagnan, but this was his first chance to add some context and detail to what actually happened.
Over and over he kept insisting this turmoil had nothing to do with him.
But of course it did. Even if Gase is telling the truth that there was "no personal rift" between he and Maccagnan, the inconvenient truth is that Maccagnan would still be here if he and his new coach could've found a way to get along. And even if it's true that Jets CEO Christopher Johnson never spoke to Gase about Maccagnan before the GM was fired, clearly Johnson had to know the truth about how Gase felt.
"The majority of the time, Mike and I, we were always in the same page," Gase said. "You have disagreements. There's always going to be disagreements in this profession as far as philosophy, what you want to do player personnel wise. But at the end of the day, he had the final decision. That was his right."
And now he doesn't, in large part because of those disagreements. Gase has the final decision now.
And he probably will continue to have it in the future, because the choice of the next GM will be all about Gase, too. He claimed the hire will be made by Johnson, but he also made it clear he'll have a hand in it and will lay out parameters for the kind of GM he wants. Maybe he doesn't want a "yes man" - "I don't really hang out with 'Yes men,'" Gase said, "so if it's somebody that I already know it's probably somebody that's not going to be a 'yes man'" - but he's also not looking for someone to constantly tell him "no."
Not that this is a bad thing, but there's just no way Johnson hires a GM that doesn't meet Gase's approval. It would defeat the purpose of this whole chaotic transition.
So in other words, Gase is in charge.
And he will be, too. Sure, the new GM will report directly to the owner, and Gase insisted, "Whoever the GM is will have final say on the roster." But come on, after all this, no new GM is going to come in and try to assert his dominance over this head coach. Gase did add that "if there's ever a disagreement, our job is to hash it out."
But does anyone really think those are arguments that Gase won't win?
Of course not. By siding with Gase over Maccagnan, Johnson gave his brand new coach with a 23-25 record and enormous amount of power. And even though Gase doesn't want to publicly claim it or accept responsibility for creating it, it's power he intends to use.
And he has. In the eight days since inheriting the "interim GM" title, Gase fired a scout, traded one of Maccagnan's first-round picks (linebacker Darron Lee) and cut a recent fifth-rounder (TE Jordan Leggett). None of that is an unusual amount of offseason activity, but it's clear that Gase was comfortable with his new title and wasn't willing to wait to see what the new GM might want to do.
That's because there's no reason to wait. What the new GM will want is whatever Gase wants. He can try to wash his fingerprints away from the firing of Maccagnan all he wants, but there's no way to wash them away from whatever happens next.
In effect, Johnson has handed his new coach the keys to this franchise. And whether he admits it or not, those are keys Gase clearly is happy to have in his hands.