Adam Gase has barely been introduced to New York yet, beyond a couple of short press conferences and some mean-spirited memes. He hasn't had a chance to lose a game yet. The heat on his seat hasn't even been turned on.
But it will be very shortly, once the ashes settle from the firing of Jets GM Mike Maccagnan, because like it or not, fair or not, and true or not, it sure looks like Gase's fingerprints are all over this shocking move. Whether it was a power play or good, old-fashioned irreconcilable differences, Gase won and Maccagnan lost.
Which means this Jets mess is Gase's now.
The truth behind Jets CEO Christopher Johnson's decision to fire Maccagnan may not be clear yet, but there have been rumors and reports of a rift between Maccagnan and Gase for months -- as hard as that is to believe considering Gase was hired just four months and four days ago. One source connected to the Jets said Johnson had been pondering this move since long before the draft when he decided it was evident the two simply couldn't get along. He had apparently sensed friction almost from the start.
Maccagnan and Gase publicly dismissed such talk, but sources said they had numerous battles over personnel decisions - -specifically how Maccagnan spent the Jets' free agent money. One report suggested Gase wanted no part of Le'Veon Bell, though a team source said his issue had more to do with the amount the Jets spent on him. Gase had issues with the amount Maccagnan spent on several free agents, the source said. He also wanted the Jets to go harder after a free-agent center than Maccagnan did.
And to make the problem even worse, Gase had a direct line to Johnson in the Jets' bizarre, unworkable power structure where the coach and GM are on equal footing and report directly to ownership. Whether Gase used it to complain about Maccagnan, or whether Johnson just sensed the tension on his own, the world may never know for sure. But one thing that is clear is that if Gase was really on the same page as Maccagnan, if they had managed to get along, this move would never have been made.
So now Gase becomes the ultimate power broker in the Jets' organization. He even may get to handpick the next Jets GM. Multiple sources pegged Eagles VP of player personnel Joe Douglas as the likely successor to Maccagnan. He was also the director of college scouting for the Chicago Bears in 2015 when Gase was the Bears offensive coordinator.
"That's Gase's guy," one NFL source said.
Maccagnan, quite obviously, was never Gase's guy. In fact, though the organization put out a united front when Gase was hired, it was lost on no one that Maccagnan seemed to prefer someone else. Remember, Maccagnan was first in talks about the Jets job with Baylor coach Matt Rhule, according to multiple sources, before those talks broke down over disagreements about Rhule's staff. Former Packers coach Mike McCarthy was also a strong contender until the end.
Gase was a late-riser in the search. And while Maccagnan led the search, don't forget that it was Johnson who made the final call.
Whether that factored into the rift is hard to say. It seems odd that Gase would be hired if he wasn't on board with Maccagnan and his free agency plans -- which everyone knew included making a huge offer to Bell. It's almost impossible to believe that their relationship soured over personnel disagreements so quickly. It seems more likely that their relationship had never really clicked at all.
Whatever the root cause, Gase will surely be more comfortable with Maccagnan's successor. And that's not unusual, by the way. There are several organizations in the NFL who have bucked the traditional power structure in favor of a GM who knows and works well with a head coach. That happens more with a coach who's earned that kind of power, of course, not one on his second job who failed in his first stop.
But Gase got his power now, along with a team that Maccagnan seemingly rebuilt into a contender, so what happens next all falls on Gase's shoulders. There's no one else left to take any of the blame.
And maybe that's not his fault. Maybe he didn't push Maccagnan out the door. Maybe Johnson sensed an untenable situation all on his own and made an executive decision. But the perception will always be that Gase was the winner in a shockingly quick power struggle inside Jets headquarters. That's a burden he'll have to carry. It's also a big responsibility. The consensus seemed to be that Maccagnan had the Jets going in the right direction.
It'll be Gase's fault now -- and no one else's -- if they suddenly take a wrong turn.