A few thoughts on the New York Jets' hiring of Mike Maccagnan, formerly the Houston Texans' director of college scouting, as their general manager:
1. Charley in charge: Do you trust Charley Casserly? That's what this is really all about. As soon as Casserly was hired by Jets owner Woody Johnson as a consultant, along with Ron Wolf, the speculation in league circles turned to Maccagnan. He got his first job in the NFL from Casserly, scouting for the Washington Redskins, and they forged a 20-year association that included a six-year run with the Texans. If you're a Jets fan, you'd better hope Bill Belichick's stinging words from five years ago ("Who's been more wrong than Charley Casserly?") don't prove accurate.
2. A football man: Well, at least they didn't hire a bean counter/paper pusher, a la John Idzik. Maccagnan is all football. He worked the past few years as a front office executive, coordinating the Texans' college scouting, but he also spent a lot of time on the road in a scouting capacity. This is what the Jets need -- a GM whose roots are in player evaluation. Have you seen their roster? It'll take a sharp personnel guy to fix their many problems. The last time they had a GM with a football background was Terry Bradway (2001-05). The Jets tried to sell Idzik as a "football man," but he was in over his head. One of the concerns with Maccagnan is that he has no experience with salary-cap management and contract negotiation.
3. Can he handle the big chair? Maccagnan wasn't on anybody's GM hot list. Eleven teams have replaced their GM over the past three offseasons, and the only team that interviewed Maccagnan was the Jets. One longtime personnel executive said of Maccagnan last week, "He'd last five minutes. They'll be flying 'Bring Back Idzik' signs." The criticism could stem from his quiet demeanor. He's not a self-promoter and he doesn't command a room. He's a grinder, a guy who enjoys the scouting. But there's more to the job than that. He must galvanize an organization that was split by a front office/coaching disconnect. It'll take an aggressive and innovative approach to repair a team that has gone four straight years without a winning record.
4. And the head coach is ... : Turns out the Jets are doing it the old-school way, hiring the GM before the coach, but the lines are blurry. This won't be a Maccagnan call, it'll be an arranged marriage, with Johnson, Casserly and Wolf serving as the matchmakers. Maccagnan will have input, but has no background with the favorites for the job, Dan Quinn and Todd Bowles, defensive coordinators for the Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals, respectively. On the surface, this seems like a repeat of 2013, when Idzik and Rex Ryan were forced together. There, too, are questions about the power structure. The setup likely will have Maccagnan and the coach reporting directly to Johnson, not the traditional GM-over-coach arrangement. It can work if you have the right people.
5. Spotty drafts: There's no way of knowing Maccagnan's precise input into the Houston drafts, but a good way to gauge the performance of a scouting department is to look at the middle and late rounds. In three drafts with him in charge of college scouting, the Texans haven't found any impact players after the second round. In fact, the past five drafts have produced only one Pro Bowl player -- the great J.J. Watt. He was drafted in 2011, the year before Macccagnan became the scouting director.
6. Houston, we've got a problem: Maccagnan inherits an unstable quarterback situation, one that might require a major investment -- a high draft pick on Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota. This is foreign territory for Maccagnan, who comes from a franchise that hasn't used a high pick on a quarterback since David Carr (No. 1 overall in 2002). Carr was a disappointment, so the Texans traded for Matt Schaub, who gave them seven years. The top item on Maccagnan's agenda is evaluating Geno Smith and deciding whether they should pull the trigger on Mariota, if he declares, or the polarizing Winston -- if one lasts to the sixth pick.