2018 was never about 2018 for the Jets. 2018 was always about 2019.
And here we are.
And Jan. 12 will mark the 50-year anniversary of the Jets’ one and only Super Bowl.
Yet again, the Jets need the right head coach.
Yet again, the Jets need better players.
The moment of truth has arrived for Mike Maccagnan and Christopher Johnson.
Can Maccagnan be trusted to get this right?
Can Johnson, who will have final say, be trusted to trust Maccagnan to get it right?
With the stakes Empire State Building High, this is a watershed moment in Jets history, and these next days and months demand Maccagnan and Johnson not make a Christian Hackenberg mistake on the sidelines or on the playing field.
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A shuddering reality for Jets fans: Maccagnan and Johnson are rookies in the world of head-coach search and hires.
Maccagnan: “I’ve sat in on interviews, I’ve actually done some phone calls and research and stuff like that, but for the most part, for me at least, this will be the first time going through this role right now in terms of my responsibilities.”
Johnson: “This is my first time in the big chair doing this.”
Maccagnan will have $100 million for free agents and the third-overall pick of the April 25 NFL draft.
For a GM who believes in building through the draft, he cannot afford another Hackenberg, another Devin Smith, another Lorenzo Mauldin, another ArDarius Stewart.
“There’s risk in every draft pick you make,” Maccagnan said. “But I’m not gonna sit here and sort of grade myself. … I’m kind of excited about this situation coming up here.”
Maccagnan kept his GM job largely because he landed Sam Darnold.
“It’s not all about Sam. I think Mike is a good talent evaluator period,” Johnson said.
That’s his story, and he’s sticking to it.
“I’m a believer in Mike,” Johnson said.
Long-suffering Jets fans will be praying this does not turn into another “Dumb and Dumber” production.
“We’ve developed what I think is a good plan,” Johnson said. “It’s a plan we’re in sync on. And it really came together with Sam. And now we’re gonna be able to build around Sam.”
If a Jim Harbaugh or a Mike McCarthy craves total control, the Jets are the wrong franchise. A head coach with experience is a plus but not a necessity. College coaches may apply. A quarterback whisperer would be appealing, you’d better believe it.
“Somebody who’s developed a young quarterback would be a plus, but that’s not the whole story,” Johnson said. “This is about finding someone who can develop a young team.”
The Cubs Curse lasted 108 years. The Red Sox Curse lasted 86 years.
Can Maccagnan somehow transform into the football version of Theo Epstein?
“A lot of people can live happy now, a lot of people can be happy now,” Epstein said after the Red Sox broke The Curse of the Bambino.
“All the way back to 1918 and beyond, people have dedicated their whole lives to this moment. I can’t begin to explain how unbelievable a feeling this is.”
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And this was Epstein after the Cubs broke The Curse of the Billy Goat:
“The effect on so many people and generations, bringing families together … I’m thinking of people who didn’t make it. I’m thinking of Ernie [Banks], thinking of Ronnie [Santo], thinking of Billy Williams, who will be celebrating with us, the ’69 team, the ’84 team, the 2003 team — all these teams that were great and could have gotten it done, but just didn’t have the bounces on their side. Now we got it done, and everyone’s going to sleep happy tonight.”
The Rangers’ curse lasted 54 years. Can Maccagnan somehow identify a football Mike Kernan to help Darnold be the Jets’ Mark Messier? This was Messier after the Curse of 19-40 was broken:
“They talk about ghosts and dragons. I said to Mike, ‘You can’t be afraid to slay the dragon.’ We’re going to celebrate this like we’ve never celebrated anything in our lives.”
The Jets are right about this much: “I think this is a good landing spot,” Johnson said. “So I think that we have a competitive advantage there.”
No better place to win than New York, remember. The Jets have begun casting a wide net and should add Dan Campbell to their hot list.
“If you make it here,” Johnson said, “you’re a freaking legend.”
Maccagnan and Johnson will be freaking legends if only they can find that freaking legend.