FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Commenting for the first time on the team's front-office turmoil, New York Jets coach Adam Gase took issue Monday with the perception that he undermined Mike Maccagnan, who was fired last week after four seasons as the general manager.
"I disagree with that, as far as a power struggle," Gase said. "Because whoever is getting hired [as the new GM] is going to have the same role -- control of the roster. I will coach the football team. That's what I'm going to do. Nothing is changing in that structure."
Gase said he was "surprised" when CEO Christopher Johnson called to tell him of Maccagnan's ouster. Brian Heimerdinger, the vice president of player personnel and Maccagnan's right-hand man, also was fired.
"[Johnson] told me. That's what it was," Gase said. "He's the owner. In this business, s--- like that happens all the time. It happened to me last year [in Miami]. That's what it is. I work for him. We're aligned, as the head coach and the GM both report to the owner. That's the way it is."
The Gase-Maccagnan partnership lasted only four months. Reports of a rift surfaced before the draft. Both men denied there was friction between them, but sources said their relationship became strained because of disagreements over personnel decisions. Maccagnan was fired last Wednesday. Gase was given the title of interim GM, reinforcing the belief that he has increased power within the organization.
The Jets will hire a general manager to replace Maccagnan, and that search should intensify this week. The presumptive favorite is Philadelphia Eagles vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas, who has a relationship with Gase, but the Jets will interview multiple candidates.
When the Jets hire a GM, the power structure will remain unchanged, meaning both Gase and the general manager will report directly to Johnson. The new GM will have control of the 53-man roster. Gase had that authority during his three seasons as the Miami Dolphins' coach, but he has said on multiple occasions that he no longer covets that power.
There are conflicting opinions on what contributed to Maccagnan's demise.
Johnson insisted that Gase had no influence on the decision, but acknowledged the synergy between Gase and Maccagnan "was not everything I was hoping for." Johnson also said "the organization was lacking in certain ways." He came to that conclusion after a busy offseason in which he empowered Maccagnan to lead the coaching search, run the draft and spend an unprecedented amount of money in free agency.
Two sources painted a different picture, saying Gase orchestrated a power play to have Maccagnan removed.