Jets’ GM-coach structure maddening — but not uncommon
25th November 2020

When a team is as bad as the Jets are, and have been, every aspect of the team gets the microscope treatment.

The way it call plays, the placement of players on IR and the running back rotation have all sparked speculation and conspiracy theories lately. That is life when you are 0-10 and have not made the playoffs in a decade. If you’re winning, no one cares.

As the Jets move closer to 0-16 and making a change at head coach, another aspect of the organization, one that seems to annoy many fans, is going to be scrutinized as well. The way the Jets have their reporting structure set up has irritated some people since the team changed it in 2015.

The Jets are set up where the head coach and general manager both report to the owner whether that is Christopher Johnson or his brother Woody, if he takes over day-to-day duties when his time as ambassador to the United Kingdom ends in January. This is different than the traditional way most fans think of with the coach reporting to the GM and the GM then answering to ownership.

The Jets changed from that traditional setup to their current version after the 2014 season when John Idzik and Rex Ryan were at each other’s throats but Ryan did not feel comfortable going over his boss’ head directly to Woody Johnson to voice his concerns about Idzik. Johnson responded by making the coach and GM equals on the organizational flow chart and it has been that way from the Todd Bowles-Mike Maccagnan marriage through the current Adam Gase-Joe Douglas partnership.

For some reason, this really grates on some people. I have heard complaints about this setup for the past few years and some people even assign blame for the team’s struggles to the GM and coach being equals.

Here is what I say: It does not matter.

It does not matter if the GM and coach are equals or if the coach answers to the GM. It matters who those two people are. This is what the Jets must get right.

There is an idea that the Jets are alone in this organizational structure. But a check with other teams around the NFL shows that 16 teams operate like the Jets with the two power brokers in line. There are 11 teams with the more traditional setup of the coach working under the GM. There are five teams that currently do not have their GM spot filled.

The Jets could very well flip how they do things if they fire Gase after the season, as expected. They could give more power to Douglas, who would be the point man on any coaching search. Or they could keep it the way it is. No one around the Jets is to the point where this is being discussed while Gase is still on the job.

Whatever the Jets decide can work. The Chiefs have both coach Andy Reid and GM Brett Veach reporting to ownership and they just won a Super Bowl. The Saints have GM Mickey Loomis as coach Sean Payton’s boss and New Orleans is one of the best teams in football.

The truth is the reporting structure only draws attention when a team loses … like the Jets. The Jets need to hire a good coach and Douglas needs to find some good players. If the Jets do that, no one will care if the coach reports to the GM, the owner or Joe Namath.

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