Todd Bowles, Mike Maccagnan have their work cut out for them
And there you have it. A little more than two weeks after Woody Johnson cleaned house by firing Rex Ryan and John Idzik, the Jets owner has re-shaped the future of his franchise with two men who are widely respected among their peers but now face the daunting task of rebuilding a 4-12 team in the pressure cooker of the New York market.
Good luck to general manager Mike Maccagnan and head coach Todd Bowles.
This isn't going to be easy.
Johnson was at the biggest crossroads of his 15-year tenure as owner and came away with two promising candidates to try and lead his team out of a Ryan era that ended with four straight non-winning seasons and a clumsy two-year run with Idzik that cleaned up the salary cap but failed to adequately address glaring needs at quarterback and cornerback.
Maccagnan, who officially was named GM early Tuesday night, and Bowles, who accepted the offer to be head coach a few hours later, have the right credentials to assume their respective tasks. But this is a demanding and uncompromising market, and nothing short of a perennial playoff contender will do. A Super Bowl win for the first time in nearly half a century would sure help, too.
Johnson should feel good about his decisions, although the preference here would have been to go with Maccagnan and wait for Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, who might very well be a two-time Super Bowl champion in less than three weeks.
Johnson may have been concerned by the timing of Quinn's availability -- no one can hire him until the Seahawks' season is over -- and with five other openings around the league and Quinn's name attached to nearly all of them, the Jets may have missed out on him anyway.
But I can't quibble with Bowles, who did a tremendous job with the Cardinals' defense, especially this season. It carried the team to the playoffs after injuries knocked out Carson Palmer and then Drew Stanton.
And Bowles is a Jersey guy, growing up in Elizabeth, playing at Temple and then playing defensive back for Washington and San Francisco in the NFL before embarking on a coaching career that took him to places like Green Bay, Morehouse College, Grambling State, the Jets in 2000 under Al Groh and GM Bill Parcells, and then five more stops before getting his chance at running the show with the Jets.
He's a Parcells guy who believes in player discipline, and will run a much tighter ship than Ryan. Bowles has a much quieter personality than Ryan, but this is no longer about winning the news conference. This is about winning on Sundays.
Bowles' players in Arizona adored him because he prepared them, not because he was their friend. He found out from Parcells that you get more out of players when you demand the best out of them. Not that Ryan didn't get a lot out of his players; he did. But Bowles will go about things in a more straightforward way, and won't be afraid to lay down the hammer.
Maccagnan is another guy who has paid his dues with countless road trips to the far reaches of the college football world. He has been an NFL lifer, mostly spending his time in the background running the Texans' personnel operation. Houston had a dozen Pro Bowlers on his watch, and his body of work is considered more than respectable. Now he gets a shot to see if he can make the jump to elite executive. With a personnel background that exceeded the more salary-cap conscious Idzik, Maccagnan has the tools to make a difference.
It's a new beginning for Johnson, one that offers legitimate optimism about what comes next. But as Johnson knows better than anyone, there are no guarantees.