FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Mike Maccagnan’s rebuild is in full swing, complete with a roster composed of inexperience, unknowns and unproven talent.
But the Jets’ general manager stressed Monday that the organization is in the same position as the other 31 NFL teams and that the roster overhaul hasn’t changed the club’s definition of success internally.
“I don’t think we’re different from any team in the NFL,” Maccagnan said before practice. “I think every team goes into training camp with the idea of trying to make the playoffs. We’re no different in that sense.”
The Jets set out to acquire and develop a young core they hope will be the bedrock of what they’re trying to build: consistent winning. That process would have started sooner had Maccagnan & Co. gutted the roster when they arrived in January 2015 and embraced a full-blown rebuild. But after Maccagnan inherited a surplus of salary-cap space, the Jets stressed the need for a “competitive rebuild.”
Now, three years into the tenure of Maccagnan and coach Todd Bowles, the Jets appear to be no further along in their master plan. But as the GM sees it, they’re right where they should be. He believes 2017 “is going to be an exciting season” based on what he saw from players in the offseason.
“We’re still focused on building this team to the vision we have for it long-term,” Maccagnan said. “When you look at what we did from Day 1 to now, it was sort of a natural progression of how we’re trying to build this thing. But our focus hasn’t really changed.”
The development of Christian Hackenberg also will take time. Maccagnan drafted the former Penn State quarterback in the second round last year, a particularly high pick for an erratic thrower whose inconsistent game video raised more questions than it answered. But the front office sees promise in Hackenberg.
“Christian has made good progress,” Maccagnan said of Hackenberg, who is competing with Josh McCown and third-year player Bryce Petty for the starting job. “Of course, it’s all in shorts and T-shirts this offseason. But he’s done some good things. We’re kind of excited about him, along with Bryce and actually Josh. I think all three of those guys did some good things this offseason. Now this is the next step in the process, getting the pads on, and we’ll see how he does out there.”
Although he denied feeling added pressure watching Hackenberg’s maturation, Maccagnan’s job security ultimately could rest on the quarterback’s growth.
When asked how critical the next month will be for Hackenberg, Maccagnan said, “It’ll be important for him, like it is for everybody on our team.”
Owner Woody Johnson has been patient. And for good reason, Maccagnan said.
“Todd, myself and Woody talk about this stuff quite a bit,” he said. “We’re all focused on the same goal. I think Woody has been very supportive of that.”
Maccagnan reiterated that he’s not concerned about the prevailing narrative that the Jets are tanking in 2017.
“You have to focus on what’s inside your building,” he said.