Jets' Maccagnan doesn't view this season as playoffs or bust
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) Mike Maccagnan understands the expectations of New York Jets fans.
After a big offseason of roster moves that followed a fourth straight year out of the postseason, hopes were high for the new general manager heading into a season of promise.
Playoffs or bust? Well, not quite.
''I don't really view it as trying to set a benchmark, like we have to be here, we have to be (somewhere) at some point in time,'' Maccagnan said Wednesday, adding that the team entered the season focused on competing. ''But I wouldn't necessarily say that the playoffs are not our benchmark.''
The Jets got off to a 4-1 start and were among the NFL's early season surprises. But they have lost three of their last four.
With some major trades - acquiring Brandon Marshall and Ryan Fitzpatrick - and free-agent signings - Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, Buster Skrine and Marcus Gilchrist - some fans and media expected a major turnaround from last year's 4-12 season under coach Rex Ryan and GM John Idzik.
That still might happen. After all, the Jets have already surpassed last season's win total. But in a muddled AFC, other than the undefeated New England Patriots, there could be an opening for the Jets to end their postseason drought.
''Overall, we're happy with the progress we've made,'' Maccagnan said while meeting with reporters for the first time since training camp. ''I think the one thing we tried to do going into this season was make ourselves more competitive at every position, and I think that's sort of held true to a degree. Obviously, we're happy about the five wins we have. We came up short in four of those (other) games. So, for us, it's a work in progress.''
Coach Todd Bowles insisted his goal for the Jets remains the same as it was when he was hired in January: the playoffs and the Super Bowl. He was then asked if this season would be a failure without a trip to the postseason.
''For me, yes,'' Bowles said. ''We want to get to the playoffs every year. We don't accept not going.''
Maccagnan would like to be a playoff contender right now, but he's also got an eye on the future - like most NFL general managers. He's sticking to his long-term plans and hoping for short-term success in the meantime.
Marshall likes the vibe around the team despite its recent struggles and thinks the Jets are in a good spot.
''It feels like there's the start of a crescendo going on in the locker room and on the field, and that's a good feeling to have,'' Marshall said.
Here are some other things to know about Maccagnan's nearly 28-minute ''state of the team'' midseason report:
BOWLED OVER BY BOWLES: Maccagnan and Bowles have seemed to complement each other from Day 1, with their low-key personalities making for a good working relationship.
So far, so good on the Jets' coach-GM tag-team.
''Just being around Todd, working with Todd and observing Todd, I think Todd has done a very good job as a head coach,'' Maccagnan said. ''I really enjoy working with Todd. I watch him with the players and just his persona and demeanor ... it's really what we're trying to do as an organization.''
FITZ FITS IN: Maccagnan acknowledged that he has been pleased with Fitzpatrick's performance at quarterback after he stepped in for Geno Smith, whose jaw was broken by a punch from then-teammate Ikemefuna Enemkpali in training camp. Fitzpatrick has thrown for 1,983 yards and 15 touchdowns with nine interceptions and expects to play Sunday despite having surgery to repair a torn ligament in the thumb on his non-throwing hand.
''At the midseason point, we're very happy with what Ryan has done so far and what he's brought to this organization and the team,'' Maccagnan said. ''I think he has a lot of good football left in him. We'll see how this unfolds as the season goes on, but to this point in time, he's done a good job.''
GENO'S FUTURE: Maccagnan was non-committal about whether Smith is in the Jets' long-term plans. Smith remains under contract through next season, and the injury has prevented him from proving whether he could still be this team's future starting QB.
''Geno has dealt with some adversity with the incident this summer,'' Maccagnan said. ''I thought he's handled it very well. He's actually done a good job in his practice and his approach. ... We're just going to see how this thing progresses.''
He later added: ''The jury is still out, but not in a bad way.''
MO'S CONTRACT: Defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson is looking for a new deal, and that remains a topic of discussion. But Maccagnan said the two sides won't talk about a contract until after the season. Wilkerson is having a solid season, leading the Jets with seven sacks while also likely driving up his price tag. He might be a candidate to be designated with the franchise tag.
''Mo has done a very good job,'' Maccagnan said, sidestepping the contract issue, ''and we're very happy with what he's done so far.''
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