On this day in 2019, Joe Douglas was hired to become the New York Jets general manager. There have been some critical moves made by Douglas. Let’s take a look at the Jets before Joe Douglas and how they got where they are now.
New York Jets: A Year Under Joe Douglas
Previous Regime: GM Mike Maccagnan & HC Todd Bowles
After a blowout loss to the New England Patriots in Week 17 of the 2018 NFL Regular Season, the New York Jets sacked head coach Todd Bowles after four seasons with the team. Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan had an important task at hand: he had to pick the next head coach.
The thought process among many in the Jets front office was to hire an offensive head coach to groom quarterback Sam Darnold. Popular names included Mike McCarthy, Kliff Kingsbury, Matt Rhule, and Matt LaFleur. The Jets hired former Miami Dolphins head coach Adam Gase. Gase had a so-so tenure in Miami, making the playoffs in his first season at 10-6. In the next 2 seasons, he would disappoint, not going better than 7-9.
Free agency would hit in mid-March. Hot free agents on the market included running back Le’Veon Bell, linebacker C.J. Mosley, edge DeMarcus Lawrence, amongst other great players. Well, the Jets hit the jackpot in free agency with the signings of Mosley, Bell, receiver Jamison Crowder, and corner Brian Poole. Two of the four players were signed to huge contracts; Le’Veon Bell (4 years/$52 million), C.J. Mosley (5 years/$85 million).
Initially, it sounds like a splash. There were some cons to this monster splash. Pro-Bowl kicker Jason Myers signed with the Seattle Seahawks in free agency. Pro-Bowl kick returner Andre Roberts left for the division-rival Buffalo Bills. No pass rusher was signed leaving another hole waiting to be filled. There was still a hole at the center position.
Entering the draft, the Jets had holes at cornerback, edge rusher, offensive line, and center. Blessuan Austin, Jachai Polite, Chuma Edoga, and Quinnen Williams would be prominent and highly touted picks. However, the Jets still had needs that weren’t filled.
After the draft, conflict began to stir in the New York Jets’ front office. There were reports coming out of conflict between head coach Adam Gase and general manager Mike Maccagnan. Reports began to contradict each other. Then, the Jets would fire Mike Maccagnan on May 15.
One of the disagreements that came into play between Gase and Maccagnan was the signing of running back Le’Veon Bell. Adam Gase never wanted Bell because he is not a fit in the West Coast offense. Plus, Bell is getting $13 million a year.
Adam Gase would temporarily take over as the Jets general manager. He would trade outside linebacker Darron Lee to the Kansas City Chiefs for a 2020 6th round-pick. The Jets would then begin their GM search. Eagles VP of Player Personnel Joe Douglas became a prominent name. His prior record has been nothing short of successful, winning 3 super bowl rings with the Baltimore Ravens and Philadelphia Eagles. On June 7, the Jets would hire Douglas as GM.
New Regime: Joe Douglas & Adam Gase
Both Douglas and Gase were familiar with each other while they were both in the Chicago Bears organization in 2015. Joe Douglas was previously groomed by well-known executive Ozzie Newsome. One of Newsome’s traits was building for the future and the draft. Douglas would apply that through 2019 and 2020. Here are some moves he made in 2019:
Center Ryan Kalil
The first major move Joe Douglas made was pulling center Ryan Kalil out of retirement on August 1. Kalil previously spent 12 years with the Carolina Panthers. Kalil was highly regarded throughout the league, making the Pro Bowl five times and making the first All-Pro team twice. It seemed like a good move but a questionable one. Ryan Kalil was 34 at the time of the signing and wasn’t gonna be ready for the preseason. Well, he didn’t play at all in the preseason.
Despite this, he was presumed to be the New York Jets’ starting center come week 1 vs the Buffalo Bills. Kalil ultimately faltered as a short-time answer at center. He would be placed on IR before Week 11.
After a week one preseason loss versus the New York Giants, kicker Chandler Catanzaro retired after a horrific performance. Joe Douglas would then sign kicker Taylor Bertolet, who was with the Jets in the 2018 preseason competing with Jason Myers. Bertolet would last until the end of preseason, but wouldn’t survive cut day.
Then, Joe Douglas would claim kicker Kaare Vedvik from the Minnesota Vikings before week 1. Vedvik failed his duty by missing an extra point and missing a 45-yard field goal, costing the Jets a win. Sam Ficken would be signed the next day. As of now, he is still on the roster and will compete with former Cowboys kicker Brett Maher.
Quarterback Luke Falk
After Week 1, it was revealed that Sam Darnold went down with mononucleosis. Trevor Siemian would take the reins. The New York Jets then signed quarterback Luke Falk off of the practice squad. In Week 2’s Monday Night Football Game against the Cleveland Browns, Siemian barely lasted after taking a brutal hit from Browns edge rusher Myles Garrett.
Falk would throw for 198 yards in a brutal loss to the Browns. Over the next two games, he’d throw for 3 interceptions and no touchdowns against the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles. Falk’s accuracy and lack of pocket awareness were prone to turnovers. Luke Falk would be released after Sam Darnold was cleared.
Reciever Demaryius Thomas
The New York Jets traded for veteran receiver Demaryius Thomas on September 10 after an injury to Quincy Enunwa. Thomas would become one of Sam Darnold’s most reliable weapons. He was often used as a safety blanket for the young quarterback. Thomas recorded 36 receptions for 433 yards and one touchdown.
Tight End Ryan Griffin
The New York Jets would sign veteran tight end Ryan Griffin after the news broke of Chris Herndon‘s four-game suspension. Griffin would serve as a reliable weapon and extra safety blanket for Sam Darnold. In 13 games, Griffin would record 34 receptions for 320 yards and 5 touchdowns. Sure, it isn’t top-tier tight end numbers. But Sam Darnold and Adam Gase both know Griffin is someone to be included with the offense this upcoming year. He was given a 3-year extension on November 24.
2020 Free Agency with Joe Douglas
Free agency loomed in March again as big things were expected for Gang Green. Popular offensive lineman like Jack Conklin and Joe Thuney were linked to the New York Jets before free agency. Mike Maccagnan always had a habit of spending huge amounts of money in free agency and not signing players for the foreseeable future. The Jets had needs at cornerback, edge rusher, wide receiver, punter, and offensive line. Would Joe Douglas take the Mike Maccagnan route in free agency?
No, Douglas didn’t spend big money in free agency. He didn’t really sign popular names which was met by dismay with fans. Joe Douglas believes in building through the draft and building his roster for the future. Some new signings included:
Center/guard Connor McGovern (3 years, $27 million)
Tackle George Fant (3 years, $27.3 million)
Guard Greg Van Roten (3 years/$10.3 million)
Linebacker Patrick Onwuasor (1 year, $2 million)
Corner Pierre Desir (1 year, $3.7 million)
Joe Douglas’s free agency route included a lot of one-year deals with some re-signings of players like Jordan Jenkins, Brian Poole, and Neville Hewitt. Douglas’s free agency financial philosophy saw a lot of money-smart deals on his end. The new players aren’t guaranteed a lot of money. Not to mention if a player underwhelms, they are easier to cut without any penalties.
2020 Jets Draft
In April, this year’s draft was an important one with Joe Douglas at the helm. First, the Jets would select Louisville tackle Mekhi Becton 11th overall. Becton has great size for his position and was the offensive lineman with the most upside in the draft. The second pick gets interesting. The Jets had the 48th pick with most seeing them selecting a wide receiver. When it came to pick 48, the Jets traded that selection away for the 59th and 101st picks. Most people were eyeing Baylor WR Denzel Mims at 48 with wideouts Michael Pittman Jr., Tee Higgins, and Laviska Shenault, Jr. off of the draft board. What happens? Mims falls and the Jets select him at 59.
Coming in the third round were three selections for the Jets. At 68, they selected safety Ashtyn Davis who is a speed demon and can play anywhere on defense. He also can play as a kick returner or punt returner on special teams.
At 79, the Jets selected Florida defensive end Jabari Zuniga to fill a need at pass rusher.
The Jets would then trade their 101st overall pick to the New England Patriots for 125th and 129th overall picks. With three picks in the 4th round, the Jets selected Florida running back Lamical Perine, FIU quarterback James Morgan, and Charlotte tackle Cameron Clark. What made these picks special was they were all high-character guys and were captains on their respective college teams.
The Jets would get lucky in the fifth round and have Virginia corner Bryce Hall in their lap. Another captain and another great press coverage corner, a sure fit in Gregg Williams‘ defense. In the 6th round, the Jets would select Texas A&M punter Braden Mann. He was another team captain.
Off-Season Overview and Final Remarks
You can’t completely rebuild a roster in one year, but Joe Douglas has done a marvelous job. Joe Douglas has rebuilt and has bolstered depth to the offensive line, unlike his predecessor. Joe Douglas has improved the depth at the corner position by trading for Quincy Wilson, re-signing corner Arthur Maulet, and signing highly touted UDFA Nebraska corner Lamar Jackson. He has provided excellent depth at the middle linebacker position by signing Patrick Onwuasor and re-signing reliable backups in Neville Hewitt and James Burgess. Douglas has also cut mediocre players from the Maccagnan regime like corners Trumaine Johnson ($11 million saved in cap) and Darryl Roberts ($6 million saved in cap).
With the number of one-year contracts that were given to players this offseason, the Jets are going to see who will be in green for the future. Through the draft and free agency, Joe Douglas has proven that he has an eye for talent. The future looks bright for Gang Green.
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