What’s most important for the New York Jets right now involves Joe Douglas’s eye for personnel decision-making in the NFL.
It’s true; Loggains called the New York Jets‘ offensive plays in the team’s latest disappointment—an 18-10 defeat at the hands of the Buffalo Bills. It’s also true a great percentage of Jets fandom applauded the move first reported by the New York Post’s Brian Costello.
The most important thing that’s true, however, is that it didn’t matter. As per usual, play-calling is a highly-overrated part of football. Scheme matters, of course, but coaching’s critical aspects rarely boil down to play-calling.
No magic man can fix this mess—not even a Walsh. Not in 2020 at least. What Walsh would need is time—the thing Joe Douglas has been after all along.
Douglas, a man groomed by the great Ozzie Newsome, is no dummy. He made sure of two things upon signing with the Jets. Firstly, he made sure Christopher Johnson gave him the final say over personnel. Secondly, he ensured that his deal lasted six years.
A decade of poor drafting has put these Jets in this current situation. Great drafting is what will get them out of it.
What’s most important from here on out this season surrounds Douglas’s actual ability to evaluate talent.
— Robby Sabo (@RobbySabo) October 27, 2020
When Douglas was given the chance to do the right thing in his first crack as the guy overseeing an NFL draft, he didn’t blink. The former offensive lineman selected Becton at No. 11 and probably didn’t think twice.
Forget howe well Becton is playing right now; this organization hadn’t selected a first-round offensive lineman since 2006—the draft of D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold. Douglas understands this game still operates from an inside-out perspective, and it’s something he mentioned on day one: “It starts with the quarterback and both lines,” a line never uttered by his predecessor.
Becton is arguably the Jets’ best player, already. Not only does it mark a tremendous pick by Douglas, but it also condemns a decade of drafting prior to 2020.
2020 draft class
Injuries have derailed a lot of the progress here, but these rookies have shown plenty of promise when they have been on the field.
Denzel Mims looked the part in his first professional game Sunday. Catching four balls for 42 yards, all in the first half, the kid passed the eye test. He looked like a legitimate No. 1 target in the making.
La’Mical Perine‘s 3.7 yards per carry this season on 33 rushes represents a modest output. Patience might be required to see how Douglas’s eye for running back talent develops.
Ashtyn Davis still has a long road to travel in the NFL, as his football IQ still isn’t there. James Morgan‘s non-presence is a good thing while Sam Darnold continues to be evaluated. Nobody yet knows about Cameron Clark, Bryce Hall and Jabari Zuniga also require more time.
Punter Braden Mann‘s 45.3 average ranks him 19th in the NFL. His seven inside-the-20 punts have him in the bottom third of the league. He’ll also need more time before anybody can judge his NFL talents.
Overall, Douglas’s first draft class is producing much better than most of the Jets’ last 10 or 11 draft classes through just seven games with much of the success coming from Becton.
The draftees are just one piece of the NFL draft puzzle. Bryce Huff is a kid whose skills are already translating into a legitimate edge-rushing roll in this league.
Huff is currently tied for second in the NFL in quarterback pressures by a rookie, and considering he hasn’t played nearly the number of snaps other rookies have, it’s an extraordinary stat.
Most pressures among rookie EDGE
— Michael Nania (@Michael_Nania) October 27, 2020
Against Buffalo, Huff also showcased something Jets fans haven’t seen since (seemingly) the 2004 Olympics: edge responsibility. Shutting down a Bills’ end-around attempt was a thing of defensive beauty.
GET 'EM, ROOK! @Bryce55H
— New York Jets (@nyjets) October 25, 2020
The other acquisitions
Remember, Douglas has executed a bunch of moves outside of the draft, and he started it early in his regime.
He first traded a seventh-round pick and Kenny Willekes for guard Alex Lewis, who’s been a professional guard on the left side of the line. Douglas also traded for Nate Hairston who didn’t quite work out (he’s in Baltimore now).
Douglas’s practice squad scavaging is also a noteworthy personnel move. Both Braxton Berrios (New England Patriots) and Vyncint Smith (Houston Texans) have played roles for the offense over the last two seasons. Tight end Ryan Griffin is also a Douglas acquisition (July 2019).
John Franklin-Myers also represents another waiver claim by Douglas (September 2019). Franklin-Myers and Huff are quietly turning into plus defensive lineman for Gregg Williams.
Free agency didn’t bring aggressiveness, but Douglas also didn’t miss tremendously. George Fant—a signing questioned by many—has been a solid right tackle this season.
There’s no question what Douglas’s biggest miss is so far. Robby Anderson currently ranks second in the NFL in passing yards, while Breshad Perriman can’t stay on the field. While people could argue that the latter has a higher upside, the fact that he cannot stay on the field is the greatest issue.
Ensuring Darnold had a reliable weapon heading into the 2020 season was crucial. Douglas failed that column on the general manager report card.
At 0-7, not much can be spun into gold at the moment. Sam Darnold is struggling mightily and the coaching just isn’t apparent—which is always a terrible sign for a football squad.
Thanks to this unenviable position coupled with the number of picks the Jets possess over the next two drafts, the most important question moving forward revolves around this general manager’s eye for talent.
Perhaps the idea that Mekhi Becton is already the team’s best player is a good sign. (It’s a good sign for Douglas and a bad sign for the franchise’s recent drafting history.) Maybe Bryce Huff and John Franklin-Myers showing signs help us understand this general manager knows what a legitimate player looks like.
Joe Douglas’s eye for personnel is the key topic in New York Jets’ land at this very moment. Does the man Baltimore Ravens’ employees used to call “The Turk” have what it takes to turn this thing around over the next couple of years?