Trumaine Johnson, NY Jets, 2019, Contract
Trumaine Johnson, New York Jets, Getty Images

Joe Douglas had to start his New York Jets rebuild from scratch

New York Jets general manager Joe Douglas has overseen two full seasons of football and little progress has been made under his watch from a win-loss standpoint. The Jets are 6-27 since Douglas executed his first full offseason as a GM in 2020.

For most general managers, such an abysmal two-year stretch would be completely unacceptable, likely leading to their firing.

But Douglas has a little bit more leeway for this one reason: he essentially had to build the roster from scratch.

In hindsight, the 2019 Jets roster gave Joe Douglas nothing to work with

Douglas was hired by the Jets in June 2019 after previous general manager Mike Maccagnan had already directed the franchise through free agency and the draft. New York went 7-9 in 2019 with a roster mostly comprised of players added by Maccagnan.

At the time, it seemed like the Jets were positioned to take a leap into playoff contention in 2020. They had just won seven games while going 6-2 to close the year and earning a winning record (7-6) in games started by second-year quarterback Sam Darnold.

Now that two years have passed and we have the benefit of hindsight, we know that the team inherited by Douglas was not remotely close to anything resembling a playoff contender. The last two years have revealed just how bad that roster truly was, regardless of the promise it may have had at the time.

Let’s catch up with the members of the 2019 New York Jets and see how they are doing today.

Of the 42 offensive and defensive players who logged more than 150 snaps for the Jets in 2019, here is a breakdown of where they all stood at the conclusion of the 2021 regular season:

  • Good starter: 2 (4.8%)
  • Above-average starter: 3 (7.1%)
  • Below-average starter: 6 (4.3%)
  • Backup: 21 (50.0%)
  • Not on an NFL roster: 7 (16.7%)
  • Retired: 3 (7.1%)

Half of the key players on the 2019 Jets are backups today (21). Nearly a quarter of them are not even on an NFL roster (10). Barely over a quarter are still starters (11).

Of the 11 players on that team who remained starters in 2021, six of them were subpar starters: Sam Darnold, Robby Anderson, Brandon Shell, Kelvin Beachum, Jamison Crowder, and Ryan Griffin.

Crowder’s production fell off this year after two good seasons in 2019 and 2020, but none of the other five players have ever been definitively above-average over a multi-year span.

Griffin was actually added by Douglas late in the 2019 offseason. Regardless, New York’s starting tight end was going to be Chris Herndon, who was considered a promising prospect at the time after a good 2018 rookie season but is now a backup for the Vikings.

New York had only five players on its 2019 roster who can be definitively classified as above-average starters in 2021: Quinnen Williams, Leonard Williams, Foley Fatukasi, Marcus Maye, and Jamal Adams.

Quinnen and Leonard can comfortably go in the “good” category while down years in 2021 from Fatukasi, Maye, and Adams land them in the “above-average” category for me. Either way, all five are solid NFL starters.

The Jets also had C.J. Mosley in 2019, though he didn’t qualify for our list as he only played in two games. So, that makes six above-average starters.

Let that sink in a moment. The Jets had six solid players on their entire football team, including none on offense.

That is one horrible roster.

Seen below is a list of the 42 players who played more than 150 offensive or defensive snaps for the Jets in 2019, alongside their 2021 designation and their snap count in 2019. Players marked with an asterisk remained with the Jets in 2021.

Player2021 status2019 Snaps
Quinnen Williams*Good starter512
Leonard WilliamsGood starter374
Marcus Maye*Above average starter1093
Jamal AdamsAbove average starter961
Folorunso Fatukasi*Above average starter391
Robby AndersonBelow average starter927
Sam DarnoldBelow average starter841
Brandon ShellBelow average starter807
Kelvin BeachumBelow average starter806
Jamison Crowder*Below average starter802
Ryan Griffin*Below average starter662
Le'Veon BellBackup782
Neville HewittBackup766
Darryl RobertsBackup717
Tarell BashamBackup594
Jordan JenkinsBackup573
Kyle Phillips*Backup550
Steve McLendonBackup467
Henry AndersonBackup449
Blake Cashman*Backup427
Chuma Edoga*Backup421
Nate HairstonBackup395
Blessuan AustinBackup389
Tom ComptonBackup364
Arthur MauletBackup349
Brandon CopelandBackup337
Vyncint Smith*Backup318
Daniel Brown*Backup297
Maurice CanadyBackup240
Nathan Shepherd*Backup232
Trevon Wesco*Backup214
Jordan WillisBackup162
Alex LewisNot on team765
Brian PooleNot on team753
Jonotthan HarrisonNot on team680
James BurgessNot on team663
Brian WintersNot on team526
Trumaine JohnsonNot on team315
Kelechi OsemeleNot on team185
Demaryius ThomasRetired459
Ryan KalilRetired343
Bilal PowellRetired164

While Douglas’ rebuild may be progressing slower than Jets fans hoped it would, it is important to remember the type of situation he walked into. Hindsight is 20-20, but we now know Douglas was given only six players who had the talent to be long-term building blocks – and all of them were defensive players.

Revitalizing a roster like that one is an endeavor that cannot happen overnight.

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Michael Nania is one of the best analytical New York Jets minds in the world, combining his statistical expertise with game film to add proper context to the data. Nania scrapes every corner, ensuring you know all there is to know about everyone from the QB to the long snapper. Nania's Numbers, Nania's QB Grades, and Nania's All-22 give fans a deeper and more well-rounded dive into the Jets than anyone else can offer. Email: michael.nania[at]jetsxfactor.com - Twitter: @Michael_Nania
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Jim G
Jim G
1 year ago

I think this is more of a Joe Douglas apologist piece and is worthless from an analytical standpoint. You are comparing players who played in 2019 to what they are today. Injuries and time take a toll in the NFL. Also, some of your categorizations of players are questionable: Robbie Anderson, a below average starter? Joe Douglas blamed himself for not re-signing Anderson at $10 million per year, so don’t tell me he was below average.

All your article proves is that a below average team (the 2019 Jets) had a lot of below average starters. I think we all knew that.

The real point is that Joe Douglas has had two years to improve the team and he has only 6 victories to show for it.

Jonathan Richter
Jonathan Richter
1 year ago

Good article. Now do the 2021 roster to show the progress Douglas has made.

Reprocity
Reprocity
1 year ago

Robby had a 1,000 yrd season with an average QB throwing to him and he’s still a top 3 deep threat. I wouldn’t call him below average, if anything he regressed to the Darnold!

Jets71
Jets71
1 year ago

This is a great article!!!!! It’s so true, and don’t forget that first draft he was working with Gase. I have been as critical of Douglas as any but everything changed last year. Please, A plea from a Jets’ fan to Jets’ fans. Don’t take the bait from the Jets’ Beat. They just finished year one of the rebuild. Yes, I know Douglas has been here longer than that but this is the first year of the new team structure and I’m sorry he was 50/50 with Gase, so that first draft can’t be totally pinned on Joe. He was doing what he is supposed to do, and work with his HC to get guys that fit his system. This is Joe’s show now, and it is only one year old.

This is something different now. They are about to add 9-12 rookies to a roster that was BY FAR the youngest roster in the league and somehow that means they MUST be a contender next season? I’m sorry, but past failures and pain from a decade of waste CANNOT play into next years expectations.

Please Jets’ fans don’t be part of this problem. Be patient, it’s year two, yes the team should improve this season but that may not show up in a playoff appearance, or even playoff contention. It’s year 3 that is the money year. They really have 2 more off-seasons to turn this team into a regular playoff contender. We are all exhausted being the bowels of the league but hang in there.

As a fan I looked in the mirror, back when I was calling Zach Wilson a head case and pronouncing: “I’m done with him” only to realize I’m part of the problem. It’s difficult I know, but we cannot obstruct the development of this team by shouting from the rooftops with unrealistic expectations. Honestly, adding more young players to a young roster isn’t the recipe for overnight success. You know what is? What the Genius did in NE the past year. They spent more money than any team last off-season. Sure, they got their quick fix and won some games only to realize the talent on the roster is aging. The Jets shouldn’t do that just because the past decade has been a wasteland. They don’t NEED to be playoff contenders this year. It sucks I know, but this is the first time in I don’t know how long everything is set up properly. New, structure with a “football guy” calling the shots. He hired a promising HC and OC for that matter. They have drafted their QB of the future, have plenty of draft picks and the cap is in their favor. Considering the number of glaring needs, it’s unrealistic to think they will fix them all this off-season. Let this marinate. Don’t take the “bait of the beat.”

DHB
DHB
1 year ago
Reply to  Jets71

I agree with all of that Jets71. The idea that JD’s seat might be heating up seems preposterous to me. I hope it’s just writers trying to manufacture a story. It feels like the Jets beat has a narrative they want to perpetuate which includes the team tearing it down every few years and starting again. I’m sure the rest of the division are only too happy for that to be the case.

I have the utmost confidence in the front office and coaching staff at this point and want to see it run its course.

Jets71
Jets71
1 year ago
Reply to  DHB

You couldn’t be more correct about the Jets’ beat and agenda. They prefer to recycle the same story lines, it’s become humorous for them and much easier than working. It’s the “same Ol’ Joke” every other article. If I see Cimini write again about “All My Quarterbacks” or as he wrote late week something like, mark my words this will be the off-season story line. Yes, of course because you write the stories. They have all written “how far” the team is from the division in one article then in the very next say “this should be a team competing for the playoffs next season.” Easily the worst beat in the league. Remember the “QB controversy” when Mike White played. White STUNK against the Bills. QB controversies only happen when one guy is playing well and the other is not. They are a joke. I believe they lost all sources so have nothing else to do. You can bet they all have the same stories every week.

Now they want us to start screaming playoffs or bust basically after the first year of a rebuild. Keep in mind these were the same people who told us, no convinced us to “Suck for Sam!” Oh, and they fanned the flames to “Tank for Tua!”