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.
|Player||2021 status||2019 Snaps|
|Quinnen Williams*||Good starter||512|
|Leonard Williams||Good starter||374|
|Marcus Maye*||Above average starter||1093|
|Jamal Adams||Above average starter||961|
|Folorunso Fatukasi*||Above average starter||391|
|Robby Anderson||Below average starter||927|
|Sam Darnold||Below average starter||841|
|Brandon Shell||Below average starter||807|
|Kelvin Beachum||Below average starter||806|
|Jamison Crowder*||Below average starter||802|
|Ryan Griffin*||Below average starter||662|
|Alex Lewis||Not on team||765|
|Brian Poole||Not on team||753|
|Jonotthan Harrison||Not on team||680|
|James Burgess||Not on team||663|
|Brian Winters||Not on team||526|
|Trumaine Johnson||Not on team||315|
|Kelechi Osemele||Not on team||185|
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.