Home | Articles | Column | Why Joe Douglas deserves NY Jets job security after offseason

Why Joe Douglas deserves NY Jets job security after offseason

Joe Douglas
Joe Douglas

Joe Douglas earned himself some security after a solid offseason for the New York Jets

At this point, readers know that I am generally overly critical of New York Jets general manager Joe Douglas. In particular, I chewed him out throughout the 2023 season for failing to build an offensive line around Aaron Rodgers. I felt that all previous good he did was obscured by that fatal flaw, which, in my opinion, was a firable offense.

Woody Johnson disagreed, giving Douglas a mulligan due to Rodgers’ injury. In many ways, Rodgers’ injury was a gift to Douglas. It covered over what likely would have been a disaster given the state of the Jets’ offensive line. The injuries were a pale excuse when considering Duane Brown’s and Mekhi Becton’s injury statuses.

Still, after Douglas’ moves this offseason, my opinion of his job security has changed. I don’t think any realistic Jets fan could have foreseen as good of an offseason as Douglas has had given his limited cap and draft resources. It’s even more impressive when you consider how much dead cap the Jets are dealing with — $52 million, or 20% of the cap.

While you can argue that the dead cap is Douglas’ fault, the fact remains that he’s built a strong roster despite those previous mistakes. ESPN’s Mike Clay recently ranked the Jets’ roster the second-best in all of football. While that is likely an overly generous ranking, many around the NFL are sleeping on the fact that the Jets quietly filled their primary needs in the offseason.

I try to separate process from results. In 2023, I placed so much of the blame on Douglas because I felt his process was faulty. In 2024, though, I am impressed with his process, which inclines me toward giving him job security even if the plan goes awry. I think the pressure should now be on Robert Saleh and Nathaniel Hackett, but Douglas’ seat should be secure.

Quarterback

Obviously, Rodgers’ Achilles injury puts him at risk for a steep decline in performance and a repeat injury. Still, at age 40, Rodgers is mostly a pocket passer anyway, meaning that the effects on his mobility are not as severe as they would be in a younger quarterback. There has been no sign of decline in Rodgers’ arm.

Meanwhile, the Jets fortified their backup quarterback position with Tyrod Taylor. In my opinion, Taylor was the best option on the market for the Jets. Jacoby Brissett wanted an opportunity to start, and I listed Taylor as the next-best target. His ability to lead a competent offense with the Giants’ broken offensive infrastructure and putrid offensive line provides confidence that he raises the floor of the Jets’ roster even if other injuries hit. The concern is age and injuries, but backup quarterbacks usually come with risks.

Behind a Giants line that gave up a league-high 85 sacks, Taylor averaged 7.5 yards per attempt (T-9th/35), posted a minuscule 1.2% turnover-worthy play rate (1st), and a 76.7% adjusted completion percentage (14th). He kept the ball out of harm’s way while moving the ball downfield more than respectably.

Furthermore, the selection of Jordan Travis provides another option unlikely to be worse than what the Jets put on the field in 2023.

Running back

You can argue that Douglas went with overkill by drafting Braelon Allen and Isaiah Davis. Still, he solved the No. 2 running back issue. Allen has shown an ability to pass protect and catch the ball out of the backfield, two skills that the Jets were lacking. Furthermore, both backs have the ground-and-pound power that fits with the smashmouth style the Jets want to play.

Wide receiver

While the Jets’ receiver room could stand to add another veteran (and I think they will), acquiring a true No. 2 in Mike Williams and a promising, playmaking No. 3 in Malachi Corley is a big feather in Douglas’ cap. He pushed Allen Lazard down to the No. 4 spot in the room, right where Lazard belongs.

Tight end

Douglas could stand to add a third tight end to the room, but Tyler Conklin is a solid No. 1. Jeremy Ruckert has not yet shown he can be a No. 2, but the team can stand to have an unknown at one of the less important positions in football. The Jets like Kenny Yeboah as their No. 3, although he should probably be pushed down one slot. Zack Kuntz’s freakish athleticism gives him a better shot of making the roster in 2024 simply because the Jets like to carry four tight ends.

Offensive line

I still think the Jets will add David Bakhtiari on an incentive-laden deal with a low cap hit. Even if they don’t, acquiring Morgan Moses for a pittance and Tyron Smith for $10 million was a coup for Douglas. Adding Bakhtiari would be more insurance to keep Carter Warren on the bench where he belongs, but the Olu Fashanu selection at No. 11 is enough security for a reasonable team. Furthermore, Alijah Vera-Tucker is always an insurance policy in the event of disaster.

On the interior, the Jets will almost certainly add another lineman (I think Connor McGovern just because of familiarity). Still, bringing in John Simpson, who is at worst a slightly below-average guard with plenty of upside, was a savvy move at a bargain cost compared to the highly inflated guard market. Joe Tippmann looks like an excellent draft selection and is poised to improve in Year 2. Wes Schweitzer is an average backup.

Of course, Jets fans (and Douglas) are scarred from back-to-back seasons of cascading offensive line injuries. Still, unlike in 2023, Douglas fortified the line enough that if injuries occur, the Jets’ line can still be competent. If injuries like in 2022-23 happen, at this point, Douglas is not to blame despite the risks of Smith, Vera-Tucker, and Moses. There is only so much a team can do to insure against injury, especially in one offseason.

The one gripe I have with Douglas is drafting a second running back rather than an interior offensive lineman. There were several strong candidates to be good backups and eventual starters. I consider that a quibble in the grand scheme of the offseason, though.

Defensive line

The John Franklin-Myers trade stings, as does the loss of Quinton Jefferson. Still, I thought the Jets’ pass rush would suffer at the beginning of 2023 when Jermaine Johnson started taking a 66% snap count — and it turned out just fine. I also thought losing Sheldon Rankins would affect the Jets’ pass rush, but it didn’t. Therefore, even though I don’t love the Javon Kinlaw pickup, I’m willing to give Douglas and Saleh the benefit of the doubt that they’ll make it work.

Furthermore, Will McDonald now has a chance to justify Douglas’ selection of him at No. 15 overall. I’ve been consistent with my opinion about McDonald: intriguing player with potential, bad pick in an all-in year. I thought the pick looked even worse when the Jets traded for Haason Reddick. It seemed to indicate that McDonald would be relegated to a small role once more in 2024.

Still, with Franklin-Myers’ trade, McDonald now steps into his intended role — the Bryce Huff role. It’s unlikely he’ll fill Huff’s shoes, but he showed enough potential as a rookie to be a disruptive force. If McDonald comes close to his potential, that will retroactively justify his selection, as he will be a key contributor in an all-in year.

You can argue that the Jets would be better off with Franklin-Myers on the edge than Reddick. The Jets don’t think so, and given their track record, I’m inclined to trust them. I still think it would behoove them to add another veteran to the room.

The Jets’ run defense is suspect now without Franklin-Myers and with Leki Fotu a downgrade from Al Woods. Still, sacrificing run defense for pass rush improved the Jets’ overall defensive DVOA from 2022 to 2023 (-9.5% to -14.2%). Therefore, as much as it may frustrate fans at times, the results have ultimately indicated that pass defense is the driver of the Jets’ overall defensive success.

Linebackers

Keeping the status quo here makes sense. Although I was concerned about Jamien Sherwood’s pass defense (mainly due to consistent statistical deficiencies), Joe Blewett overruled me, saying that Sherwood did a good job in both phases on his limited snaps. Perhaps he will step into a larger role in 2024 if the Jets return to more base defense; if not, he is at least a capable backup should the worst happen to C.J. Mosley or Quincy Williams.

Speaking of Mosley, Douglas did an excellent job maneuvering his contract situation. He stood pat in 2023 to allow renegotiation this offseason, resulting in a two-year, $17.25 million deal that finally pays him what he’s worth rather than the exorbitant contract Mike Maccagnan gave him.

Zaire Barnes remains an intriguing project at the position. Although he spent much of the 2024 season on injured reserve, I can see the Jets starting to develop him this season.

Cornerbacks

The Jets’ top four corners remain the same. Isaiah Oliver is a quality replacement for Bryce Hall. Qwan’tez Stiggers is an intriguing athletic add; I think the Jets see him as a Brandin Echols replacement in 2025. As much as the Jets rely on their cornerbacks, they maintain decent depth at the position. Oliver’s inside-outside versatility adds a dimension that the Jets didn’t have with Hall, and he also brings special teams value.

Safeties

If the Jets’ 2023 track record holds, I think they’ll enter 2024 with their safety room as is. Chuck Clark is an upgrade over Jordan Whitehead even coming off a torn ACL given his smarts and ability not to mess up (unlike Whitehead’s 18.2% missed tackle rate and 7 touchdowns allowed). Tony Adams is a below-average starter, and it might behoove the Jets to bring in some competition for him or at least add a third safety to upgrade over Ashtyn Davis. Still, the Jets’ defense has masked poor safety play in back-to-back seasons, which means that once again, I’ll give Saleh and Douglas the benefit of the doubt.

Special teams

Bringing back Greg Zuerlein and Thomas Morstead was a no-brainer. Losing Justin Hardee stings given the new kickoff rules, but Irvin Charles is a very solid gunner. Returning Ashtyn Davis and adding Isaiah Oliver should help. Malachi Corley has the makings of an excellent punt returner. The Jets could use an upgrade from Xavier Gipson’s kickoff returning, but perhaps the new rules will help him set up his blocks better.

Want More Jet X?

Subscribe to become a Jet X Member to unlock every piece of Jets X-Factor content (film breakdowns, analytics, Sabo with the Jets, etc.), get audio versions of each article, receive the ability to comment within our community, and experience an ad-free platform experience.

Download the free Jet X Mobile App to get customizable notifications directly to your iOS (App Store) or Android (Google Play) device.

Sign up for Jet X Daily, our daily newsletter that's delivered to your inbox every morning at 8:00 a.m. ET.

Add Jets X-Factor to your Google News feed and/or find us on Apple News to stay updated with the New York Jets.

Follow us on X (Formerly Twitter) @jetsxfactor for all the latest New York Jets news, Facebook for even more, Instagram for some of the top NY Jets images, and YouTube for original Jets X-Factor videos.

Related Articles

About the Author

More From Author

Comments

5 2 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
2 Comments
Newest
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Psi
Psi
23 days ago

Process over production is the adage at this point. If production does not come, the HC should take the hit. JD imo has more than proven that he knows how to do the job, and just as importantly has learned from his mistakes. All GMs (like all people) make mistakes. The key is not repeating them. The key is still getting the QB issue right for the long haul. Seems like he has a coherent plan there as well. Keep it going.

Noam
Noam
23 days ago

I am critical of Douglas for a number of moves. The Lazard and Cook signings were throwing money away. Spending so much future cap money. Not trading Zach last off season was bad. I hated the Rodgers trade last year and still do today. I tend to agree on the OL but disagree on the back-up QB last year. Last year Douglas went all in on Rodgers staying healthy, Rodgers making the OL better and Rodgers making the WRs better. If Rodgers went down who cares who the back-up is as the season is over.

Here is where I will give Douglas credit. He took over arguably the worst roster in the league and has transformed it into arguably the best roster on the league. On defense there are 8 pro bowl caliber players in JJ, Q, Reddick, Quincy, Mosley, MC2, Sauce and Reed. On offense there are 5 pro bowl caliber players in Rodgers, Breece, Tyrone, AVR and Wilson. This team is loaded with talent. Arguably as much talent as the 2008 team which ended up with 12 players in the pro bowl or alternates. Douglas deserves a ton of credit, an extension and raise.

2
0
REPLY TO THIS ARTICLE HERE:x
()
x