NY Jets: Analyzing Joe Douglas’ first year as general manager

NY Jets (Photo by Al Pereira/Getty Images)
NY Jets (Photo by Al Pereira/Getty Images) /

NY Jets’ general manager Joe Douglas has completed his first full year with the organization.

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the day that the NY Jets officially hired Joe Douglas to be the team’s new general manager.

The decision to fire then-general manager Mike Maccagnan less than a month after the 2019 NFL Draft was a contentious one at the time and met with mixed opinions. But after one year with Douglas at the helm, it seems as though the Jets made the right choice.

That being said, the timing undoubtedly could have been better.

Nonetheless, Douglas has taken a pretty abysmal Jets team and begun to mold the roster to his own liking. There have been bumps along the way, but the majority of what Douglas has done has seemingly been for the best.

Let’s take a look at the different aspects of Douglas’ first year with the Jets.

Roster management

Is the Jets’ roster in a better position now than it was a year ago? That’s a question that isn’t as easy to answer as it first seems.

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On one hand, Douglas has made some impressive additions to the offensive line that look like improvements on paper, but are wholly unproven. Ultimately, however, the success of that unit this season will go a long way towards establishing what Douglas’ reputation will be.

The Jets were relatively quiet in free agency during Douglas’ first offseason, but free-agent signings like Connor McGovern, Breshad Perriman, and Pierre Desir will further determine what his legacy will be.

As for what he’s done so far, it’s been a mixed bag.

The trade of Leonard Williams for a third and a future fifth-round pick netted the Jets perhaps their future starting free safety in Ashtyn Davis for a player they were never going to re-sign.

At the same time, the signing of former Pro Bowl center Ryan Kalil backfired as did the way he handled the Kelechi Osemele injury debacle.

As it stands today, the Jets roster isn’t much better than it was when Douglas took over. But that’s because it’s only been a year, and Douglas is playing the long game — not the short-term, patchwork strategy the Jets have employed in recent years.

It’s difficult to analyze the current state of the roster and blame Douglas for its shortcomings. The future will be what truly determines Douglas’ fate.

NY Jets reputation

This is perhaps what has changed the most since Douglas took over. Mike Maccagnan was one of the least respected executives in the NFL — and it doesn’t take too much research to come to that conclusion.

From bidding against himself to being used as pawns by free agents, Maccagnan did plenty to tarnish the reputation of Gang Green. But since Douglas has taken over, it’s been a different story entirely.

As ESPN’s Rich Cimini and so many others have put it, “he’s a man with a plan.” He knows what he’s doing and he isn’t willing to let players or teams for that matter walk all over him.

In turn, that’s led to some pretty impressive deals being made in free agency. Whether it was re-signing Jordan Jenkins for just $5 million or doing the same with Brian Poole, Douglas hasn’t wavered and he’s gotten value as a result.

Maccagnan might’ve forked over a truckload of money for players like Byron Jones, Jadeveon Clowney, or even Logan Ryan in free agency. But Douglas sets his price and walks if you don’t come down.

Case in point, Robby Anderson.

Call it complacency, call it a lack of aggressiveness. The NFL is calling it competence.

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Future projection

Ultimately, it’s difficult to grade a general manager after just one season on the job. Realistically, he’s had one offseason to enact his roster-building plan and hasn’t even been able to see it in action yet.

For that reason, it doesn’t matter so much what has already happened, it matters what will happen.

Douglas has a plan. That plan is clear as day with the offensive line, obvious on defense, and a little less apparent (but still there) at wide receiver. Will that plan work? Nobody knows for sure.

There will be bumps along the way and perhaps it will take a coaching change for this organization to truly reach its potential under Douglas. Regardless, Douglas has a plan.

It’s evident in his draft picks this season. They were just as much picks for the future as they were for now. Players like Mekhi Becton, Denzel Mims, and Ashtyn Davis will hopefully be long-term starters for the team.

As previously noted, Douglas is playing the long game. The Jets really aren’t primed for immediate success in 2020. If they get there, cool. But this roster still needs some work and Douglas knows that.

Douglas’ trenches-first mentality when it’s come to roster building is a nice change of pace and it gives hope that the future is bright in Florham Park.

But just like any future projection, it very much remains a wait-and-see process.

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Through one year, however, Douglas has given the Jets a competent, respected front office. And that’s about all Jets fans could ask for from their general manager.