NY Jets: The honeymoon period is over for Joe Douglas

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NY Jets general manager Joe Douglas has avoided scrutiny until this point, but that’s about to change.

NY Jets fans were so desperate for a savior that they embraced general manager Joe Douglas when he arrived. The love affair may not be over yet for some, but there’s evidence that suggests that it should be.

The consensus among many is that the jury is still out on Joe Douglas as Jets GM. One of the strong talking points in defense of Douglas has been to grant him a mulligan for what has transpired to this point. — specifically for 2019.

It’s almost as if Joe Douglas was granted redshirt freshman status as GM.

The truth is that the Jets’ current predicament in 2020 has a lot to do with 2019 and the actions and inactions of the teams’ general manager. At best, the overall job performance of Joe Douglas should be labeled as not good or yet to be determined.

Look at the body of work provided by Douglas. The Jets’ best player, Jamal Adams, was traded away. Le’Veon Bell is now gone as well. The current team is winless and void of talent, and the franchise has been stripped of its dignity and has no identity.

Adam Gase will deservedly be the fall guy when it’s all said and done, but Joe Douglas also has a hand in the current state of the team’s culture. One that is so poor, it’s alienated fans and the players who will hesitate to join the Jets in the future.

So how did we get here?

NY Jets’ brass: Adam Gase and Joe Douglas

The Jets’ fanbase does not want to admit it, but one of the main reasons that Joe Douglas is here is because owner Christopher Johnson wanted to give Adam Gase what he desired.

And that’s someone who can work in lock-step with him. Johnson envisioned a setup where his hand-picked head coach could flourish on the same page with the general manager.

The coach was hired before the GM. A familiar and failed strategy utilized by Jets ownership in the past. This time, it was supposed to be different.

Even though Gase and Douglas were an arranged marriage, both parties vouched for one another. The truth is that Joe Douglas is here because of Adam Gase, and in some respects, Douglas chose New York because of Gase.

The expectation is that these two will be divorced by the end of this season. It seems inevitable that the owner who put the marriage together will have to annul it.

NY Jets’ general manager Joe Douglas has been given a free pass for 2019

Because the Jets finished the 2019 season strong, winning six of their last eight games. Adam Gase got a pass. Not from the majority of the Jets’ fanbase or Gase’s biggest detractors, but ownership.

The person who received the most significant pass from everyone in 2019 was Jets’ GM Joe Douglas.

After all, Douglas took over a franchise that was a mess. He inherited years of poor drafting and free-agent acquisitions by the previous regimes. The shortcomings of 2019 weren’t the fault of Joe Douglas.

It was Mike Maccagnan that botched free agency and the draft before Douglas arrived. So it was only fair to dismiss 2019 from the ledger of Douglas, or was it?

2019 was a pivotal year for Joe Douglas in steering the Jets ship in the right direction. Sure, the franchise had many weak points, but Douglas was entrusted with identifying what they were and building upon what the team had.

The seeds for the Jets’ current state were planted last season.

NY Jets’ GM Joe Douglas is building for year two

Joe Douglas saw firsthand the value of getting Sam Darnold the support he needed to live up to his franchise quarterback status. The Jets’ GM decided to revamp the team’s entire offensive line — a logical conclusion.

Thus far, the new offensive line for New York has produced mixed results. There’s no denying that first-round pick Mekhi Becton is a legitimate building block for the future.

However, Douglas let Darnold’s best weapon in the passing game, Robby Anderson, walk right out the door. The fan-favorite wanted to remain with the team that gave him a chance as an undrafted free agent out of Temple.

Despite plenty of cap space, Joe Douglas did not see Anderson’s value, low balled him, and is now watching as Anderson excels as a true No. 1 receiver for the Carolina Panthers. To compound matters, Douglas did very little to replace Anderson or improve the weapons around Darnold.

The best player that the Jets have had in years was superstar safety Jamal Adams. The entire fanbase fell in love with him. His play style and energy were infectious. Despite the teams’ struggles, Adams was a player that the entire franchise could hang their hat on.

Joe Douglas didn’t see Jamal’s long-term value and refused to enter into legitimate contract talks with Adams. It got ugly, Jamal Adams wanted out, and we all know how that story ended.

Another star player that Joe Douglas inherited was running back Le’Veon Bell. The head coach didn’t want Bell, and the GM would never have paid for him.

In the eyes and mind of Joe Douglas, the Maccagnan mistake is finally gone. It just took a little over a season for the Jets GM to get it accomplished.

Joe Douglas’ leadership with the NY Jets

Part of being the organization leader is building trust and a rapport with everyone in the building. Joe Douglas is expected to be a leader who earns respect.

Before the Adams, Bell, or Anderson situations occurred. There were some telltale signs of dissent between the front office led by Douglas and its players.

Last October, there were warning signs during the Kelechi Osemele injury dispute. The Jets tried to force Osemele’s hand or, in this case, injured right shoulder into playing. Kelechi adamantly stated that he was in too much pain to play. The Jets’ front office and their doctors disagreed.

The handling of the injury set off a war between the player and team, with Osemele filing a grievance with the NFL PA because the Jets fined him his weekly game checks, in the amount of $579,000.

Joe Douglas released Osemele during the dispute because the veteran offensive guard defied the team and had unauthorized surgery.

Then there was loyal soldier, wide receiver Quincy Enunwa, who suffered a serious neck injury last year. For missing two treatments to be with his wife, the Jets fined Enunwa to the tune of nearly $28,000.

The maximum fine that a player can receive. The oft-injured Enunwa was disciplined and disheartened by the new regime’s lack of respect and care for him.

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2020 mismanagement by NY Jets’ GM Joe Douglas

The Jets’ mismanagement of injured players in 2019 has transitioned right over into 2020.

A recent example of this is the Jets irresponsibly dressing and then putting Mekhi Becton into the Denver Broncos game with an injured shoulder — one that he immediately reaggravated — forcing him to miss more time.

The most prized possession of the Joe Douglas draft class was put in jeopardy. One could blame Adam Gase, but the GM also has a say in these matters. And the Jets’ history with their treatment of injured players during this regime doesn’t suggest that Gase is the lone gunman.

In that very same game. Sam Darnold sprained the AC joint in his right throwing shoulder and was allowed to re-enter the action, a decision that could have proved catastrophic for the players’ career.

A further example of these types of mistakes was in Week 1, the now dearly departed Le’Veon Bell was thrust back into a game after injuring his hamstring, and predictably got hurt and missed three games.

The mismanagement has bled over to the handling of the entire roster.

A GM’s job requires that he gives his team the best chance to win every week by utilizing the roster wisely.

For a stretch, the Jets have carried five quarterbacks in total on their active roster and practice squad — almost more than the number of receivers that the team has had at its disposal on game days.

The league’s new short-term IR rules, which allow for three-week absences, should have aided the Jets in stashing players like the injured Breshad Perriman.

Instead, Perriman took up a roster spot for over three weeks, when the franchise desperately needed warm bodies at the receiver position.

These types of weekly roster gaffes cast doubt on Joe Douglas’ competency as a general manager. You can chalk it up to Douglas’ inexperience in the role, but it’s alarming how poorly the team has been constructed and managed.

The owner is taking most of the heat for Adam Gase remaining the head coach, but Joe Douglas has catered to Gase’s every whim, just as much as Christopher Johnson has.

It’s reflected in the players Douglas traded for (Demaryius Thomas) and signed (Frank Gore). Both Gase soldiers. To an extent, Bell and Adams are gone because they weren’t loyal to Adam Gase.

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Final conclusion on Joe Douglas and the NY Jets

In all likelihood, unless the Jets ownership shifts gears and blows everything up. Joe Douglas is going to get the opportunity to fix the franchise. One could argue that the damage done could be beyond repair, especially when it comes to earning its fans’ faith and enticing free agents.

The Jets have the worst talent roster in all of football. The team lacks elite players, and the ones they had are gone. Hence, they are winless, and the probability exists that they will stay that way for the entire season.

Joe Douglas has to take some of the blame for that and the team’s current predicament. Not just for the lack of talent accumulated on the field but also for how he has handled the entire football operation.

It seems like Douglas has alienated every Jets player that he inherited. Oftentimes, at the behest of his accomplice Adam Gase.

This even extends to the Jets present-day franchise quarterback, Sam Darnold. It’s looking very likely that Darnold is the final inherited piece that Joe Douglas will move on from. No matter how the story ends, the franchise did not do right by Darnold, and Douglas deserves criticism for it.

The New York Jets as a franchise, throughout their history, seem always to defy logic, but if they land the first pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Unless he has a change of heart and decides to stay in school. The Jets are going to draft Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Knowing the Jets luck, Lawrence will pull an Eli Manning-like power-play to avoid joining Gang Green. Could you blame him if he did?

Next. NY Jets: 3 reasons why Le’Veon Bell failed with Gang Green

Once Adam Gase is gone, the onus and scrutiny attached to the Jets’ future will fall squarely on the shoulders of Joe Douglas. The Jets’ GM may have inherited a mess when he got here, but he’s also had a hand in creating the one that exists.

You dug the hole even deeper, Joe, now dig yourself out of it.