Through nine weeks, the NY Jets have been one of the feel-good surprise stories of the NFL. But for those who have been following the team closely, they know that this isn't some miraculous overnight turnaround that happened by chance.
In fact, that couldn't be farther from the truth.
The Jets' success this season is the product of a slow and meticulous roster rebuild that has taken the better part of the last three years. It's a product of a complete reconstruction of the very foundation of this organization.
It's a product of Joe Douglas. And right now, you might not find a more worthy candidate for this season's Executive of the Year award.
Joe Douglas has officially rebuilt the NY Jets roster
It's almost laughable to compare the roster that Douglas inherited in 2019 to the one that he constructed over the subsequent three years.
In 2019, the Jets' offensive starters consisted of players like Ryan Griffin, Alex Lewis, Jonotthan Harrison, and Demaryius Thomas. Their offensive core was led by a second-year quarterback Sam Darnold, an over-the-hill Le'Veon Bell, and Jamison Crowder.
On defense, the Jets had players like James Burgess, Neville Hewitt, Nate Hairston, Jordan Jenkins, and Darryl Roberts receiving significant playing time. Burgess even led the team in tackles that year, only to play just four more games in his NFL career.
It was a roster devoid of talent and long-term building blocks. Three years later, the Jets have one of the most talented and promising young rosters in the NFL. It didn't come easy, though.
The Jets won just six games over the last two years combined. They discarded players who were once believed to be franchise cornerstones such as Jamal Adams, Sam Darnold, Marcus Maye, and even Robbie Anderson.
But in the process, Douglas was stockpiling talent. There were missteps along the way as with every general manager, but it's hard to argue with the end result. The work Douglas did this past offseason is what truly establishes him as an Executive of the Year frontrunner.
Joe Douglas built a new NY Jets core this offseason
The Jets added three bonafide future (and present) superstars in this year's draft in Sauce Gardner, Breece Hall, and Garrett Wilson. Gardner is already a top-five cornerback in football. Hall was top-10 in scrimmage yards before his injury. Wilson is the Jets' best receiver and has flashed All-Pro upside.
Then you have players like Jermaine Johnson, Max Mitchell, and Micheal Clemons who have all played important roles early in their Jets careers. Mitchell was one of the best rookie offensive tackles before his injury. Johnson and Clemons have both flashed in part-time roles.
The 2022 Jets draft class could go down as one of the best in recent NFL history, akin to the New Orleans Saints 2017 class that netted the team Marshon Lattimore, Alvin Kamara, Ryan Ramczyk, Trey Hendrickson, and Marcus Williams.
That's not even including the players Douglas added in free agency.
D.J. Reed, an under-the-radar addition signed to a three-year, $33 million contract this offseason, is probably a top-10 cornerback in football right now. Laken Tomlinson has helped stabilize an injury-riddled offensive line and is coming off a dominant Week 9 performance.
Tyler Conklin and C.J. Uzomah have given the Jets two legitimate tight ends for the first time in over a decade. Even someone like Duane Brown, a summer addition, has been excellent since his return from injury.
This Jets roster is almost entirely a product of Douglas' rebuild. From draft picks like Gardner and Wilson to free-agent additions like Carl Lawson, Reed, and Tomlinson to waiver-wire pickups in John Franklin-Myers, Quincy Williams, Nate Herbig, Braxton Berrios, etc., this is Joe Douglas' team.
I haven't even mentioned guys like Alijah Vera-Tucker, Michael Carter, Michael Carter II, Jordan Whitehead, and Bryce Huff — all of whom are Joe Douglas additions. There are simply too many talented players on this roster to recount.
Douglas has constructed a playoff-caliber roster full of high-character leaders all led by an absurdly young core. This Jets team doesn't have just one or two building blocks. They don't even have three or four.
Just take a look at all of the key players on both sides of the ball who are 25 years old or younger.
You'd be hard-pressed to find more than a handful of rosters around the NFL (if that) with a more promising core of young players. Given where this team started when Douglas took over just three years ago, the work he's done has been nothing short of miraculous.
The Jets are 6-3 and tied for the most wins in the AFC at the bye week because of their young players and because of their new core.
The Jets are winning football games and shedding narratives, and it's all thanks to Joe Douglas.