Much has been made of the NY Jets' 2021 offseason. With a lot of flashy new names and blue-chip talent coming into the building, the team has seen considerably more positive buzz than in previous years.
Second-year head coach Robert Saleh has done a great job of getting players to buy into the culture he is trying to build, and the Jets seem to have a more stable locker room than in years past. Many pundits went as far as to say that the Jets actually had the best offseason of any team in the league.
Despite "winning" the offseason and the supposed culture change, the Jets came out flat in Week 1 against Baltimore, largely thanks to an anemic offense.
Even with all of these positive developments, both Robert Saleh and Joe Douglas must realize that now is the time to translate the hype into something much more tangible: wins.
The NY Jets need to see results from Robert Saleh and Joe Douglas
Zach Wilson being injured is not an excuse. Joe Flacco is an obvious downgrade, especially when it comes to mobility, but Cleveland presents a very winnable opportunity in Week 2 with the Browns trotting out journeyman Jacoby Brissett. Another uncompetitive showing could cause the seats of both men to heat up considerably.
Douglas has been lauded for many of his moves as the Jets' general manager, specifically his prowess in trades. In spite of the excitement, these moves have yet to lead to very many wins for the Jets.
While the roster Douglas inherited was probably the least talented in the NFL, his career record of 13-37 shows that the team has yet to make marginal improvements that serve as key indicators of the success of a rebuild.
That could still happen this year. The 2022 NFL Draft already looks like a win for the Jets, with all three first-round picks providing positive contributions versus the Ravens.
It is also worth noting that the Jets had the most players claimed off of waivers on cut day. This is partially due to the depth and talent Douglas has built, but also due to some roster decisions that already look bad in hindsight.
The decision to cut Jason Pinnock already looks like a regretful one, as Lamarcus Joyner is proving who the weakest link on the Jets' defense is after his Week 1 performance. This is not the first time Douglas has made a questionable player replacement as the Jets GM.
He famously did not pay Robby Anderson what now amounts to a very reasonable contract given the state of the wide receiver market, instead opting to replace him with former first-round bust Breshad Perriman who lasted one season in New York.
The 2020 draft also looks like it will go down as one of the worst Jets draft classes of all time. To ignore the gaffes from this regime while only paying attention to the talent acquired is a recipe for surefire disappointment.
All Douglas can do now is watch the product he has built, and if the wins begin to stack up, the narrative around him will change completely.
Just like in the case of Douglas, winning football games will completely reverse the narrative around Robert Saleh and the job he is doing. In New York, everything is amplified, especially when it comes to the media.
Saleh has done a pretty good job of navigating the waters thus far with the media, but it seems that his honeymoon phase is coming to an end.
His most recent comment about "taking receipts" when it comes to pundits and fans writing off the team seems to highlight the fact that he at least cares about winning, something that often came into question under the previous head coach.
Saleh walked back his comments a day later, stating that he was speaking on behalf of the team and backing his players. Ultimately, none of this matters. If Saleh comes out on Sunday with a great gameplan that results in a Jets win, he's instantly loved no matter what he said pregame.
For any team, especially one like the Jets who have not seen the playoffs in over a decade, wins will carry exponentially more weight than any amount of likability or energy from the head coach to the media.
Saleh and Douglas are undoubtedly tied to each other, and their fate rests on the performance of the roster that they built and handpicked. This is not Mike Maccagnan's roster or that of Adam Gase. This roster reflects the football philosophy of Saleh and Douglas, and the performance of the team falls squarely on the shoulders of both men.
While it is only Week 1, it's fair to say that another year of losing and uncompetitive football will lead many to call for their jobs, and rightfully so. It is officially time for this duo to start translating hype into tangible results.