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Ex-Jets Scout Grades GM Joe Douglas

This former Jets scout provides an in-depth grade of Joe Douglas, evaluating his tenure as general manager.

Hopes were high when team owners, Mr. Woody Johnson and Mr. Christopher Johnson hired Joe Douglas on June 7, 2019.

Douglas was named as New York’s General Manager and he got to work.

He has had three full seasons at the helm, along with three full-cycles of free agency and drafts.

Bottom line: Douglas has produced 13 wins in three calendar years, which represents the third-worst record in the NFL during that time span.

I am not here to fluff things up like the rest of the Jets media. In the words of Bill Parcells, “You are what your record says you are.”

Jets Records since Douglas was hired:

2019: 7-9

2020: 2-14

2021: 4-13

Jets Offensive Team Rankings (Total Yardage)

2021: No. 26

2020: No. 32

2019: No. 32

Jets Defensive Team Rankings (Points Allowed)

2021: No. 32

2020: No. 26

2019: No. 16

Daniel Kelly’s Joe Douglas Grade: D

I come from the old school. I worked on Parcells’ staff at the Jets. Parcells didn’t make any excuses and he didn’t offer any. That team ran like a well oiled machine and within those walls, you would not know if the Jets were 1-15 or one game away from the Super Bowl, the week before the Jets took on the Broncos in the 1998 AFC Championship Game.

As someone who worked in the Pro Scouting Department with the Jets for four years, I will look at Douglas’ head coaching hire and analyze his work at each position.

Head Coach Hire: Robert Saleh

Grade: F

Saleh came to the Jets’ from the 49ers as their defensive coordinator. The Jets have yet to take on Saleh’s defensive personality.

Quarterback

Grade: D

Team Passing Ranking:

2021: No. 20

2020: No. 31

2019: No. 29

Douglas traded veteran quarterback Sam Darnold to Carolina (for a 2nd, 4th and 6th round picks) prior to the 2021 NFL Draft, and then turned around and selected QB Zach Wilson No. 2 overall in the first round that year.

Douglas also brought in backups Mike White, who was a former Dallas fifth-rounder and Joe Flacco.

On game film and in the analytics in 2021, White (66.7% completion percentage) proved to be better suited to lead the Jets.

Flacco completed 61.5% of his passes in his one start.

The two backups were solid acquisitions, but Wilson leaves a lot to be desired. Wilson finished the season as the third-most sacked QB and as the No. 30 ranked passer with a 55.6% completion percentage.

Darnold ranked No. 28 and completed 59.9% of his passes for Carolina in 2021.

Running back

Grade: B

Team Rushing Ranking:

2021: No. 25

2020: No. 22

2019: No. 31

Douglas cut veteran runner Le’Veon Bell who didn’t do much after leaving New York (good move) and drafted backs Michael Carter (2021 4th round) and Breece Hall (2022 2nd round).

Carter ran hard and averaged 4.3 yards-per-carry in his rookie season, and Hall looks like the next Adrian Peterson on his college game film.

Douglas added free agents Tevin Coleman, who averaged 4.2 yards-per-carry in 2021, and Ty Johnson (2021: 3.9 avg.).

Wide Receiver

Grade: B

What Douglas has done at receiver headed into the 2022 season is worthy of a standing ovation. He didn’t let fan favorite Braxton Berrios get away, and he selected Garrett Wilson (2022 1st Round).

Not bad... In 2021 Douglas selected Elijah Moore (2nd Round).

On paper, the Jets have the best receivers room in the NFL.

The Breshad Perriman acquisition didn’t pay major dividends as he only caught half his targeted passes. Signing Corey Davis for $37.5 million, Keelan Cole for $5.5 million and selecting Denzel Mims in the 2nd round (2020) didn’t help either.

Tight End

Grade: D+

Douglas got going by re-signing Ryan Griffin to a 3-year extension for $10.8 million in November 2019. He caught 70 total passes in three years.

Tyler Croft didn’t fare much better after signing a one-year, $2 million contract in 2021 and he caught 16 passes.

This offseason Douglas went for broke with the tight-end position, after not getting much production. Douglas signed C.J. Uzomah (3-years, $24 million) and Tyler Conklin (3-years, $20.3 million) and drafted Jeremy Ruckert in the 3rd round (2022).

Offensive Line

Grade: F

Team Rushing:

2021: No. 25

2020: No. 22

2019: No. 31

Team Passing:

2021: No. 20

2020: No. 31

2019: No. 29

Sacks allowed:

2021: 53 (No. 28)

2020: 43 (No. 23)

2019: 52 (No. 28)

Douglas’ first big splash (no pun intended) was selecting Mekhi Becton as his signature first first-round pick as a GM. Becton is now in serious danger of being a bust after missing 18/33 games.

Douglas has done little to build the offensive line through three drafts, using only 4/25 of his picks on offensive linemen.

A vast majority of the reserves (most who lack experience) have contracts that expire after this season and he has spent little money to acquire any of them. Guard Dan Feeney is the headliner from 2021 free agency (1-year, $3.5 million). He re-signed for 2022 for $3 million.

Douglas has invested in free agency with (OG) Laken Tomlinson (3-years, $40 million), (OT) George Fant (3-years, $27.3 million) and (C) Connor McGovern (3-years, $27 million). Fant and McGovern are in the last year of their deals.

However, Douglas also invested in OG Greg Van Roten (3-years, $10.5 million), Alex Lewis (3-years $18.6 million) and center Josh Andrews (1-year, $1,047,500). None of these three are with the team currently.

Douglas did make a solid selection with OG Alijah Vera-Tucker, who started 16 games in his rookie season last year and turned in a 67.2 Pro Football Focus grade (2nd best among rookie guards who played at least 80% of the snaps). He also allowed only two sacks.

Douglas heads into 2022 with two starting tackles (Fant and Becton) both coming off knee surgeries and to date, has not acquired any quality experienced depth at tackle, after losing Morgan Moses to the Ravens in free agency.

At this point, he is banking on 2022 4th round tackle, Max Mitchell if anything goes south.

READ: Has Jets' Joe Douglas Built a Shaky Offensive Line?

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Defensive Line

Grade: D

Team Sack Totals:

2021: 33 (No. 26)

2020: 31 (No. 20)

2019: 35 (No. 23)

Team Run Defense:

2021: No. 29

2020: No. 12

2019: No. 2

The defensive line’s run defense numbers have fallen off a cliff since Douglas took over and the pass rush has consistently stayed below average by league standards.

Outside of the abysmal passing team production, not being able to get to the QB in today’s pass happy NFL has greatly contributed to Douglas’ low win total as a GM.

Douglas’ most productive score on the defensive line is when he claimed DE John Franklin-Myers off waivers in September 2019. He has put up nine sacks in two seasons and played himself into a 4-year, $55 million deal.

After getting mediocre overall sack production out of the line his first season as GM, Douglas responded by casually waiting to the 3rd round of the 2020 draft to select DE Jabari Zuniga and he did not sign any defensive linemen in free agency that off-season. Zuniga has put up one sack in two seasons.

Douglas was more active in free agency in the 2021 offseason signing DE Carl Lawson (3-years, $45 million), DT Sheldon Rankins (2-years, $11 million) and DE Vinny Curry (1-year, $1.12 million). Lawson hasn’t played a down for the Jets due to injury. Rankins produced 15 solo tackles and three sacks in 16 games played. Curry had medical issues as well that kept him from playing in 2021, but he has re-signed with the Jets for 2022.

Douglas did next to nothing in the 2021 NFL Draft with the defensive line, selecting Jonathan Marshall in the 6th round. Marshall played in one game and logged one solo tackle.

This past offseason Douglas reached back into free agency to bring in Jacob Martin from the Texans (3 years, $13.5 million) Martin logged 13.5 sacks for the Seahawks and Texans over four seasons.

Douglas brought in DT Nathan Shepherd (1-year, $1.1 million) after he did not produce any sacks in 2021 and put up 17 solo tackles. Douglas added DT Solomon Thomas who logged 17 solo tackles and 3.5 sacks for the Raiders last season.

In the 2022 NFL Draft, Douglas went for DE Jermaine Johnson in the 1st round. I am not a big fan of Johnson. I feel he is rigid and lacks the speed and moves to win the edge in the NFL.

Douglas additionally added DE Michael Clemsons in the 4th round, who I feel is now the best defensive lineman on the roster.

Kudos to Douglas on the Clemons pick.

Linebackers

Grade: D-

Team Sack Totals:

2021: 33 (No. 26)

2020: 31 (No. 20)

2019: 35 (No. 23)

Team Run Defense:

2021: No. 29

2020: No. 12

2019: No. 2

The best linebacker on the roster, C.J. Mosley, signed with the Jets shortly before Douglas was hired, but didn’t play a full season until 2021. He put up 168 tables (103 solo) and added two sacks that year.

Moves Douglas has made include Neville Hewitt (resigned him 1-year, $2.0 million), Jordan Jenkins (resigned him 1-year, $5.5 million), James Burgess, Jr. (re-signed him to 1-year, $925,000) and Patrick Onwuasor (1-year, $2.0 million) in 2020 free agency.

Douglas didn’t add any linebackers in the 2020 draft.

During the 2020 season Hewitt logged 134 tackles (91 solo) and two sacks. Jenkins put up 32 tackles (15 solo) and two sacks. Burgess and Onwuasor didn’t play for the Jets that year.

In 2021 free agency, Douglas brought in Jarrad Davis (1-year, $5.5 million). He also added Del’Shawn Phillips (1-year, $780,000). Phillips was resigned for 2022 (1-year, $895,000).

Douglas added linebacker Jamien Sherwood in the 5th round and Hamsah Nasirildeen in the 6th round of the 2021 draft.

During the 2021 season, Davis flopped producing 25 tackles (18 solo), and zero sacks.

Sherwood played in 5 games and put up 15 tackles (8 solo) and no sacks.

Nasirildeen played in 12 games and had 10 tackles (3 solo) and no sacks.

Phillips played in 17 games and had 31 tackles (11 solo) and one sack.

In late December 2021, Douglas added Javin White, who last played for the Raiders in 2020 and logged 4 tackles (3 solo) that season.

In 2022 free agency Douglas added Marcell Harris from the 49ers (1-year, $1.18 million). Last season for San Francisco, Harris produced 44 tackles (24 solo) and one sack.

Douglas added no linebackers in the 2022 draft, but signed DQ Thomas as an undrafted free agent.

Outside of Hewitt, the most productive signing Douglas has made as a GM at LB is when he signed Quincy Williams off the waiver wire. Williams had 110 tackles (73 solo) last season and added two sacks.

Defensive Backs

Grade: B-

Team Pass Defense:

2021: No. 30

2020: No. 29

2019: No. 17

This is a unit that has been steadily declining on Douglas’ watch. Granted, Douglas had a strong 2022 off-season in this area.

Douglas added free agent corner D.J. Reed (3-years, $33 million) and safety Jordan Whitehead (2-years, $14.5 million).

Then Douglas hit a home-run by selecting Ahmad Gardner in the 1st round of this past draft. I believe Gardner is the next Champ Bailey.

2022 will feature three/four new starters as Douglas tries to change the narrative of how he has built the Jets’ secondary.

Up until this off-season, the biggest splash Douglas made was trading their best defensive back, Jamal Adams to Seattle back in 2020. Since being in Seattle, Adams has logged 170 tackles (115 solo), 9.5 sacks, 2 interceptions and 8 passes defended.

A few of the Douglas era names that stand out in the secondary, Ashtyn Davis (98 career tackles, 68 solo, 2 interceptions and 4 passes defended) and Bryce Hall (115 career tackles, 99 solo, 1 interception and 19 passes defended) from the 2020 NFL Draft, and the decision to re-sign Brian Poole during 2020 free agency.

Safety Michael Carter (72 tackles, 45 solo, 1 interception and 5 passes defended) and corner Brandin Echols (63 tackles, 50 solo, 2 interceptions, 1 pass defended) stand out from the 2021 draft. Douglas scored Carter in the 5th round and Echols in the 6th round (nice work).

Signing Elijah Riley off of Philadelphia’s practice squad was a nice move also by Douglas in November 2021. Riley jumped right in and put up 45 tackles (23 solo) and had 1 pass defended.

Special Teams

Grade: B

Rick Gosselin’s team rankings:

2021: No. 13

2020: No. 26

2019: No. 8

The Jets have now had eight kickers since 2019 and the hope is that they have found some sense of stability with Greg Zuerlein signed in 2022 free agency.

Punter Braden Mann was selected in the 6th round of the 2020 draft and he has ranked No. 32 in 2021 and No. 1 in 2020.

The highlight is Berrios being named as an Associated Press All-Pro Kick Returner, after leading the NFL with a 30.43 yard average last season.

Summary: Douglas’ win-loss record (13-36) and the independent rankings where the Jets stack up against the rest of the NFL say everything that needs to be said. 

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