Joe Douglas has done his part in rebuilding the New York Jets. Now it is up to the fans to show patience and let this thing grow to maturity.
In what is his first, full offseason with the Jets, Douglas has shown himself to be a mature, thoughtful and pragmatic builder (or perhaps rebuilder) of this team. He’s had a plan and has stuck to it, even when the temptation to veer to the side and take a shortcut is always present. He has consistently sought value and upside, two factors that don’t mingle well in the NFL.
It is an impressive mentality, especially considering that this is not only his first full offseason with the team after being hired last June but this is his first time as a general manager.
In free agency and the NFL Draft, he held true to this doctrine. He came into the offseason with certain priorities and a rather limited free agent budget. His team emerged better and deeper while maintaining flexibility for next offseason and beyond.
Consider the offensive line, where it was assumed that the Jets would make a big push for the likes of Jack Conklin, a Pro Bowl tackle for the Tennessee Titans. The Jets instead went the unheralded route, rifling through the T.J. Maxx and Marshalls of free agency to sign the likes of tackle George Fant and Connor McGovern as well as Greg Van Roten.
None of them were big names. None of them would register excitement among the fans. Instead, all the players were solid and dependable as well as abounding with potential. All of them came at the right price point that didn’t compromise the salary cap.
The same was certainly true with retaining free agents such as Robby Anderson. The Jets wanted to retain Anderson, an erratic but talented (and fast) wide receiver who possesses strong attributes that make him a playmaker. But Anderson wanted too much to return to the Jets so Douglas turned around and signed Breshad Perriman, a wide receiver with similar if not better measurables and output than Anderson last year. Perriman comes with a risk as the former first round pick has underwhelmed throughout his career.
But he represents good value and upside after a solid 2019 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
And in the draft, Douglas held the same pragmatic line of thinking. When pick No. 11 came and both Jerry Jeudy and CeeDee Lamb, the top wide receivers in the class, remained on the board, he didn’t panic. He stuck to his board and took Mekhi Becton who projects as a franchise left tackle. The same prevailing thought happened in the second round when the Jets moved back from the original pick at No. 48 even though some flashy wide receivers were available.
Douglas’ patience paid off and he landed multiple picks to move back 11 slots. Even with this gutsy move he still landed a projected starter at wide receiver in Denzel Mims.
He trusted his draft board and knew that it was a deep class at wide receiver. His patience benefited the roster.
Now, Jets fans must show a similar patience. This team is better and should show as much, even though the schedule is far more challenging this year. But the team is pointed and projected in the right direction.
This won’t be a season where the Jets magically take a huge leap forward to become AFC East champions, but they can and will be a better team with improving talent. Patience will be needed as this roster still has a long ways to go.
The Jets, because they are rebuilding and still have adequate cap space, will be continually be linked to a number of high-profile remaining free agents such as cornerback Logan Ryan and defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. Perhaps at some juncture, their price point will become a good value for the rebuilding Jets.
But for right now, the Jets need to be prepared to go out on the field with their current roster and simply continue to build this team not just for this season but beyond. For a fanbase waiting over five decades to return to the Super Bowl, that isn’t an easy ask.
As difficult as it is, it is the right way to do things. Douglas gets that. Now Jets fans need to get that too.