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The Good and Bad of Joe Douglas’ Press Conference

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What did he really say?

New York Jets v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Every year the GM of every team must face the music (media) in the year’s final press conference to assess the team, where it is and where it is going. For the most part GM’s talk in coach speak, accentuating the positive while downplaying the negative.

You can picture Bing Crosby (an old crooner for you young people) signing:

You’ve got to accentuate the positive

Eliminate the negative

Latch on to the affirmative

Don’t mess with mister in between

You’ve got to spread joy up to the maximum

Bring gloom down to that minimum

Have faith, a pandemonium

Libel to walk up on the scene

To illustrate my last remark

Talking about Jonah in the Whale, Noah in the arc

What did they do

When everything looked so dark?

Thank you, Bing...

I don’t know whether Joe Douglas can carry a tune, but he seems to be able to do a fine tap dance around the tough questions while sounding like he is giving a direct answer.

So far Joe Douglas is doing a fine job as GM in the way he avoids giving concrete answers while playing the spin doctor and sounding like the team in right on course. He is not unlike a magician who takes off his top hat and pulls a rabbit from it minutes later. You know the rabbit wasn’t in there to begin with, but the good magician makes you wonder whether that is true.

If you listen to every GM’s end of year press conference you would swear that every team is headed to the Playoffs next year.

Yet you can glean some truths about his stewardship of the Jets through the double talk and affirmations that the Jets are on the right track.

Joe Douglas on the year in 2019

“Touching on this year, 7 & 9 is not where we want to be as a team or as an organization. The goal is the playoffs and the Super Bowl every year.”

“This team faced a lot of adversity, too many to just go into every single one. But I can’t tell you how proud I am of the way the players, the locker room, the staff, everyone in this building, they stuck together. There was opportunity to roll over and no one did it. The work ethic, the passion, there was no pointing fingers, guys stayed together, you saw it at practice every day and you saw it in the back half of the year. I mean going 6 & 2 that’s not luck, you don’t do that, it takes a group of guys who became galvanized and stuck together.”

Analysis

Joe is right on in his words. 7 - 9 is not the team goal, but the team also could have fallen apart halfway through the year. This team was 1 - 7 at one point and able to hold together as a team with all the loses and trade deadline issues. They held it together, quite well amazingly. I am no fan of Adam Gase, but he has to be given some credit for this. The players themselves held together. That is a sign of good team leadership from Jamal Adams, Steve McLendon, and other leaders. It just shows how important it is to have quality character and strong team leaders on a squad. Adversity doesn’t build character, it shows character. The strong stay together while the week find excuses.

Yes, I know that the teams the Jets played in the second half of the year were not as strong as the first half but a win in the NFL is not easy. Just ask New England who lost to the Dolphins at home to lose a first round bye this week.

For the players that stay here next year it will be a rallying cry if things begin to go south or become difficult. This was a tough year no doubt with a new coaching staff, Sam’s mono, and 20 players on IR. To bounce back like they did shows great fortitude. It is something that can’t be overlooked just as our team weaknesses need to be addressed.

Joe on the future..

“You know what we’ve got to do is...the hope, I won’t even say the hope because hope is not a strategy, the plan moving forward is that this is a launch pad for us. We are going take the success, the way we were able to win close games, to learn how to win close games, learn how to win and take that moving forward off of that. Every year is it’s own entity and these guys are going to take the lessons learned this year moving forward. “

“That being said there is a lot of work to do, there are 20+ UFA’s and RFA’s, we have 8 draft picks, four of which are in the top 80 so there is a lot of work, a lot of detail, a lot of preparation that is going to go into the coming months for us to execute our plan.”

“And what is our plan? So the plan is to create the best culture in sports, um what do I mean by that? You know I think the best culture is, it’s a self-sustaining entity where professionalism, leadership it’s transferred from one generation to the next and you see that in every great team. Every great team has that culture and that is what we are going to try and create here. You what is it going to take? It’s going to take people with the right level of commitment, character and confidence. Every person, every player that we bring into this building is going to assessed on their fit on our culture and their ability to help us achieve our ultimate goal which is to win a Super Bowl year in and year out.”

Analysis

Some great stuff here and some just hopefulness on Joe’s part. It’s nice to win close games in the NFL, but that is a bad strategy as teams usually regress in this statistic. There are too many things that can go wrong to constantly win close games. Turnovers, bad calls by refs, missed field goals, and fluke plays will happen. Just ask the Saints who were dusted from the chance for a Super Bowl twice in two years by a fluke play and a bad non-call by the refs. The best course of action is to devise a game plan to get a sizable lead in games to avoid the inevitable bad loss. It takes talent, great coaching, and players who have a strong desire to win. When a team gets up by a decent margin the natural reaction is to ease up, but a strong team knows how to put the opponent away by finishing games. Hey...the Jets get blown out enough they should know what it looks like.

Fluke plays and bad calls happen to teams with big leads too. You just don’t remember them because they don’t cause a loss The key is to come out strong every game by doing what the other team doesn’t expect. The Cowboys this year had a great roster, full of talent yet finished at .500. They always ran the same plays on offense and defense. The other teams knew what they were going to run so it was easier to defend against them or take advantage of them.

The part about using the 6 - 2 record in the second half to launch us into next year never works. Like Joe said each year is it’s own entity. He also said the Jets have over 20 free agents. That is more than 13 of the team, Most are not going to be back. So some players can call on the good second half as inspiration for when times get tough, but the roster will be so divergent that it will not be a factor for motivation.

The part about culture was spot on, and I was very happy to hear that Joe was going to make it a priority in his assessment of players and coaches. How Adam Gase fits into that equation is another matter. I don’t think he does, but I could be wrong.

Correct team culture is something you have to scout and reinforce everyday. The head coach has to be someone the players respect and trust. The head coach then needs 5 or 6 players he knows are strong leaders on the team. He relates the mantra he wants as a team thread. Players then can police themselves, McLendon, Mosley and Adams are such players on the defense while the offensive side of the ball may lack the leaders necessary (other than Sam who is not yet at that level of trust) to be assertive enough.

Culture beats strategy every time, and great teams develop that culture with the players leading the way. The Patriots have always had great culture. That was enforced by players like Teddy Bruschi, Mike Vrabel, Julian Edelman, Ty Law, Willie McGinest, Richard Seymour, and Vince Wilfork as well as others. Tom Brady doesn’t even need to be part of that group, and the group doesn’t have to be all superstars.

With as few as 6 strong voices the other 47 players on the team will march to the beat of the drum. It helps players stay focused during a long season while it helps the development of some younger players. Soon the mantra becomes the norm, and players will do the extra things needed to become a potent force on the team. This makes the entire team stronger.

It is not a new concept, but one coaches have preached for years. Coach George Allen of the team from our nation’s capital was not a great X’s and O’s coach, but he is a Hall of Famer because he harped that 11 men together can’t lose. He got his guys to play together, and even though a lot of them were not the greatest athletes he got the best from them as a cohesive unit.

If Joe Douglas can replicate the type of culture that exists in New England it would be the best thing he could ever do. It would be better than hiring a great coach or bringing in some new fangled offense. Of course bringing in some great coaches would be nice but not as good as developing that winning culture formed by the players themselves. That type of trust among players is hard to make and easy to break. If it can be accomplished; it would be glorious.

Also Joe said the Jets have 8 Drafts pick, but I believe they only have 7. Maybe he has a trade waiting to happen we don’t know about, but I’m thinking he just misspoke. Still he is fired up for the Draft which is a good thing.

These statements now are in responses to questions from the media, and I will paraphrase his responses.

Joe on Le’veon Bell and Jamal Adams

Joe says he loves Le’veon Bell who is a hard worker and relates very well with his teammates. He also said he had a long talk with Jamal Adams after the trade deadline and just after the season. Things are positive between them.

As for possible trades he said he would listen to all trade offers . Last year those trade offers for Jamal Adams never reached the serious stages.

Analysis

This is a lot to do about nothing. Joe is the GM of the Jets and should listen to all trade offers to anyone on the Jets including coaches. That doesn’t mean he is shopping anyone, but if someone gave him an offer like the one for Ricky Williams or Herschel Walker he would be a fool not to listen. Every player or coach has a price you would trade away for. It is just a fact of life in the NFL and not newsworthy.

Joe on the offensive line

Joe realized the struggles of the offensive line at the beginning of the year an was proud how the line really stuck together and made improvements in the second half of the year. How they are growing pains not growing joys, “but moving forward the line of scrimmage is always going to be a priority here and is something we are going to look to improve every year.”

Analysis

This is some more good stuff from Joe He realized that he offensive line was a problem, but he didn’t throw them under the bus by calling them out. He did praise them for doing a better job in the second half but made it perfectly clear that he was going to significantly upgrade the offensive line. He couldn’t even hide that as he stopped short and stated that, “the line of scrimmage was going to be improved every year he is here.”

That is music to the ears of all Jets fans after the reign of Maccagnan (who couldn’t spell offensive line let alone reinforce it). It is just another instance whereJoe has correct priorities in today’s NFL as with injuries along with father time degrade the line of scrimmage (offensive and defensive) every year.

My guess (and it’s only a guess) is that significant assets will be used in free agency as well as the Draft to alleviate the problem on the o-line. Being a former o-lineman himself it must have gnawed at him to watch the struggles in the trenches this year.

I know ot has been said that no changes to the staff of Adam Gase will be made (by Adam Gase), but if I were Joe Douglas I would strongly recommend that offensive line coach Frank Pollack be replaced by recently released Bill Callahan (by Washington) or Harry Hiestand (by Chicago). I think either would be a huge improvement over Pollack.

I would replace Gase and his lackey Loggains, but I don’t foresee that happening any time soon.

Joe on Adam Gase and Sam Darnold

Joe mentioned how great a job the entire coaching staff did after a 1 - 7 start and not many teams finish 6 - 2 after a 1 - 7 start. He felt that Adam and Sam developed a strong trusting, honest relationship, a relationship that really blossomed.

Analysis

This is why I think Adam Gase is safe for the year as Joe has given much of the credit to the coaches for the 6-2 finish to the year. Joe just moves past the 1-7 start or the fact that this was a veteran team and the record amount of money that was spent in the offseason.

Yes, Sam Darnold was out with mono, but Joe fails to address the fact that his replacement was a hand picked player by coach Adam Gase.

Yes, Siemian and Luke Falk both struggled when they were playing for the Jets, but both were well versed in Adam Gase’s offense, more so than Sam Darnold.

There is a lot of smoke that surrounds Adam Gase which is why the fan base is mostly untrusting of him. So yes, I can see why Joe lavishes praise on Gase for the 6-2 finish, but he should be just as admonished for the 1-7 beginning as well. You can’t pick and choose to look at the season in parts. You can’t have one without the other.

Yes this is a press conference that the GM is trying to show the team in the best light possible, but you can’t fool the fans who watch this team live every week. It makes you look disingenuous to the person on the street.

Joe on the fact the Jets finished near the bottom of every offensive category and what gives him confidence that Adam Gase can have an offense capable of leading the Jets into the playoffs

Joe said he knows were the stats, and he needs to go back to see how the Jets did in the second half of the year. He feels that the Jets were much much better offensively once the coaching staff had time to install the scheme. He felt that the Jets dramatically improved from the first half of the year.

Analysis

What Joe says here is factually the truth, but it is specious reasoning to the highest degree. The Jets in the first half of the year played the Patriots twice getting crushed by a combined score of 63 -14. The Jets also had a Sam Darnold miss 4 games during the first half of the year. The combined record of the opponents in the half were 68-60 compared to the combined record of the 2nd half teams 54-74 which includes a date with the 14-2 Ravens The Jets only played two teams in the 2nd half of the year who won at least 10 games, the Ravens and the Bills 10-6 who rested many of their players.

So you see this idea that the Jets got better on offense is questionable at best considering the teams they were playing. If you take out the Ravens in the 2nd half the combined won loss records of the teams is a staggering 40-72 which is a 35.7% winning percentage.

Sure you could conclude with a glass half full attitude that the Jets were better on offense in the last 8 games, but by how much? Using some degree of logic you would have to assume the Jets were no better in the either half. Beating the dregs of the NFL doesn’t make you a better team, but it can give you a false sense of confidence.

It is concerning that a GM would resort to spurious statements as a reason to give a coach or player a thumbs up for his actions. Players can see through that type of talk. You can’t fool the players. They are in the locker room, in meetings and in games.

Now we can assume since Chris Johnson opened his mouth a while back and said the Jets were going to retain Adam Gase that a coaching change is out of Joe Douglas’ hands. So now Joe might be trying to rationalize why it is in the best interest to keep Adam Gase around.

When the history is written about Joe Douglas’s work with the Jets there is not going to be an asterisk that says “he worked with a bad owner” so whatever happens with the Jets is going to be on his resume alone. He would be wise to make all the decisions because he is going to get the adulation or the scorn no matter what happens. The old adage “two cooks spoil the broth” works well in this situation.

If this is the case then it is a sad state of affairs since Joe was hired to resurrect this franchise. It is like the Johnsons can’t stop stepping on their own feet in relation to the Jets. If you want someone to do a job then give him the keys and stay out of the way. It is like Chris Johnson can’t stop hurting himself. Also if this is the case then you might lose some confidence in Joe Douglas as he was given a mandate and should tell the Johnsons that he is here to make the decisions. He should tell the brothers Johnson it needs to be his way.

I don’t know the actual situation. I don’t know whether Joe Douglas is trying to prove a positive point to the fans and media or to himself. Either way something seems off.

Joe was asked how conscience he was of compensatory picks and how active he would be in free agency?

Joe stated that both in Philadelphia and Baltimore that decisions were made with an eye toward compensatory picks. That it was a complicated formula and decisions were made relative to specific players in those two places. Yet he was going to do what is best for the Jets without worrying too much about “comp” picks.

Analysis

This could almost be seen ahead of time. The Jets have so many needs now it would be impossible to improve the team while trying receive “comp” picks. The only free agent the Jets have who could give them a decent “comp” pick is Robby Anderson. If the Jets lose Robby but sign even one free agent for any substantial amount of money they would not get a “comp” pick anyway.

This just shows that Joe Douglas is going to be a player in the free agent market. He probably would sign both guard Brandon Scherff and tackle Jack Conklin. If he can sign both it would be a major coup for the Jets and free up some Draft capital for edge players and CBs.

Of course he should also re-sign Brent Qvale and Ben Ijalana...just kidding.

This is Joe’s first chance to show us how committed he is to fixing the offensive line, and he should not disappoint. If you want to be the best you need to have talent so the thought process here is sort of obvious.

Joe was asked about the Draft on how much say the coaching staff will have on the draft picks made.

He said that it would be like the regular season in that he and Adam would talk to each other most days. He also included that position coaches would also have a say on certain prospects. No decision was going to be unilateral, but the final decision would be his alone.

Analysis

Really this is the most prudent approach to the Draft, and it is contrary to the Maccagnan drafts. The team gets 30 on site interviews with prospect, and many times the position coach will put the prospect through drills to see up close his skill set. It is wise to use all the tools in your toolbox on something as important as the Draft. You trust your position coaches to teach your players the right techniques so why not use their expertise to discern the possible worth of a prospect?

Since the final decision riding in Joe’s hands we will truly know the scope of his scouting acumen and his team building philosophies. Joe says the right things, but the Draft is where you prove it. We don’t want to get “Maccagnaned” again so we shall see.

Final Analysis

In the end most press conferences tell you little, but this GM may be more forthcoming than most. I liked most of what I heard yet I still don’t know about who holds the power which is a tad disconcerting.

It’s hard to think that the GM thinks the team made strides despite the 6-2 record in the second half of the year. The Jets don’t play Washington or the Giants every year, but there are always two games against the Patriots.

The Jets will never be anything until they can beat the Patriots, the Bills, and the Dolphins the majority of the time. To do so they have to be honest with themselves about who and what the Jets are. Bill Belichick may be a cheat and a curmudgeon, but he never lies to himself or his coaches on where the team is. He knows what needs to be fixed and works to fix it. The Jets need to follow that same course of action.

I love the philosophy that Joe has about culture.Iif he can be successful with that it will be a huge benefit to the Jets. It is easier said than done so we shall see.

Let us all hope Joe is successful in all his policies, and the Jets become what we all envision them to be; a champion.

That is how I see it.

What do you think?