The start of a new season typically brings hope and optimism. It also brings varying degrees pressure to prominent members of each organization. This week we are examining how much pressure key members of the Jets face this season. We continue the series today with Joe Douglas.
Joe Douglas is currently a very popular figure in the Jets fan base. His popularity might be second to only Sam Darnold. After years of losing and poor management the Jets hired an executive who seemed to be universally respected in the league to oversee their football operation.
Optimism is warranted. I myself am optimistic about Douglas. However, none of us really knows how effective he will be as Jets general manager. Most of the positivity is based on the opinions of others. This is the first time Douglas has ever had the final say over personnel. There is always a degree uncertainty when somebody takes a new job for the first time, no matter how respected he or she is.
Jets fans desperately want a great 2020 season to show that Douglas has this team moving in the right direction. In reality, however, I don’t think the 2020 result will tell us much about whether Douglas is the man to build the Jets for the long run.
While coaches are paid to focus on the here and now, the best general managers are focused on the long run. It would be nice to see the Jets have a 10 win season in 2020. The success or failure of Douglas’ signings in free agency will matter to a degree on his record.
Joe Douglas wasn’t hired to have a good season, though. He was hired to build the Jets into a consistent winner. The only way to do that is to draft effectively. The 2020 Jets will have only one Douglas Draft class, and that class will be acclimating to the NFL as rookies. Again while we will administer a progress report on the rookie class’ performance after the season, the success or failure of this group will not offer us a meaningful indication of how well Douglas drafts. We probably won’t have that until 2022 at the earliest.
The job is just too great to judge Douglas at the early stages of his tenure. Years of poor drafting by Mike Maccagnan left the new general manager essentially building from scratch aside from a handful of promising young building blocks. Maccagnan’s predecessor John Idzik even has to share some of the blame for the dire situation Douglas inherited. The Jets have no old reliables entering their seventh or eighth seasons to help stabilize the situation. Those are the players Idzik could have selected in 2013 or 2014.
While it is tempting to ascribe deep meaning to the Jets’ 2020 season for Douglas, history shows us why this thinking is faulty. Maccagnan was named Executive of the Year in his first season. He deserved it. He made a number of moves in free agency that worked out. His first Draft class showed promise as Leonard Williams played effectively, and even Lorenzo Mauldin showed some bullish signs. Let’s be honest. 95% of us loved Maccagnan after that first year.
Again, the job of general manager is not about one year. Maccagnan might have deserved that award, but an award based on one season of work is close to meaningless. Making a few effective short term signings ultimately doesn’t mean much, especially when the Draft picks from that class failed to make good on those early promising signs.
Jets fans also might remember the surprise 8-8 2013 season when, “Idzik is a genius,” and, “In Idzik I trust,” were common statements among Jets fans.
There will be a time to evaluate the job Joe Douglas is doing as Jets general manager. That time is in the future. We hope for success in 2020. Long-term future success is much more important, though.
Pressure Rate for 2020: Low