Jets: The 5 biggest mistakes that Joe Douglas made this offseason

New York Jets general manager Joe Douglas addresses the media during the introductory press conference for quarterback Aaron Rodgers (8) (not pictured) at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center
Tom Horak-USA TODAY Sports

The 2023 NFL season has been a roller coaster for the New York Jets. This season stings more than usual because this team has a top-five defense and special teams unit, but it is wasting those units.

Many are blaming coaching, which can’t be denied as the coaching has been awful. However, the main person who should be blamed for all of this is general manager Joe Douglas.

The Jets over-relied on Aaron Rodgers

It’s evident that both the team and Douglas over-relied on bringing in QB Aaron Rodgers. Douglas brought in many of Rodgers’ close friends who, unfortunately, haven’t contributed significantly to the team. There seemed to be no backup plan if Rodgers went down, leaving Zach Wilson, who struggled as the Jets’ quarterback last season, as the only option.

Wilson hasn’t shown signs of improvement and has remained ineffective at quarterback, resulting in the offense’s inability to score points.

It’s also clear that if Rodgers weren’t the QB, Nathaniel Hackett wouldn’t be the Jets’ offensive coordinator today. The playcalling has been consistently abysmal throughout the season. Hackett’s presence seems primarily due to his strong relationship with Rodgers

The Jets should’ve re-signed Mike White

Many fans feel as though the Jets chose not to start or re-sign Mike White because the organization knew that White was a better quarterback than Wilson. They seemingly wanted to validate their decision to draft Wilson second overall. Why else would they have started Joe Flacco over White seasons ago when Wilson got hurt in the preseason?

As time passed, it became evident that White outperformed Wilson as a quarterback. The Jets knew that White was better than Wilson and not re-signing him is a tremendous mistake.

The decision not to re-sign White as a precautionary measure has turned out to be a significant mistake for the Jets. Now, with White not on the team, the Jets lack a solid backup behind Wilson and are forced to rely on Trevor Siemian and Tim Boyle. Both are undependable options behind an already undependable quarterback in Wilson who is one of the biggest busts in New York Jets history.

The wide receiver signings have been disastrous

Corey Davis’s sudden retirement put the Jets in a bad spot at wide receiver. The hope was that the signings would pan out for the team in Allen Lazard, Mecole Hardman, and Randall Cobb, but they have been disappointing this season.

Lazard’s performance has been poor since joining the Jets. He’s had key drops, penalties, and inconsistency in offensive contributions. Also adding to the disappointment is his contract, which was signed for 4 years with a total value of $44 million dollars, with $22 million guaranteed.

Mecole Hardman has also been a disappointing signing. He may have signed a one-year deal worth $4 million dollars, but it ended up not working out. Once Xavier Gipson took his special teams job, he was pretty much useless on the team as the Jets just could not fit him anywhere on offense, thus his eventual trade back to the Chiefs.

Randall Cobb was another bad signing. He was just insurance that the team got Rodgers to begin with and while on the field he does not help, off the field he is a plus.

The Jets are wasting their first-round rookie

When looking back at the draft, it is still perplexing that the Jets decided to use a first-round draft pick on EDGE Will McDonald. The Jets have plenty of pass rushers on their team and it seems like a waste to use a first-round pick on a depth option when there were a ton of needs to fix on offense.

Plus, McDonald was a reach as many considered him to be a third-round prospect heading into this draft. There were many other players the Jets could have taken who would have made an instant impact, yet, the Jets decided to pick McDonald.

Now McDonald has gotten a sack, but he barely plays on defense. He is mostly utilized on special teams. While there is still time for McDonald to develop, that pick was absolutely wasted on a team that needs to win now in the Aaron Rodgers Era. Using that first-rounder on McDonald was a massive mistake.

Staying silent at the trade deadline

This is the point that greatly upset Jets fans about Douglas. Instead of making a move at the trade deadline to improve the offense, he chose to stay silent. There were two potential moves he could have made to enhance the team.

The first opportunity was to acquire Ezra Cleveland from the Vikings as the Jets needed help on the interior offensive line due to significant injuries to Joe Tippmann, Connor McGovern, and Wes Schweitzer.

Having Ezra Cleveland could have benefited the Jets, but they decided against pursuing him, and eventually, the Vikings traded Cleveland to the Jacksonville Jaguars for a sixth-round pick.

The second missed opportunity, which still frustrates many fans and analysts, was passing on acquiring QB Joshua Dobbs. While Dobbs has been a journeyman quarterback playing for several teams in recent years, it’s evident that he has performed better than Wilson.

The fact that the Cardinals were looking to trade Dobbs and were open to a late-round pick swap indicated an opportunity. The Jets’ decision not to explore the option of bringing in Dobbs remains a headscratcher, especially for a team with the potential to win now. This managerial decision rests on the manager.

The Jets are wasting a top-five defense and special teams

Numerous other examples exist, but these stand as the five most significant mistakes made by Jets GM Joe Douglas. These missteps have led to the underutilization of both a top-five defensive unit and a top-five special teams unit.

The recent loss against the Raiders has significantly reduced their chances of making the playoffs. It’s truly disheartening to witness the team’s struggles this year, making it seem like the season is almost lost.

There are now growing concerns not only about the Jets’ head coach but also about the competence of the team’s general manager. Heck, both Saleh and Douglas are clearly on the hot seat now and could lose their jobs depending on how things end this season.

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