In a game that saw the Jets personal losing streak to the Patriots reach fifteen games, the biggest Joe Douglas off-season blunders were on full display. Of course it starts with quarterback Zach Wilson who, despite having improved in some aspects of his game, just isn’t good enough right now. And the Jets have to accept the fact that he may never be.
The fact that Joe Douglas thought it would be a good idea to enter the season with Wilson as his backup quarterback was a colossal mistake. Especially with a 39-year-old starter in Aaron Rodgers. The decisions is reminiscent of the team’s similar gaffe in 1999. It was then that quarterback Vinny Testaverde ruptured his achilles in week 1. Without a viable second option, the Jets had to turn to punter Tom Tupa to play quarterback once Testaverde went down. Hall of Fame head coach Bill Parcells, with a Super Bowl ready roster, left himself little choice. Parcells was forced to go with the likes of Rick Mirer and converted college wide receiver Ray Lucas under center the rest of the way. The team with Super Bowl aspirations didn’t even make the playoffs.
And now Douglas, knowing Wilson was benched twice last season and would need tons of work before having any hopes of being a productive signal caller, will have two options.
- Sit and watch his team’s post-season hopes come crashing down before the season ever really takes off; or
- Trade a premium draft pick to a team who has fallen out of contention for their starter as the trade deadline nears.
Both could have been avoided had Douglas gone out and signed somebody to right the ship in the event of a Rodgers injury. Just yesterday, the underdog Colts were led to a victory by backup Gardner Minshew. A veteran with a career completion percentage of 63% who has thrown 45 touchdowns to just 15 interceptions. That type of play with the Jets could land Minshew in the Ring of Honor.
There were others options as well. Far from being guaranteed a starting job anywhere when free agency started, Baker Mayfield was on the market along with Andy Dalton. And when you’re as bad as Zach Wilson has been, there aren’t many (possibly any) quarterbacks you could rule out due to being inferior players. Douglas could have literally signed just about any free agent quarterback and it would have upgraded his QB2 spot. Well, except for maybe Tim Boyle, but even that’s up for debate at this point.
Aside from dropping the ball when it came to his quarterback depth chart, Douglas also flubbed the draft. Now this isn’t to say Joe Douglas didn’t pick good players in the draft, because he did. He just picked a lot of players that suggested the Jets didn’t need any immediate help in key spots. His class looks like one that said “we’re good for now, but we might need some help in 2024 and beyond”.
As we sit and watch Jets receivers get blanketed by opposing defensive backs, we’re reminded that Gang Green passed on a receiver who is currently second in the NFL in yards of separation per route in Jaxon Smith-Njigba. A player we felt was an obvious choice on draft day. By passing on a guy who would have been an every down contributor for an edge rusher who has been playing anywhere from zero to a dozen snaps through three weeks was a gross error in judgement. We expect the selection of Will McDonald to pay off in future seasons, but this season was supposed to be about this season.
And finally, handing $7 million guaranteed to Dalvin Cook appears to be another avoidable mistake that not only hinders the offense, but moves a player like Israel Abanikanda to the inactive list, rendering another draft pick useless up to this point.
Joe Douglas has had enough hits to keep him around beyond this season, but the 2024 offseason has to be better than the one that just passed.
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