PHOENIX – Joe Douglas is very familiar with the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Jets general manager spent three years as Philly general manager Howie Roseman’s right-hand man and won a Super Bowl with the Eagles before Christopher Johnson hired him to take over the Jets. As you watch the Eagles, you can see some of the principles that Douglas preached with the Jets. The Eagles have built the most talented roster in football under Roseman. If Douglas can apply the same principles with the Jets and get some luck along the way, maybe the Jets can end their Super Bowl drought.
Here are the biggest themes you see in how Roseman built the Eagles and how Douglas is trying to apply them to the Jets:
Dominate the line of scrimmage.
The Eagles have the best defensive line in football and perhaps the best offensive line. They have pushed people in these playoffs. The Eagles led the NFL with 70 sacks during the regular season and had four players with double-digit sacks. On offense, the line dominates. In the divisional round against the Giants, the Eagles’ line opened up big holes in the running game and gave Jalen Hurts time to work in the passing game.
Douglas has done a good job building the Jets’ defensive line, which is key to coach Robert Saleh’s defense. The Jets can throw waves of D-linemen at teams. Quinn Williams, Carl Lawson, Sheldon Rankins and John Franklin Myers lead the way, and young players like Bryce Huff, Jermaine Johnson and Michael Clemons also play roles. The Jets had 45 sacks that season, far fewer than the Eagles’ total, and only Williams reached double figures with 12. Douglas needs to continue to look for Williams to step up and add to that group. Roseman added Hassan Reddick this offseason despite already having a strong group. Saleh has said that the jets will never stop adding to the D-line.
The offensive line rebuild hasn’t gone well for Douglas, but it’s not for lack of trying. He has used two first-round picks on the line with Mekhi Becton in 2020 and Alijah Vera Tucker in 2021. He threw big money at Tomlinson in free agency last offseason. Vera Tucker looks like a stud, but suffered a season-ending triceps injury in October. Becton hasn’t pitched in two years. Tomlinson played well at a lower level than the Jets expected.
Douglas will likely acquire a center and a tackle in free agency and/or the draft this offseason. This unit still needs a lot of support. The Jets will have to hope Vera Tucker returns to 100 percent and Becton gets his career back on track. There are a lot of “ifs” with the offensive line.
Roseman took Carson Wentz with the No. 2 overall pick in 2016. Douglas took Zach Wilson with the No. 2 overall pick in 2021.
Roseman admitted his mistake with Wentz and traded him after the 2020 season. Hurts took over in 2021 and had a strong 2022 season en route to leading the Eagles to the Super Bowl.
The Jets aren’t entirely willing to admit that Wilson was a bad pick. Give them credit for not sticking with him as the starter in 2023. He is clearly headed to the bench. But the Jets are still talking about Wilson’s bright future and how they can still develop him. At some point, probably next offseason, the Jets will have to rip off the Band-Aid and cut or trade Wilson. It seems highly unlikely he’ll find success with the Jets, and the team needs to eventually move on — just like Roseman did with Wentz.
Explore every avenue.
When it comes to building a roster, there is always a lot of focus on free agency and the first wave of the NFL Draft. But Roseman did a fantastic job of using every avenue available to improve his roster in the offseason. He used free agency to acquire Redick on a three-year, $45 million deal. Redick had 16 sacks in the regular season and dominated the postseason. Roseman made a huge trade on draft night, landing wide receiver AJ Brown from the Titans to help his young quarterback. He then landed an immediate impact player in defensive end Jordan Davis and added depth in the draft. In post-draft free agency, Roseman signed cornerback James Bradbury to a decent contract after the Giants cut him. He then ended up trading for safety Chauncey Gardner Johnson on Cutdown Day.
You can see Roseman’s influence on Douglas in how he approaches offensively in the offseason. It’s just that some of his moves haven’t worked. He has been active in the early parts of free agency the past two years. Carl Lawson, Corey Davis, Tomlinson, Jordan Whitehead, C.J. Ozoma and Tyler Conklin arrived that way. Douglas spent the early part of his tenure trading away players to gain draft capital. But he showed last year that he will be aggressive when he pursued Tyreke Hill from the Chiefs. He lost to the Dolphins, but Douglas showed he’s not afraid to swing big. This year, he may have to do so to land at quarterback. Douglas had a strong draft last year after mixed results in his first two drafts with the Jets. In post-draft free agency, Douglas has added Morgan Moses, Dwayne Brown and Kwon Alexander over the past two years. Franklin Myers and Braxton Berrios arrived that way in 2019, and Quincy Williams was picked up in 2021.
You can clearly see Roseman’s influence on Douglas’ approach to team building. Douglas needs to have a strong offseason and land at quarterback. But Jets fans should be encouraged that the Eagles’ approach has worked so successfully this season because Douglas has shown many of the same beliefs as Roseman.
Takeaways from a Week 2 rematch
I recently rewatched the Jets’ crazy 31-30 win over the Browns in Week 2. Here are some tips to revisit the game now:
1. It was very clear how much better Garrett Wilson and Bryce Hall played in this game than the opener and how much the coaches used them, especially Wilson. Wilson caught two touchdown passes, including the game-winner, and showed off his versatility. The Jets barely used him in Week 1 for some reason. After looking shaky and tentative at times in Week 1, Hall looked like a more confident runner. The Jets were still happy with Joe Flacco in the game, but Hall showed signs of that coming in October.
2. It was the worst game the Jets defense played all season. He gave up a season-high 405 yards and allowed 184 rushing yards, which would be his second most allowed on the year. It just took a few early-season kinks to work out. There was confusion in the secondary. Sous Gardner might want to insist that he didn’t give up a touchdown in his rookie season, but it was clear that he missed his assignment on the Amari Cooper touchdown. Tackling was poor and run defense was non-existent for stretches. But the Jets quickly fixed those issues in the following weeks.
3. The Jets were very lucky to win this game. It was an all-timer. The Browns could have run out the clock, but scored a touchdown instead. The Browns didn’t cover to give up a long touchdown to Corey Davis. The Jets recovered an onside kick. A lot of things went his way. If the Jets had lost this game, things could have gotten ugly. They would have gone 0-2 and faced the Bengals a week later. Saleh had just made his “receipts” comment, and fans would have been outraged. It wasn’t a pretty win, but it ended the Jets’ multi-year September losing streak and gave the team some early hope.
The status is like this.
The Jets haven’t had a quarterback throw for 10 or more touchdown passes in a season since 2019, when Sam Darnold had 19. He hasn’t had a QB throw of 20 or more since 2015, when Ryan Fitzpatrick threw a franchise-record 31. The touchdown passes. That’s a big reason why the Jets are searching for a quarterback again. They are hoping for someone to land on the list or even top it. Here are the top 10 touchdown passing seasons by a Jets quarterback:
1. Ryan Fitzpatrick, 2015: 31
2. Vinny Testaverde, 1998: 29
T-3. Mark Sanchez, 2011: 26
T-3. Joe Namath, 1967: 26
T-3. Aldoro, 1960: 26
T-6. Ken O’Brien, 1986: 25
T-6. Ken O’Brien, 1985: 25
T-6. Richard Todd, 1981: 25
T-9. Brett Favre, 2008: 22
T-9. Chad Pennington, 2002: 22
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