The Jets are 0-5 with a possible 0-16 record on the horizon. They are poorly coached, talent-depleted, hurt, and have the second hardest remaining schedule (win %). That said, Joe Douglas has a vision. Giving the Jets the benefit of doubt is ill-advised, but Douglas’ resume suggests he has a plan in store, and his recent decisions have all but revealed it.
Whether Douglas says it or not, the Jets are actively tanking. They have no intention of competing this season. Douglas refrained from trading for disgruntled Bears WR Allen Robinson, among other moves, before the looming deadline. This is the type of decision that could help support Sam Darnold. (See Allen/Diggs, Kyler/Hop, etc.) But at this point, are the Jets really trying to provide for Darnold? Releasing Le’Veon Bell mid-season and eating the majority of his contract says no.
Saving cap space, refraining to spend on help for Sam, and other telling moves, (Playing Alec Ogletree over Avery Williamson to avoid pay incentives), show that the Jets are looking forward to 2021, and Trevor Lawrence is Douglas’ guy.
The Jets have their eyes on the #1 pick. And with the #1 pick comes Lawrence. He is widely regarded as the best QB prospect in years. The hype around him is comparable to that of Peyton Manning, circa 1998. I’m repeatedly on record saying “generational” is overused and cringy, but it might be applicable when talking about Lawrence.
General Managers spend the majority of their lives working to get to their position. And it’s not other-worldy to assume said GM wants his own guy behind center (James Kuntz, TOJ). Douglas inherited Darnold from Maccagnan, and he isn’t necessarily tied to him (as much as it hurts me to say). The Jets have four 1st round picks and a ransom of 2nd and 3rds over the next two drafts. Douglas wants to build the team HIS way. And the Jets have the ammunition to do it. Douglas took an offensive approach in his first Jets draft, and one can only hope he’ll continue to do so in the next few.
Adam Gase will not be the Jets head coach in 2021 (God-willing). As much as every Jets fan wants him fired immediately (me included), keeping him around for the remainder of 2020 might actually be productive in the race to the #1 pick. If bitter ownership gives Douglas autonomy in the coaching search, he’ll have the opportunity to pair Lawrence with whomever he wants. There will be plenty of intriguing, upcoming and ACTUAL forward-thinking head coach candidates, and if Douglas makes the right pick, the Jets could be set up for success for a long time.
Put shortly, I’m far from giving up on Sam. He’s still just 23, and has worked with virtually nothing his entire career. Maybe a late year spark changes the direction the project is heading. Using the surplus of picks and money to build around him is another viable option. But all signs are pointing to Douglas taking another direction.