Wednesday, July 28

Joe Douglas has to nail the tricky part of Jets rebuild – New York Post

You have to wonder what opposing coaches are thinking when they start scouting the Jets before they face them. Usually, coaches would go through a team’s strengths, what they need to take away from a team, what players they need to be worried about.

With the Jets, that could lead to a lot of silence.

The lack of talent on the Jets roster is stark right now. That should not be a surprise for an 0-10 team, but it is driven home every week the Jets take the field. The Jets are playing and starting players who should probably be on a practice squad somewhere. They have less talent than a middle school play.

This is the task that now faces general manager Joe Douglas. The easy part will be drafting Trevor Lawrence if the Jets do end up with the No. 1 pick. Finding a new coach will be key, but also should be doable with the right process in place. The real trick that Douglas now faces is doing a roster overhaul.

A decade of bad drafts and bad free-agent decisions has left the Jets here. This season has to be rock bottom, right? It can’t get worse than this.

Douglas has set the Jets up for success by loading up on draft picks (nine in each of the next two drafts) and getting the salary cap in order. The Jets are projected to have more than $80 million in cap space.

That gives Douglas flexibility. If the plan starts with drafting Lawrence, the next line better be to give him a support system. We’ll never know what Sam Darnold might have been had the Jets properly supported him. Darnold has thrown to 20 different wide receivers in his time with the Jets, most of them forgettable. Add in running backs and tight ends and Darnold has thrown to 38 different players. There has been no continuity for Darnold and very few playmakers around him.

Look at the way the Jets drafted before and after taking Darnold. The team took three wide receivers in the two drafts before they selected Darnold, none higher than the third round. ArDarius Stewart was that third-rounder and was a known character risk when the Jets drafted him. After taking Darnold, former GM Mike Maccagnan took tight end Chris Herndon in the fourth round of that same 2018 draft and tight end Trevon Wesco in 2019, but did not take any wide receivers. Douglas began fixing that error by taking Denzel Mims in the second round this year.

It is not like the Jets have made up for those draft failings in free agency. Jamison Crowder was a good signing last year, but that is about it.

Then, you get to the offensive line where Mekhi Becton was the first lineman the Jets drafted in the first two rounds in a decade. The neglect on the line has led to Darnold getting sacked 82 times in his career. There are 10 quarterbacks who have been sacked more than him since he entered the league in 2018, but all of them have played in more games.

The Jets holes are not just on offense, of course. They desperately need an edge rusher who can win one-on-one battles and cornerbacks who can slow down opposing passing attacks. Sunday’s display by the Chargers underscored this. Keenan Allen may have just caught another pass.

Douglas will not be able to fill every hole this offseason. He had some missteps in free agency last offseason, but his first draft class is promising, starting with Becton and Mims.

Now, Douglas could have the chance to draft a generational talent in Lawrence. That won’t be the hard part. Surrounding Lawrence with enough additional talent will be.

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