My Christmas Wish List for GM Joe Douglas

Stephen Russo with an offseason wish list for Joe Douglas and the New York Jets

‘Tis the season for giving. But, in the world of a Jets fan, ‘tis the season for wishing. While this roller coaster of a year winds down and results in a way that many of us feared it would, the offseason is right around the corner and our wish list is growing. For far too many years, the March through August stretch has been the most exciting time for Jets fans. The hope builds, the “on paper” discussions begin, and the actual play on the field isn’t given the chance to crush our dreams.

This feeling is all too familiar, but as the calendar turns to 2020 the Jets fanbase will have something to look forward to that they haven’t had in, well, forever… an undeniable blind faith in a General Manager. You’d have to go back to Bill Parcells to find a hire that was as universally accepted among Jets fans. That correlation is fitting because new GM Joe Douglas will be tasked with doing exactly what Bill Parcells did more than 20 years ago: propelling this organization out of mediocrity.

As the holidays quickly approach, I have given it my best shot at an offseason wish list for Jets new General Manager, Joe Douglas. Here we go!

This team is a blank canvas, but don’t forget about the past. Learn from it. There is no question that this team provides Douglas with a clean slate that he can certainly build from the ground up, his way. While the popular belief would be to look at it with a fresh eye and let go of all preconceived notions, my suggestion would actually be the opposite. Look at the mistakes that were made by your predecessors, and learn. Consistent neglect and lack of investment in premium positions has led to periodic band-aids being placed and the problems never being truly fixed. Recognize the issues that led to the demise of this franchise, and invest in areas that lead to building competitive organizations. Realize that often the best answers are found with balance, that draft strategies don’t have to be best player available or biggest area of need. They’re often a marriage of the two, where your need meets top talent. And don’t even think about taking an interior defensive lineman.

Build an offensive line. Invest heavily in the offensive line through every avenue. Draft 2 or 3 linemen. Go get Brandon Scherff or Anthony Castonzo. Sign both! This line needs an overhaul and it will only happen if premium capital (both draft & FA) is invested in this group. When you take a look back at what I routinely like to call the “Glory Years” of Jets fandom (1997-2010) you realize how consistently good their offensive lines were. They invested heavily in the position through free agency (Kevin Mawae, Pete Kendall, Alan Faneca, Damien Woody), premium draft picks (D’Brickashaw Fergusion, Nick Mangold, Randy Thomas) and also hit later in the draft (Kareem McKenzie, Jason Fabini, Brandon Moore (UDFA)) which enabled them to be a competitive team during that span. That needs to be replicated to start building success.

Find an edge rusher. The days of John Abraham are long gone, and Calvin Pace is probably with him. At this point, I think we’d all welcome Calvin back to set the edge. Jordan Jenkins is a fine player, but this team needs a game-changer. As stated in my first wish, the same methodology of building a strong interior defensive line is fine for having a top ranked rush defense, but it doesn’t help you sack the quarterback and clearly doesn’t help you stack wins. Don’t even touch the defensive line this offseason, they’ll be just fine. Go find a speed rusher or two who can get to the quarterback and make an impact play every game that swings momentum.

Stop drafting old guys. That’s it. That’s the wish.

Invest in cornerbacks. Darrelle Revis. Antonio Cromartie. Aaron Glenn. Marcus Coleman. Ray Mickens. Cover corners like this make your defense better. In today’s game, it’s hard to overcome bad corner play, especially when you compound that with no pass rush. It looks like Brian Poole was a great signing, keep him. Bless Austin looks to be a pleasant surprise (if injuries don’t show up). Don’t stop there. Sign a few in free agency and draft a few. Build depth at positions where it’s needed.

Stop drafting players with novels for injury histories. See old guys wish.

Get a true #1 receiver. If Amari Cooper becomes available, go sign him. Take a swing in round 2 or round 3 at a wide receiver in a deep class. Get more explosive weapons for Sam Darnold to have in his arsenal. Get weird. Score points. Win games.

Keep Le’Veon. Don’t trade Jamal. Re-sign Robby. These three are game changing players that deserve a place on this team. Le’Veon Bell behind a more quality offensive line is a dangerous weapon that Sam Darnold needs and Adam Gase needs to design uses for. Bell has been outstanding with limited opportunity this year. What he would be able to do behind an improved offensive line and with additional weapons outweighs the pick you would get in return for him. Jamal Adams, albeit at a typical non-premium position, is a game-changing player and has single-handedly won two games for the Jets this year. He has made his position premium. Robby Anderson has shown that he is a talented, versatile receiver that has made improvements and has a rapport with Darnold. Keep him and find a true #1 WR to play alongside him. A starting offense with a good addition at WR1, Anderson, Bell, Crowder, Herndon and Griffin would be formidable. These three deserve to be Jets. Let’s keep it that way.

Prove us right, Joe. Prove that our blind faith in The Mountain (GoT reference) is warranted. Take the simple, common sense approach to the offseason and utilize your capital on positions that matter. Invest every amount of space you have on offensive linemen, corners, playmakers, and edge rushers. You have the quarterback, now build around him. And don’t let Gase get in the way.

You can turn this thing around, quickly. No big deal.