The longer your Jets fandom tenure, the more opportunity you have to draw lines of similarity between past coaches, players, games, or seasons altogether. How many of us have uttered the words “I’ve seen this movie before” while watching a Jets game? I’d be willing to wager it’s a high percentage. The current playoff drought has us all clamoring for change and hoping that history doesn’t repeat itself, even though the worst fears of Jets fans seem to always become reality.
2013 was a strange year for the Jets. A talent deficient roster led by a young quarterback endures the ups and downs of a roller coaster season to finish 8-8 and completely overachieve by everyone’s standards and expectations. Unexpected quality wins were followed by clunkers, road wins were hard to come by, and the weekly unpredictability of which team would show up was at an all time high. Oh, and the Head Coach was showered with Gatorade for finishing the season at .500. Sound familiar? Well, everything except for the Gatorade bath.
That 2013 season feels eerily similar to 2019, and something that can strike fear into the hearts of Jets fans. There are, however, two BIG differences that Jets fans have to hold on to: Sam Darnold is better than Geno Smith, and Joe Douglas is not John Idzik.
Allow me to focus on the latter. Following the 2013 season, John Idzik’s plan for the offseason was always unclear. Was he trying to tank and realizing that the team needed a true rebuild and overhaul? Or was he fooled by the 2013 success and duped into believing that this team did not need much to turn the corner? Either way, Idzik’s lack of a plan and implementation fell completely on it’s face. Some highlights from that offseason were the Idzik 12, the Dmitri Patterson experiment, and inexplicably letting Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie walk out of the Jets facility and to the crosstown rival Giants. That 2014 team ended up going 4-12 and cost both Idzik and Rex Ryan their jobs.
Let’s turn our attention towards 2019. A talent deficient team led by a young quarterback overcomes injuries across the board to win 6 of their last 8 games and somehow make it to a 7-9 record. It’s like I’ve seen this movie before! (You see what I did there?) I don’t think its hard to see how both of those seasons correlate, but truth be told, that doesn’t matter. What matters is if the guy who is leading the charge, Joe Douglas, is worthy of the blind faith that most Jets fans have in him. Douglas, with the lineage, resume, and his supposed belief on how to build a perennial winner, needs to not be fooled by the success of the 2019 Jets. Give credit to a team for overcoming what they did and winning the games in front of them down the stretch. But be realistic in your assessment, and realize that despite the fact that it wasn’t your fault, you are paying for the mistakes of the General Managers before you, and this team needs to be competitive.
The Jets have needs. Plenty of them. They need offensive linemen, weapons for Darnold, an edge rusher, and cornerbacks. Don’t be satisfied with only Jamison Crowder as your primary target for Darnold. Don’t believe that Gregg Williams can continue to manufacture sacks with Jordan Jenkins and Jamal Adams. Don’t allow the snippet of success that we saw from Bless Austin fool you into thinking he is an immediate 2020 starter. Douglas needs to recognize the needs and invest heavily in those areas. Attack them with aggression. Take multiple swings in free agency and the draft. Invest in the offense and in your young quarterback. Build for success around him and arm him with talented options.
We are a week away from free agency and a month away from the draft. I, like many Jets fans, really look forward to this time of year. But I’m tired of this being the most exciting time of the football season for me.
Is Douglas the guy to change that? If he is, he needs to learn from the litany of mistakes made by his predecessors. It’s time for this team to do things the right way. It’s time to put focus in the right areas.
The time is now, Joe Douglas. Build us a winner.