New York Jets – Assessing the Culture

Dylan Price dives into the current culture of the New York Jets

Last week prior to his trade, Jamal Adams granted the Daily News and exclusive in which he didn’t mince words on the state of the Jets franchise. From shots at the ownership, general manager and even coach, Adams let it all fly. All though Adams may be gone, the Jets floundering culture is a much more deeply rooted issue.

Ownership

The Jets ownership has never been the best in sports. Unlike other teams, the Johnsons are more reluctant to pull the trigger on certain deals and tend to choose the wrong people to make up the staff. It’s become increasingly more apparent over recent years that both Johnson brothers lack the capacity to steer this ship in the right direction. Now, Woody Johnson, the longtime face of the team has come under fire. As allegations are being brought against his character and integrity, it doesn’t paint a good image for the Jets organization. Christopher Johnson has tried to reinvigorate the franchise with new uniforms and fresh decision makers. His biggest issue though, is lacking the football acumen to lead a franchise. Yes, he was a part of the reason Joe Douglas came to New York, but Adam Gase was a much bigger part. Even Gase himself was a move made on Peyton Manning’s recommendation. A guy, who, albeit a legend, has no affiliation to the Jets franchise whatsoever.

The biggest issue with this ownership, is the structure. Typically the coach reports to the general manager and they work in tandem. The Jets unorthodox layout leads the coach and general manager to report to Chris Johnson himself. The Jets ownership is incredibly flawed and although I won’t chant “SELL THE TEAM”, I’d strongly IMPLY that the Johnsons leave the football decisions to the next man.

General Manager: Joe Douglas

Leave the football to Joe. Joe Douglas is the reason this team has any hope. He was handed a hefty deal to join this franchise and right the ship. He’s done it elsewhere, and he is set to do it here. As a talent evaluator, he’s talented, but as a people evaluator, he’s out of this world. Douglas is able to not only dominate negotiations, but also get a feel on who can establish a culture. By targeting former college capitals with 5 of his last 6 picks, it’s apparent Douglas wants leaders who will give their all to the organization. Currently the Jets lack those kind of players and have long lacked a front office staff that recognizes that culture is more important than past production. Douglas still has a lot of time ahead of him, and he can’t be perfect forever, but at least to this point, he’s the reason the Jets are afloat.

The Coach

Maybe the area that Adams harped on most in his tirade, and rightfully so. The coach of any franchise in any professional sport should follow one fundamental principle, earn respect, don’t command it. By walking into the locker room and having other coaches deliver speeches when your team needs YOU most, you lose respect of the players. When you lose that respect, instances like the Jamal one occur. Yes, a culture change shouldn’t be all on the coach’s shoulders, but in this case, the coach is egotistical and reluctant to change. From the smallest scale of not budging on fines for injured players, to the much larger scale of avoiding adjustments because you fail to admit YOUR plan is wrong, it is evident Gase is part of the issue. Some players love Gase, just like some players loved Todd Bowles. Yet, the only difference between the two is their temperament. Where Bowles tended to get walked all over, Gase tends to ship players out if they won’t conform. That’s exactly why guys like Peyton Manning, Frank Gore and Danny Amendola respect Gase. Gase is no nonsense, but sometimes needs to loosen the reigns. In the same context, Bowles needed to tighten his reigns.

Until the Jets find a coach capable of admitting his mistakes and balancing being stern but fair, they will toll in mediocrity. The Jets have continued to target the wrong guys to lead the coaching staff and that shows. Rather than target proven leaders, the Jets last two picks were coordinators who evidently have failed to successfully transition to being a head coach.

Conclusion

To wrap this up, typically when they say a culture changes at the top, that means ownership. In this case, the ownership won’t change for a long time unless these allegations are deemed credible and of that level of severity. So, this floundering culture lands on Joe Douglas’s shoulders. The league wide respect that he has earned and what he’s done so far have built him lofty expectations. Yet, for some reason he seems like the best bet to handle them. As for Gase, he has a two year window essentially. If he can show improvement in some sense this year, he will get a 3rd shot. If he fails to show growth, the Johnsons and the front office need to search to find a proven leader, who can handle a locker room. Most of all, they need to find someone who can help right the ship.