It was more than 23 years ago that Bill Parcells made the infamous quote “If they want you to cook the dinner, at least they ought to let you shop for some of the groceries” as he left the Patriots to become the Jets Head Coach and General Manager. And if you’ve read my work before you’d know that I typically reference the 1997-2010 era of Jets Football as the “glory gears.” It’s no secret that Bill Parcells was the catalyst for those years of perpetual success (because to Jets fans perpetual is a relative term). There is no denying the success that the organization had during that run. In those 14 years, the Jets had 11 seasons where they finished 8-8 or better, made 7 playoff appearances and had 8 playoff wins. What would we give up for that kind of success again?
In the 10 seasons prior to 1997, the Jets had 7 losing seasons and one playoff appearance (albeit with an 8-8 record). And no one can forget the Rich Kotite years where the Jets went 4-28 in consecutive seasons. Does this drought sound familiar?The point is, it took a guy like Parcells to come in and shop for the right groceries to get this organization turned around. Parcells had the clear pedigree, the track record of success, and the vision to make it happen… and he did. While Parcells only coached the team for 3 years, and was GM for 4, the effect of his work was felt for long after that. Parcells turned the Jets from a laughingstock to a perennially competitive organization. The moves he made built the foundation of the team to set them up for success, even after he was gone. Through the draft (Shaun Ellis, Chad Pennington, Laveranues Coles, Randy Thomas), veteran additions (Curtis Martin, Vinny Testaverde), and even front office moves (Mike Tannenbaum), Parcells made moves that propelled the Jets to consistent, competent football.
The question becomes: Can Joe Douglas do the same? Douglas is far from what Parcells was when he came to the Jets, but his impact could be similar. And quite frankly, it needs to be. Douglas is following a myriad of missteps and band-aids that have been compounded by poor decisions and half-hearted attempts at competing. He is entering the 10th year of a playoff drought with one winning season sprinkled in, and the time has to be now for the tide to turn.
Douglas has the pedigree. He’s seen it done. He has worked for the best people in the best organizations. He’s won a championship. Douglas had a low bar to clear to be lauded by Jets fans and surpass every executive that came before him. All he had to do was draft an offensive lineman and sign a few others and we’re ready to crown him Executive of the Year. However, it doesn’t matter what his predecessors did, not anymore. What matters is how Douglas constructs this team. It matters how he allocates his resources and where he puts his stock. It matters what other executives he surrounds himself with and how he evaluates, drafts, and signs players.
And it will matter how he handles the Jamal Adams situation – which is not so different from Parcells’ dealing with Keyshawn Johnson. Johnson, unhappy with his contract and new Jets coach Al Groh, was moved to Tampa Bay in exchange for two first round picks. Those picks turned into Shaun Ellis and Anthony Becht. Can Douglas find a common ground with Adams and work out a lucrative deal to keep the league’s best safety happy in green and white? Or can he move him for a draft haul and maybe a playmaker for Sam Darnold?The Jets need Douglas to have a little (a lot) of Parcells in him. He needs to set the stage for the present and future of this team. The foundation that he builds now will determine the Jets getting the next set of “glory years” or continuing down the path of perpetual mediocrity.
It all comes down to the kinds of groceries that Douglas shops for and can bring home to Jets fans… we’re hungry.