Joe Douglas has presence.
And a burly, imposing frame to match.
He also has a burgeoning list of new responsibilities, starting with turning around the wayward New York Jets.
It’s no wonder Jets CEO Christopher Johnson couldn’t stop grinning as he introduced the newest member of the hierarchy.
For the third time in six years, the organization ushered in a new general manager, touting his impressive credentials and explaining why this guy is the “right” guy and just what the Jets need right now.
“This is a good day,” Johnson beamed at Tuesday’s news conference in the auditorium of the team’s Florham Park, New Jersey, facility. “This is really a good day.”
The Jets have every reason to be all smiles. They lured a widely respected football executive to the quiet suburbs of the Garden State and away from the Philadelphia Eagles, a franchise that won the Super Bowl only two seasons ago. And, at least for now, the Jets have quieted the questions surrounding their sudden status of instability while allaying concerns over their lack of foresight and direction.
“We’re going to find passionate people that love the game of football, that hate losing more than they love winning,” said Douglas, who has worked his way up the ranks from area scout to vice president of player personnel during a career that included stints in Baltimore and Chicago. “That love to prepare, that love to practice, that love to compete. Players that are football-smart, they’re strategic thinkers that aren’t going to beat themselves.
“To Jets nation: You’re getting a general manager that is a relentless worker, someone that understands a winning culture, someone that is going to strive to put a product on the field each Sunday that competes for greatness and I hope will make you proud.”
Douglas was more than comfortable in the spotlight Tuesday, but perhaps more importantly, he was able to easily and effectively communicate his vision for the future.
On the surface, he possesses everything his predecessor, Mike Maccagnan, lacked. And the leadership vacuum that long existed beneath ownership appears to have been filled by two strong personalities: head coach Adam Gase and Douglas, who worked together with the Bears during the 2015 season.
“Simply stated: Joe is the right person at the right time, who our fan base will get to know and love,” Johnson said, reading a prepared statement. “I feel that we now have the right people in charge of our football operation.”
In 2013, a “thorough and careful” search led team owner Woody Johnson to former general manager John Idzik, whose football acumen and pedigree he once extolled in similar fashion.
“After interviewing John Idzik, it became apparent to us that he was head and shoulders the best fit for the New York Jets,” Woody Johnson told reporters that January day. “It’s not only his demeanor and the way he speaks, it’s also his experience.”
Two years later, Idzik was dismissed and the Maccagnan era was introduced, along with the appointment of head coach Todd Bowles.
“Mike has the experience, 20 years as a college evaluator, a professional evaluator. We were very impressed with his intelligence, his differentiation of players and the detailed way he goes about that process,” Woody Johnson explained at the time.
Johnson’s younger brother fired Bowles at the end of the 2018 but retained Maccagnan to oversee the hiring of Bowles’ replacement, free agency spending and the NFL draft.
Maccagnan was then fired on May 15.
It’s always the organizations that fail to win consistently and the teams that are known best for dysfunction that are most sensitive to criticism. It’s always the teams that never get out of their own way that most vehemently want the benefit of the doubt.
So, let’s give the Jets what they deserve in this moment: applause for hiring who they believe is the “right” guy to turn around their long-downtrodden franchise, an executive well-respected in league circles.
The power structure will be the same as it was before with Maccagnan and Bowles, with Douglas and Gase reporting directly to ownership. But the organization is confident this pairing will produce better results than the Maccagnan-Bowles partnership or the short-lived Maccagnan-Gase experiment.
Douglas’ existing relationship with Gase and their shared vision to rebuild the franchise was one reason the Jets brass was so impressed with the ex-Eagles personnel man.
Collaboration will be a popular buzzword at 1 Jets Drive this season.
“He’s a consensus builder, an effective communicator who is not afraid to share his opinion,” Christopher Johnson said of Douglas. “When he believes in something, he will let you know.”
The union of Douglas, Gase and the Jets signals a new beginning. And like the Eagles, the Jets believe they have a young franchise quarterback whom they can build around and win with: 22-year-old Sam Darnold.
It’s a new day in Florham Park, filled with happiness and unwavering hope. No one enters into a marriage expecting it to fail. But as we’ve seen time and time again with this franchise: First impressions eventually wear thin.
Christopher Johnson believes he finally has the right people in charge of football operations. Now, allow them to do what they were hired to do and let them prove Johnson’s words correct.
Stand aside so proper communication and cooperation can flow from the second floor of the building to the first, from Douglas’ office down to Gase and his coaching staff.
Allow the “football people” to make football decisions that will enhance the roster and not just sell seats.
For years, the Jets’ general managers and head coaches didn’t have the collaborative working relationship they professed to have publicly. And Christopher Johnson is running out of time before big brother Woody returns from his ambassador duties overseas.
Fifty years have passed since the Jets won the Super Bowl, and they haven’t made the playoffs in nearly a decade. For the sake of the fans, hopefully the Jets have put the right pairing together.
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