NFL Teams
Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff Writer 38d

Early signs: Jets GM Joe Douglas has a plan, and Adam Gase likes it

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- A look at what's happening around the New York Jets:

1. Joe and the volcano? Joe Douglas looked a bit lost on Thursday night. Surrounded by his front-office lieutenants, he walked into the wrong room in the bowels of MetLife Stadium as he made his way to the locker room after the Jets' preseason opener. He quickly realized his mistake. Hey, it was new territory for him.

In terms of performing the duties of general manager, Douglas seems to know exactly where he's going. And this pleases coach Adam Gase, who, in case you haven't heard, didn't see eye-to-eye with the previous GM, Mike Maccagnan.

"He's very organized; he's very direct," Gase said of Douglas, who was hired in June. "He's done a great job as far as getting everybody on the same page. When things come up, there's a line of communication that it seems like nobody is caught off guard with anything. It's gone extremely smooth, coming in this late and being able to do all that. It's worked out well for us."

It's not hard to read between the lines. Gase didn't feel that simpatico with Maccagnan, which is why he advocated for Douglas. That's ancient history. What's relevant now is that Gase respects Douglas' ability to find players, although you would have to be naive to believe Gase isn't giving input. He's not the wallflower type.

Right now, Douglas is thriving in the Band-Aid business, covering wounds with temporary fixes -- i.e. the additions of center Ryan Kalil and guard Alex Lewis. The offensive line depth was an issue, and he addressed it with two low-risk moves. The bigger challenge will be in the offseason, when Kalil, Kelvin Beachum and Brandon Shell will be free agents and Kelechi Osemele's cap number increases to $11.7 million in the final year of his contract. Prepare for an overhaul.

"I think the fact that our GM is a former offensive lineman, I'm pretty sure you guys know that he's going to be looking for those type of guys," Gase said. "His type of linemen are tough, physical, smart guys that can play multiple positions and play both sides of the line. I think that's what he's going to be combing the earth for."

Gase is an offensive guy, and he believes offensive line and quarterback play are the keys to success. Maybe that explains his affinity for Douglas.

For now, Douglas is trying to find short-term solutions to vexing issues, including the worrisome lack of depth at cornerback. This approach isn't a revolutionary concept at One Jets Drive. Maccagnan had his flaws, but it's not like he sat on his hands the entire time. The Jermaine Kearse addition at the end of the 2017 preseason (part of the Sheldon Richardson trade) was a smart move that addressed a glaring need at wide receiver.

In the big picture, the important takeaway here is that Gase is down with Douglas, which allows him to focus on coaching, not personnel decisions (a power he held with the Miami Dolphins.)

"We see players pretty much the same," Gase said.

Maccagnan and former coach Todd Bowles used to say the same thing. That turned out to be lip service.

2. Kicking themselves: Douglas already has made one trade with one of his former teams, the Baltimore Ravens (see: Alex Lewis). Could it be two?

The Ravens are shopping kicker Kaare Vedvik, who is having a terrific preseason for the second straight season. Obviously, he's not going to unseat Justin Tucker, the most accurate kicker in NFL history, so the Ravens are looking to trade him for a draft choice.

Douglas should at least make an exploratory call, if he hasn't already, considering the way Chandler Catanzaro is struggling. He's the only kicker in camp (feel free to scratch your head), and it's time to bring in competition or make a bold move for a replacement.

The Jets had a Pro Bowl kicker last season in Jason Myers, and they made a financial decision to let him walk as a free agent. He signed a four-year, $15.5 million contract with the Seattle Seahawks, with an average-per-year ($3.9 million) that ranks 10th among kickers. The Jets' negotiating tactics really upset Myers, a source said, and now they're paying the price.

3. Darnold's new "zip" code: Quarterback Sam Darnold believes he has a little more zip on his passes than last season, and that could help him improve one of his shortcomings. He had the second-lowest completion percentage last season in the NFL throwing into tight windows (less than one yard of separation at time of target), based on a minimum of 30 attempts.

He completed only 22.2% of those throws, according to NFL Next Gen Stats. The only player with a lower percentage was Josh Allen (13.6%), whom Darnold will face in Week 1. This might surprise some folks, but Lamar Jackson was ahead of his two fellow rookies (26.7%).

Arm strength isn't everything, though. Look at Allen. He has a cannon, but that obviously didn't help him. Accuracy and anticipation also are huge factors when trying to complete tight-window throws.

4. Under-the-radar battles: The Jets don't have any starting jobs open, per se, but they have some competitive areas. For instance:

  • RB3 and RB4: It's Bilal Powell versus Elijah McGuire versus Trenton Cannon. Powell has the best résumé, but McGuire and Cannon have the young legs. I'm predicting Powell and Cannon, who is the fastest player on the team and very good on kick coverage.

  • WR5 and WR6: Charone Peake, Deontay Burnett, Tim White and Greg Dortch are among the leading candidates. If special teams is the tiebreaker, Peake and Dortch (punt returner) will have the edge.

  • TE2 and TE3: With starter Chris Herndon facing a four-game suspension, this becomes an important decision. Ryan Griffin is running ahead of Daniel Brown and Eric Tomlinson.

  • CB4: There aren't any attractive options, which came shining through in the opener. Maybe Douglas can convince Adam "Pacman" Jones to come out of retirement. (Kidding.) Cornerback depth is vital for defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who used more than four DBs on 67% of the snaps last season with the Cleveland Browns, per NFL Next Gen Stats.

5. New and (a lot) younger Josh: Trevor Siemian is only 27, but he's the old guy in the quarterback room. The elder statesman last season was Josh McCown, 40, an invaluable resource for Darnold. To say the dynamic has changed would be an understatement.

"I can't be Josh McCown," Siemian said. "Those are big shoes to fill. I'm just trying to give Sam everything I can. I'm more than happy to help him out."

Siemian has a McCown-like attitude in that he knows it's Darnold's team, and it's his job to support him. But that doesn't mean he's cool with being a backup the rest of his life.

"I want to play," said Siemian, who started 24 games for the Denver Broncos in 2016 and 2017. "I can speak for everybody: You're not going to last long in this business if you think you're going to be riding in the back seat for your whole career."

Siemian, who played efficiently in the preseason opener, has the No. 2 job locked down.

6. Random rant: Le'Veon Bell needs to get a few carries in the preseason. ... As I said on draft day, the Jets should have picked Chase Winovich instead of Jachai Polite. Winovich (1.5 sacks) flashed in the New England Patriots' opener. ... I knew Gase was intense, but smelling salts on the sideline? ... The clock is ticking on quarterback Davis Webb. ... There was no practice Friday and Saturday. Modern NFL training camps are Club Med.

7. Last word: "His sideline demeanor and his on-the-field demeanor, they're awesome. He's calm. I thought, just watching him on the field, he'd relay the call in, get the guys lined up. He was just flatline. And then he played so fast, so it was just getting the calls in as fast as possible so he could go to work." -- Gase on his first game experience with Darnold.

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