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Five questions facing the Jets this offseason

Sam Darnold of the New York Jets against

Sam Darnold of the New York Jets against the Las Vegas Raiders at MetLife Stadium on Dec. 6, 2020. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Adam Gase took the fall for the Jets’ 2-14 record this season, but that blemish also goes on general manager Joe Douglas’ resume.

He didn’t hire Gase, but he helped assemble the roster that registered the second-worst record in franchise history.

"I certainly could have done a better job of putting this roster together, helping the staff, helping this team succeed," Douglas said.

Now the real work starts for Douglas. Here are the five most pressing things facing Douglas and the Jets this offseason:

Find the right coach

The Jets already have a vision for who they want – someone very different than Gase. His hiring, by CEO Christopher Johnson, was a mistake. Gase was too focused on the offense and is not a great leader of men.

Douglas is leading the search for a great leader, communicator and an overall manager, who can build a winning culture.

Among the candidates are Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, who spent 12 years working with Bill Belichick on both sides of the ball, and has done a great job with the Buffalo’s offense and developing quarterback Josh Allen. Kansas City offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy also has a strong pedigree, having coached the past eight years under Andy Reid and working closely with Patrick Mahomes.

Douglas said the Jets would "cast a very wide net." He has to get this hire right.

Make a decision on Sam Darnold

This one could linger until around the draft, and the new coach will have plenty of say in it.

Darnold hasn’t developed to the point where Douglas can say with certainty that he’s the Jets quarterback going forward. Gase was hired to develop Darnold and he regressed, finishing this season with nine touchdown passes and 11 interceptions. Douglas also didn’t give Darnold enough weapons.

It’s very possible Darnold already has played his final game as a Jet. But if the new coach believes he can work with Darnold and make him the QB the Jets hoped he would become, then he could return.

Build through the draft

Douglas needs to be the anti-Mike Maccagnan. Douglas appeared to have a good first draft as Jets GM. This one has to be better.

The Jets lost out on the No. 1 pick and Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence by winning late in the season, but they will have plenty of options with the No. 2 pick and flexibility to be very active. Douglas currently has nine picks, including two in the first round and five in the first three.

If the Jets decide to draft a quarterback (Justin Fields, Zach Wilson) and move on from Darnold, they’ll acquire more draft capital. If they keep him, they could use the early picks on an offensive lineman (Penei Sewell) or a receiver (Ja’Marr Chase, DeVonta Smith).

Get a pass rusher

Quinnen Williams made a big jump in his second season and is starting to show he can be one of the top interior linemen in the league. But the Jets need a presence on the edge – and have for a long time.

It’s been five seasons since a Jet has recorded more than eight sacks. Douglas could find one in the draft (Kwity Paye, Gregory Rousseau, Carlos Basham) or free agency (Matt Judon, Shaqiul Barrett, Yannick Ngakoue).

Help the quarterback, whoever it is

Douglas spent too much time last season trying to build a strong offensive line to protect Darnold, and not enough time or money on the skill positions. This time, Douglas has to do both.

The O-Line still needs strengthening. Douglas can do it through the draft and free agency (Joe Thuney). He needs to do the same at the wide receiver position. Some potential free-agent options are Allen Robinson, Chris Godwin, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Kenny Golladay and Corey Davis.

"We have a lot of big decisions that lay in front of us this offseason," Douglas said, "and we have to get them right."

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