FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – Joe Douglas’ relationship with Adam Gase played a big part in his hiring as the Jets' general manager. But it’s also what Douglas has done, and how he did it, that made him Christopher Johnson’s choice.
Douglas, the former Eagles vice president of player personnel, comes from winning programs in Baltimore and Philadelphia. He helped assemble the rosters that won Super Bowls in both places. It now will be Douglas’ job, with input from Gase, to try and turn the Jets into a contender.
The Jets introduced Douglas as the head of their football department at a news conference Tuesday afternoon.
Douglas, who got a six-year deal, talked about the influences former Ravens executive Ozzie Newsome and Eagles GM Howie Roseman had on him, and the importance of collaboration, communication and transparency.
“Everybody’s got to be on the same page,” Douglas said. “Everybody has to know what the vision is. Everybody has to be on the same bus and know where we’re going. That’s what we’re going to try to do here.”
This was a step in the right direction for the Jets after what happened that led to their GM spot being open.
Johnson, the Jets chairman and CEO, fired Mike Maccagnan nearly a month ago after it became obvious he and Gase would not have co-existed well.
There were reports of a rift. Maccagnan’s lack of decisiveness also has been mentioned as a reason he was let go. It didn’t mesh with Gase’s aggressive personality.
Gase, who was the Jets' acting GM, and Douglas worked together during 2015 in the Bears organization. But they established a close friendship that could benefit the Jets, because Douglas said there’s “an urgency” to build a team around Sam Darnold that can make the playoffs every year.
“I’m excited to be working with Adam again after building a special bond in Chicago,” Douglas said. “We share a vision of building a team, and I look forward to partnering with him and getting this program to a place where we’re consistently competing for championships each and every year.”
That’s Johnson’s hope as well. He wanted it to work with Maccagnan and believed it could, otherwise Johnson would have fired him when he dismissed Todd Bowles in December.
Gase, Maccagnan and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams worked closely throughout the draft and free agency. The three helped acquire the players that the Jets believe will lead to a far better record than their 5-11 finish last season.
But now it’s up to Gase to prepare them and Douglas to figure out who fits, who doesn’t and how he can improve the team going forward. Johnson praised Douglas as “a consensus builder” and believes he will “be able to build and sustain a winning culture.” Douglas and Gase each will report to Johnson.
“Joe is the right person at the right time,” Johnson said. “I feel that we now have the right people in charge of our football operations.”
It’s clear that Gase has quickly galvanized the Jets organization, and not just the locker room. He has garnered power, as his role in the general manager search indicated. Gase sat in on all interviews.
The Jets also interviewed Bears assistant director of player personnel Champ Kelly, who worked with Gase in Denver and Chicago, Seahawks co-director of player personnel Scott Fitterer and Saints director of pro scouting Terry Fontenot.
Douglas, a Virginia native and a former offensive lineman, was considered the favorite from the beginning because of his relationship with Gase. But Gase said more than once that Johnson made the decision – and he believes it's the right one.
“His ability to evaluate talent, his ability to communicate with everybody, whether it’s coaches, personnel, people around the organization, I’ve seen it firsthand,” Gase said. “His evaluation skills are unbelievable.
"Coaches, our staff, guys who worked with him in the past, always would say, ‘Joe says a guy’s a good player, believe him because he knows what he’s doing.’ Coaches trust him. You don’t hear the squabbles because he does a great job of evaluating players.”
Gase and Douglas’ comfort level with each other was very apparent. But Gase said they won’t always see eye to eye. They will have their lively debates, and they’ll challenge each other. But Gase is confident that they will work things out.
“You see the size of him. He can take me,” Gase said. “It’s hard to explain to you guys. There’s not fistfights going on. There’s discussions. That’s part of football. That’s part of this whole profession. His job is personnel. I’m always going to defer to him in that aspect because that’s his expertise.”
Douglas knows what type of players he wants in a Jets uniform.
“This is a game of wills,” Douglas said. “We’re going to try and build a team that can impose their wills. To do that you have to be stronger, and not just on the offensive line and defensive line. Then it’s about dynamic and explosive playmakers on both sides of the ball. That’s what we’re looking for.”
The coach agrees, which is very important for the health and growth of the Jets.