FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Joe Douglas has assembled teams that have won six games in the last two seasons. The Jets’ general manager knows this is a huge offseason for him.
"I have to do a better job," he said during his end-of-season news conference Monday. "This is going to be my third offseason, so I’ve got to do a better job and make better decisions moving forward and help Coach [Robert] Saleh put this team in position to win more games."
Douglas wouldn’t say he expects the Jets to be a playoff team next year. Owner Woody Johnson may feel that way, though.
The Jets will have two picks in the top 10 (four, 10) and four of the first 38 in the NFL Draft. They also have more than $55 million to spend in free agency. Douglas has the chance to make some major improvements that could help this team go from 4-13 in Saleh’s first year to playing meaningful games in December.
"Four wins, it’s not good enough," Douglas said. "Six wins in two years, it’s not good enough. We have to be better, specifically in the division. We have a lot of work to do moving forward. We need to get better across the board."
With all of the draft capital and cap space they have, the opportunity is there for the Jets. Douglas promises to be aggressive and could package some picks for a proven veteran.
"With the position we put ourselves in, we have great flexibility," he said. "We have great flexibility to really use these assets in different ways. You’ve seen teams do that in the past couple of years where they’ve used draft assets for proven players. Those are all things that Coach and I are going to talk about.
"We’re fortunate to be in this position to have this kind of flexibility. We’re always going to be aggressive if the right opportunity presents itself. The good thing is I think moving forward, we can be in just about any discussion when it comes to player trades."
Douglas’ two drafts are a mixed bag. He had what appears to be a good draft in 2021, but 2020 has been a disappointment.
Last year’s class featured Zach Wilson, Alijah Vera-Tucker, Michael Carter and Elijah Moore. They look as if they can be core players on offense.
Bryce Hall, a fifth-round pick in 2020, was the only player from that draft to have a good season. He was the Jets’ No. 1 cornerback and started all 17 games. Mekhi Becton, Denzel Mims, Ashtyn Davis, Jabari Zuniga and La’Mical Perine made little impact this season.
Douglas’ two big free-agent signings from last year spent more time rehabbing than on the field. Edge rusher Carl Lawson ruptured his Achilles in the preseason and receiver Corey Davis was limited to nine games.
Douglas said the Jets will focus on how they can keep their players healthy.
"This is the second year we’ve had the most cap dollars on injured reserve," he said. "It’s hard to consistently win games when you’re banged up."
Aside from their ability to add talent, the Jets are relying on improvement from within as key players come back from injury and the young guys return for a second year in Saleh’s defensive system and offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur’s scheme.
Douglas is encouraged by how Wilson improved his quarterback play throughout the season.
"I saw a ton of growth from Zach this year," he said. "I feel very confident about his development moving forward."
Douglas praised Saleh for his ability to teach, lead and inspire and his coaching staff for how the young players developed.
"We need to be better than four wins," Douglas said. "We need to be better than six wins in two years. There’s no question about that. The impetus is on us to bring in the right type of person and right type of people."