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Jets GM Joe Douglas was impressed with Sam Darnold's growth

New York Jets general manager Joe Douglas enters his first full offseason in charge with optimism but knows there's plenty of work to do after a 7-9 season. (Dec. 31) (Credit: THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Sam Darnold’s growth and improvement throughout the season and his relationship with Adam Gase give general manager Joe Douglas reasons to believe the Jets are moving in the right direction.

Douglas was impressed with how Darnold overcame plenty of adversity this season, starting with contracting mono following Week 1. Darnold was 7-6 as a starter and threw 19 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

“The respect that Sam has earned from everyone in this building and especially in the locker room, for his ability to handle adversity and come back and play really good football,” Douglas said. “To watch him grow throughout the year, to watch him grow from Year 1 to Year 2, the leadership, it was really impressive to see.”

Douglas believes Gase can bring out the best in Darnold.

“I’ve seen that every day,” Douglas said. “I really think that Sam and Adam formed a really strong relationship, open and honest conversation and I think you saw that blossom throughout the end of the year.”

Line upgrades

A priority for Douglas will be improving the offensive line, which was a major weakness.

The Jets have eight draft picks, including No. 11 and three more in the top 80. Douglas, a former offensive lineman, is expected to use some of them to bolster the line. His predecessor, Mike Maccagnan, drafted only three offensive linemen in five years.

“Moving forward, the line of the scrimmage is always going to be a priority here,” Douglas said. “It’s definitely going to be something we’re going to look to improve every year.”

Enunwa’s future

If Quincy Enunwa can resume playing after his neck injury, the Jets will welcome him back.

Douglas said he and Enunwa have had conversations before and after his Twitter rant in which he voiced his displeasure about being fined for missing a rehab assignment.

“He’s a valued member of this team,” Douglas said. “He’s a fantastic person and a fantastic player. The hope and the plan is for him to rehab and be ready to go next year.”

After Enunwa’s blow up, and other controversies this season, Douglas said, “communication is going to be a big thing that we improve on in the future.”

Another kicker

The Jets signed former Cowboys kicker Brett Maher to a reserve/future contract. Sam Ficken, who had some struggles this year, will be a free agent.

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