Joe Douglas’ home run with the Jets’ 2022 draft class saves him from more Zach Wilson heartbreak

Two days in April saved Joe Douglas a ton of grief in December and January.

If there was ever any hope for Zach Wilson to succeed in a Jets uniform, it evaporated Thursday night on a rainy night at MetLife Stadium. Wilson was terrible against the Jaguars, and looked and looked like a broken quarterback after the game. The Jets have a decision to make on Wilson this offseason, but right now it’s hard to imagine Wilson playing for the Jets again.

Normally, to say that the quarterback drafted No. 2 overall just 20 months ago is done with a team would spell trouble for the man who drafted him. Douglas faced the biggest decision of his tenure with the Jets in the spring of 2021. He had to figure out whether to stay with Sam Darnold for a fourth season or move on and draft a quarterback. Douglas shipped Darnold to Carolina, then drafted Wilson with the second overall pick.

This draft pick may turn out to be one of the worst in franchise history, and that’s saying a lot for a franchise that has Lam Jones, Blair Thomas and Vernon Gholston in its history.

Zach Wilson looks like he could become an all-time Jets draft bust.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

But no one is screaming for Douglas’ head right now. The reason why? What he did this year to follow up on this choice of Wilson.

Douglas drafted Sauce Gardner with the No. 4 overall pick and Garrett Wilson with the No. 10 pick, a pick he acquired from the Seahawks in the trade of Jamal Adams in 2020. These two are the leading candidates for the defensive and offensive rookie of the year. price, respectively. On the second night of the draft, Douglas selected Breece Hall, who was set to challenge Wilson for Offensive Rookie of the Year before a torn ACL in October ended his season prematurely. Add Jermaine Johnson, Micheal Clemons and Max Mitchell, who have each contributed this season, and the 2022 draft class could one day be considered the best in franchise history.

Douglas has had other misfires as general manager, including the 2020 draft class which yielded no impact players. But any conversation about what Douglas did should also include what he accomplished. He took over a team in 2019 that had a terrible roster and equally terrible contracts. He fixed the salary cap situation and made some shrewd trades to put the Jets in a position to add talent.

Sauce Gardner #1 of the New York Jets celebrates with teammates after an interception against the Buffalo Bills.
Defensive Rookie of the Year Sauce Gardner (1) was the headliner of the Jets’ 2022 draft class.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

Part of the reason Zach Wilson’s poor play was so frustrating to watch this season was the talent he was surrounded by. Gone were the days when Jets fans watched Darnold pitch to a group of wide receivers who wouldn’t make another roster in the NFL. The Jets had a team talented enough to make the playoffs, but they were held back by Wilson’s play.

Douglas built this list. With the exception of CJ Mosley and Quinnen Williams, every major Jets player was acquired by Douglas.

Douglas also hired head coach Robert Saleh, who turned Jets culture on its head and made some crucial decisions this season, including benching Wilson.

Garrett Wilson #17 of the New York Jets runs the ball, leading Kaiir Elam #24 of the Buffalo Bills.
Garrett Wilson is a fundamental piece on offense in the Jets’ 2022 draft class.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

The Jets must win the next two games to have a chance of making the playoffs. If they make the playoffs, Douglas and Saleh will gain equity and enter 2023 ahead. If the Jets don’t make it, the pressure will be on in 2023 for Douglas and Saleh.

Wilson may not be part of the plan in 2023, and Douglas will take some heat for sniffing out the No. 2 overall pick. But the Jets will now be built around players such as Gardner, Garrett Wilson and Hall. Douglas writing this core over two days in April is what makes his work safe as we enter uncertain times in January.

fly blind

The Jets won’t know when they’ll play their Week 18 game until next week’s “Monday Night Football” game between the Bills and Bengals. The NFL is keeping all games from the final week of the season as “TBD”.

It could create a travel spree for the Jets, who return home from Seattle on Monday, if the NFL moves the Jets-Dolphins game to Saturday in Week 18. There will be two NFL games played on Saturday that week. The Jets-Dolphins game could be one of them depending on this week’s results.

New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh reacts during the first half against the Detroit Lions at MetLife Stadium on December 18, 2022.
Robert Saleh may have to lead the Jets through a tough week of travel before the season finale against the Dolphins.
Getty Images

This would mean the Jets travel schedule would look like this:

Saturday, December 31: Fly to Seattle

Sunday January 1: Play the Seahawks

Monday January 2: Fly to New Jersey

Friday January 6: Fly to Miami

Saturday January 7: Play dolphins

It would be a brutal stretch for the Jets, and seems unfair for the NFL to ask a team in pursuit of a playoff spot.

The Jets-Dolphins game could also become the Jan. 8 “Sunday Night Football” game. If the Dolphins beat the Patriots and the Jets beat the Seahawks this weekend, the Jets-Dolphins game will be a “win and in” game. You’d think it would end on Sunday Night Football. If the Dolphins lose to the Patriots, things get a little complicated, which could make the Jets-Dolphins a Saturday game.

Of course, if the Jets lose to the Seahawks, that’s all moot. In that case, they will likely play at 1 p.m. Sunday. But if they win, the schedule could get interesting.

The statistics are so

Breece Hall #20 of the New York Jets rushes for a touchdown in the fourth quarter of a game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on October 16, 2022.
Breece Hall, another part of Joe Douglas’ 2022 draft class, is the Jets’ top rusher despite not having played since tearing his ACL in October.
Getty Images

The Jets’ rushing offense has disappeared in recent weeks. Surprisingly, the team’s top rusher is still Hall, who hasn’t played in two months after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament. Here are the Jets’ top rushers of 2022:

Breece Hall: 80 attempts, 463 yards, 5.8 yards per attempt (long: 62 yards), 4 touchdowns

Michael Carter: 110 at., 396 yards, 3.6 yards/attack. (long: 25), 3 TD

Zonovan Knight: 65 at., 251 yards, 3.9 yards/attack. (long: 48), 1 TD

Zach Wilson: 28 at., 102 yards, 3.6 yards/attack. (long: 18), 1 TD

Ty Johnson: 17 at., 102 yards, 6.0 yards/attack. (long: 32), 1 TD

Source: Professional Football Reference

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