With Wilson Benched, Joe Douglas Needs Some Personal Wins
With the New York Jets no longer having a realistic shot at making the 2023 NFL playoffs, GM Joe Douglas could sure use some personal wins as the seasons second half plays out. It’s been a disastrous few months for Douglas who saw his trade for Aaron Rodgers blow up in his face while Zach Wilson fell on his as the team’s primary second quarterback. And that wasn’t all.
Douglas’ failure to add quality depth at wide receiver behind Allen Lazard and Corey Davis via the draft or free agency has left him with a Garrett Wilson and a bunch of guys who, at this point in their very young careers, can’t get open. And while some may vilify Douglas for his handling of the offensive line, we’ll take it a bit easier on him there. Why? Because how many NFL teams are legitimately ten deep up front? We ask because that’s what it would have taken to withstand the number of injuries the Jets have sustained in the trenches up front.
The team started the season with Duane Brown, Laken Tomlinson, Connor McGovern, Alijah Vera-Tucker and Mekhi Becton up front. This Friday against the Dolphins, it’s entirely possible that of those five, only Tomlinson will play as they trot out what will be their eighth different offensive line combination of the season.
So where can Joe Douglas get some wins over the second half of the season? His 2023 draft class which has up to this point, been mostly invisible.
Second-round pick Joe Tippmann has done some good work at center and guard and remains the only player from the 2023 class who is seeing action on a regular basis. Beyond that, Douglas has some talented yet rarely used players.
It starts in the trenches where first-round pick Will McDonald has been used sparsely, but has flashed high-end ability. His elite get off makes him a player who should find his way to the quarterback if given some 3rd down reps. The problem of course becomes taking Bryce Huff or Jermaine Johnson off the field to get McDonald on it. But should Robert Saleh and Jeff Ulbrich find a way to work him in for more playing time, it would undoubtedly boost the outlook of this year’s class as put together by Joe Douglas.
Fourth-round picks (120th overall) Carter Warren saw his first action at tackle this week when Mekhi Becton left the game with an ankle injury and while he wasn’t perfect, he did do some good things. And while it’s certainly not saying much, he looked better than veteran backup Robert Turner did in his limited action this season.
Nice job by Carter Warren picking up a pair of blocks on the Breece Hall run. pic.twitter.com/gTk6WJAvtm
— Glenn Naughton (@JNRadio_Glenn) November 19, 2023
Warren was a player who lasted longer than many anticipated in this year’s draft. This was due to missed time from injury at Pitt, but now that he’s healthy and rolling, getting him on the field should be a priority. A better pass blocker than run blocker, Warren could establish himself as a legitimate candidate to win a starting tackle job next season.
Then of course there’s running back Israel or “Izzy” Abanikanda. Perhaps the most explosive offensive player on the roster, the Jets have kept him in bubble wrap all season as the fourth back on the depth chart. Following the release of Michael Carter last week, Abanikanda is expected to see more opportunities as the season goes on. If he does, expect to do some things to alleviate concerns about the 2023 class.
Beyond that there isn’t much to say about Douglas’ pick. Linebacker Zaire Barnes, defensive back Jarrick Bernard-Converse and tight end Zach Kuntz were projects when drafted and haven’t seen the field this season. Although Bernard-Converse was active against the Bills and could work his way on to the field at some point as a safety/cornerback.
Coming off the heels of a historically good Joe Douglas draft class last season; One that netted Sauce Gardner, Garrett Wilson, Jermaine Johnson, Michael Clemons and Jeremy Ruckert, there were high hopes for what Douglas would follow that up with. Up to now, it’s been a whole lot of question marks. If some of those questions have positive answers in the coming weeks, it would go a long way in building both fan and owner confidence in Douglas’ ability to identify and draft talented players.