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Sunday, June 16, 2019

Jets Gain(e) A GM And Veteran RB

So much has happened within the Jets organization the last 40 days, they continue to win the off-season Super Bowl of news and dysfunction. After a very unsure period, the Jets finally hired their General Manager Joe Douglas. Make no mistake, when the Houston Texans fired their GM, Brian Gaine, the Jets were under pressure to get the Joe Douglas deal done or he might be in Houston today. From everything I’ve read about Douglas he seems to be by far the best person available for the Jets GM position. But we have all seen this movie before. I remember when the late Dick Steinberg was hired as the Jets GM in 1990, the same atmosphere was felt. Steinberg was hired away from the Patriots after helping to build a team that made it to Super Bowl XX. This was after he was involved in the drafting of a very good group of players for the Rams who made it to Super Bowl XIV. But for whatever reason success did not follow Steinberg to the Jets. In his five-plus seasons the Jets posted a 33-51 record. Let’s hope that Joe Douglas has better success with the Jets. My feeling is that he will. He knows and talks about how you build teams up front in the trenches with the offensive and defensive lines. He realizes Sam Darnold’s talent and wants to keep him healthy. Mike Maccagnan moved too slow for me and the word is he could not pull the trigger on some proposed trades. Watch Joe Douglas. He gives me the impression of being a “shaker and a mover.”

Adam Gase reached out to Bilal Powell and signed the veteran to a one year contract. This tells me a few things. First off Powell may be completely healed from his neck surgery. Secondly Gase recognizes what Powell brings to the Jets. Besides being a great locker room guy, he does everything well on the field, running, catching the ball and picking up blitzes. He has been one of the most underrated players since he came into the league. When the Jets signed Matt Forte for the 2016-17 seasons, I thought it was an unnecessary signing even though those two seasons were very productive for Powell. The signing of Powell also tells me that  Adam Gase is not in love with Le'Veon Bell no matter what he says to the press about him. In addition to Bell and Powell, the running back position seems to be overloaded with Trenton Cannon, Elijah McGuire, Ty Montgomery and De'Angelo Henderson Sr., all listed on the roster. If I was a betting man I would say either Cannon or McGuire are not on the roster once the season starts.

Jets Put Up Their Duke(s)
The Jets have a long snapper from Duke, Thomas Hennessy. Including him who is the most talented football player from Duke playing at MetLife Stadium? Some might say Daniel Jones (Giants draft pick) but looking closer, Jamison Crowder who the Jets signed as a free agent from the Washington Redskins may be the best pickup by Gang Green in the off season. With all the hype around Le'Veon Bell, the Crowder signing was something of an under the radar move that will give Sam Darnold another weapon. Only 25 years old, Crowder is quick and has some incredible moves. He was hurt last year but in the three seasons before he put up some very respectable numbers catching 192 passes for 2,240 yards and 12 TDS (15 lifetime). He is a very good punt returner and ran one back 85 yards for a TD in 2016. He measures only 5’9” but this guy is exciting. Kirk Cousins thought so highly of Crowder that he was targeted 103 times in 2017. Just to put this into perspective, in the same season Tom Brady targeted Rob Gronkowski 105 times. The Jets may use Crowder in the slot but I would not hesitate to split him out wide and give Quincy Enunwa some receptions in the slot. If Sam Darnold can make that second season leap everyone is expecting, look for Jamison Crowder to have 90+ receptions.

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Jets Center Position Is Still A Concern
Besides the signing of free agent Jamison Crowder, another underrated signing the Jets made was landing offensive line coach Frank Pollack. I wrote about Pollack before and how he is a real purist when it comes to coaching the offensive line. He is not just an offensive coordinator in waiting. He was a former player (OL) who worked his way up the coaching ladder peaking with the Dallas Cowboys as their OL coach from 2015-17. After spending one year with the Bengals, by some miracle he decided to come east to the Jets. Now he has his work cut out for him. I’m sure he was given the ultimatum that he must keep Sam Darnold healthy and put him in a position to succeed. The Jets missed out on free agent center Matt Paradis who wanted to come to the Jets but supposedly his price was too high. Mitch Morse probably the best free agent center available signed with the Buffalo Bills. I had my heart set on Stefen Wisniewski of the Eagles but he resigned with them a few weeks ago. Now the market is thin. I had thought Jonotthan Harrison played respectable but according to ESPN’s Rich Cimini (see following) he did not. Now the Jets are in a bind and the one player I see available is Rams former center John Sullivan. The negative is he will be 34 years old in August but the Jets should go after him with a two year contract.  

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In an article ESPN’s Rich Cimini said of the Jet center situation:
“One of the biggest issues for the Jets is the center position. Gase has talked up incumbent Jonotthan Harrison, who replaced the ineffective Spencer Long last season, but you have to wonder if Harrison is the right guy for the job.Statistics aren't everything, especially with an offensive lineman, but they tell a clear story in this case. In Harrison's starts, Weeks 10 to 17, the Jets' success rate on running plays (41.9 percent) ranked 32nd, according to NFL Next Gen Stats. Their success rate on inside runs (40.5) also ranked 32nd. The numbers were nearly identical in Weeks 14 to 17, when the offense showed signs of life during Darnold's late-season rally. (By definition, the success rate is the percentage of run plays resulting in a successful play based on the yards-to-go by down -- 40 percent on first down, 50 percent on second, a conversion on third/fourth.) Harrison's performance on passing downs was similarly concerning. His pass-block win rate (plays in which a player holds his block for at least 2.5 seconds) was only 71 percent, eight points below the league average for centers, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.”

More from Rich Cimini:
New York Jets general manager Joe Douglas came from an organization that won a Super Bowl with a young quarterback as its primary starter, and he believes Sam Darnold gives him the chance to attack his new job with the same mentality.

"When you know you have the right guy, there's a sense of urgency: 'Let's go win right now,'" Douglas said Tuesday at his introductory news conference. "I feel like that confidence is here right now."

Douglas, hired to replace Mike Maccagnan, inherits a team that hasn't reached the postseason since 2010. This is a daunting job. In fact, only the Cleveland Browns and San Francisco 49ers have won fewer games than the Jets over the past three seasons. Jets' new GM Joe Douglas: Solid hire, but it guarantees nothing. Instead of preaching patience and tamping down expectations, Douglas, 42, expressed a sense of conviction in the organization. He praised coach Adam Gase and said the roster includes "a lot of exciting pieces." He said it starts with Darnold, the third overall pick in 2018 -- just as it did in his former job with the Philadelphia Eagles and quarterback Carson Wentz.

"I'll say this: Building around a young guy, there was a sense of urgency in Philadelphia, knowing we had a young quarterback, and we wanted to put the pieces around him," said Douglas, the Eagles' vice president of player personnel for three seasons. "I think there's going to be that same urgency anywhere, especially here with a young quarterback like Sam."
Douglas also will hire an executive to work alongside him. He confirmed that ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay, a former college teammate, is under consideration for a position. But he quickly added, "We're going to cast a wide net. We're going to get the right person." Former Cleveland Browns GM Phil Savage also is a candidate. Douglas downplayed reports that said he was hesitant about taking the job because of uncertainty with ownership. Owner Woody Johnson, the U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom, could return to the team in 2020, depending on the outcome of the presidential election. That would create questions about Christopher Johnson's role.

"I can promise you," Douglas said, "I wouldn't be standing here if I didn't have a comfort level with where this franchise was in the leadership position."

Under-the-radar standouts from the spring: running back Ty Montgomery, tight end Daniel Brown, defensive end Bronson Kaufusi and linebacker Jordan Jenkins. 

Underwhelming: quarterback Trevor Siemian, running back Trenton Cannon, cornerback Parry Nickerson and defensive tackle Nathan Shepherd.

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Brian Costello,NY Post
The Jets now have their leaders. After a tumultuous month, the Jets introduced Joe Douglas as their new general manager at a Tuesday press conference. The word of the day was collaboration, which was said repeatedly as the organization hopes to find harmony with this hire.

“I feel that we now have the right people in charge of our football operation,” Jets chairman and CEO Christopher Johnson said.

The Jets hope the tandem of Douglas and head coach Adam Gase can end a nine-year playoff drought and a 50-year championship drought. The two worked together with the Bears in 2015 and have remained friends. Now, they will run the Jets together.

“We’re going to find passionate people that love the game of football, that hate losing more than they love winning, that love to prepare, that love to practice, that love to compete,” said Douglas, who spent the past three years as the Eagles vice president of player personnel.
…….“His evaluation skills are unbelievable,” Gase said. “Coaches, our staff, guys that have worked with him in the past, they always would say if Joe says a guy is a good player, believe him. He knows what he’s doing. Coaches trust him. You don’t hear the squabbles because he does such a great job evaluating players.”
The Jets showed how much they believe in Douglas with a six-year contract. Douglas will have control of the 53-man roster while Gase will control the depth chart, but Douglas said he will listen to Gase on personnel matters.

“Just because there is control of the 53 doesn’t mean there isn’t going to be strong collaboration,” Douglas said. “That was the model in Philadelphia and Baltimore and Chicago. It’s collaboration not only with the head coach, but every position coach and the entire personnel staff.”
Douglas said his first priority will be connecting with people inside the Jets organization. One person who already has connected with him is Gase, who was giddy.

“I was excited when Christopher called me and told me what was going on [with hiring Douglas],” Gase said. “I was borderline ex-girlfriend harassing Joe: ‘When are you coming up, when are you coming up?’ The last couple of days have been awesome.”

Manish Mehta, NY Daily News
(Sam) Darnold can be special. He has everything that an organization covets. Beyond the supreme talent that he flashed at times as a rookie, he possesses a rare gift for a young player: maturity. The soundtrack of his professional and personal life is pure and free of clutter. He’s unflappable. Darnold is authentic. He is nice, but not soft. He is a competitive S.O.B. who doesn’t believe in cutting corners or undercutting anyone. He is wise beyond his 21 years, handling the expectations and accompanying pressure like a much older man.

“I think it all starts with my family,” Darnold said Thursday. “My mom and dad back home and my sister…. an older sister, who’s been a great example for me throughout life. And my parents have a laid a great foundation. It all starts with them. And I have great friends back home, who I’ve had since high school who keep me grounded. If they ever see me say anything dumb in the media right now, they’d be the first ones to talk to me about it and let me know that I’m an idiot.

“So, it’s awesome that I have friends like that and obviously great teammates to keep my grounded as well.”

The Jets morphed back into a punchline in the past week after CEO Christopher Johnson’s unorthodox decision to fire general manager Mike Maccagnan after empowering him to make all the critical decisions this offseason (including hiring Adam Gase).

People around the NFL got their jokes out of the way to me privately before asking about Darnold.Darnold’s going to get out of there as soon as he can,” one NFC general manager predicted to me.

“I feel bad for 14,” one AFC GM said.

For all the fair criticism heaped on Maccagnan, he’ll always be the guy who drafted Darnold. Maccagnan and top lieutenant Brian Heimerdinger, whom the former GM credited for pulling together the trade with the Colts that put Gang Green in position to land Darnold, are gone now.

"It’s tough whenever someone loses his job in any business,” Darnold said. “You understand and you feel for them. But this business is tough. It's a hard deal. And that's just part of it. I'll forever be grateful for Mike and what he's done for me. Taking me No. 3 overall was a life-changing experience and I'll forever be grateful for that. But I do understand that it’s a tough business. I understand that and a lot of guys on the team do as well.”

Behind the scenes of the final straw in the Jets rift between Adam Gase and Mike Maccagnan »
It’s truly amazing, isn’t it? Darnold gave Maccagnan a more gracious, classy and thoughtful public send-off than Johnson and Gase combined. Those guys could learn a little something from this kid.

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NFL News and Rumors
..........The Rams aren’t ready to talk to agent Ryan Tollner regarding a new contract for quarterback Jared Goff. The Rams, however, are ready to talk about when they may want to talk about a new contract for Goff. Via Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times, Rams G.M. Les Snead said Friday that the Rams have had “preliminary discussions” with Tollner regarding a timeline for talks regarding Goff’s deal.

“Nothing heavy,” Snead said of the communications. “No heavy lifting.”

Like coach Sean McVay, Snead made it clear that the Rams intend to keep Goff around.........

......The tug-of-war that the Patriots and Texans engaged in over the past week or so ended with Houston in the mud and New England holding the prize, director of player personnel Nick Caserio. There are a number of theories as to why the Texans agreed to stop their pursuit of Caserio, but we learned on Friday that Caserio may have language in his contract with the Patriots that specifically forbids him from interviewing with any other team.
Indeed, Mike Reiss of believes that theory makes the most sense, and when Caserio signed his last extension with the Pats, Reiss says New England may have asked Caserio to not pursue any other openings in exchange for longer-term security and increased salary. Of course, the NFL’s anti-tampering clause could have superseded such a contractual provision if Houston elected to challenge it, but the Texans opted to avoid battle with one of the league’s most powerful owners, Robert Kraft. Speculatively, Caserio could have filed a grievance of some sort, but even if he were justified in so doing, he may have felt it was better for a GM hopeful like him to not go that route.
But Reiss says that Caserio does appear motivated to move on when contractual obstacles no longer prevent him from doing so, and we now know that Caserio’s contract expires after the 2020 draft.....
.....Tom Pelissero of NFL Media reports that Cowboys TE Rico Gathers been suspended without pay for the first game of the 2019 regular season for violating the NFL’s policy and program on substances of abuse.
The suspension comes from Gathers’ 2018 arrest for marijuana possession.
Gathers, 25, is a former sixth-round pick of the Cowboys back in May of 2016. He was, unfortunately, cut loose coming out of the preseason and later signed to the team’s practice squad at the start of the regular season.
.....One member of the Vikings will be using the pre-camp break to rehab from recent surgery. NFL Media reports that tight end David Morgan had arthroscopic surgery on his knee recently. He is expected to be ready for training camp.
Morgan joined the Vikings as a sixth-round pick in 2016 and has appeared in 38 games over the last three seasons. 
......Tom Pelissero of NFL Media reports that Cowboys TE Rico Gathers been suspended without pay for the first game of the 2019 regular season for violating the NFL’s policy and program on substances of abuse.
The suspension comes from Gathers’ 2018 arrest for marijuana possession.
Gathers, 25, is a former sixth-round pick of the Cowboys back in May of 2016. He was, unfortunately, cut loose coming out of the preseason and later signed to the team’s practice squad at the start of the regular season.
.....The Texans are still looking for a GM, they have no clarity on the Jadeveon Clowney situation, and they have some worrisome injury news concerning their cornerbacks. Per Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle, new CBs Bradley Roby and Lonnie Johnson Jr. are both dealing with ailments that have largely kept them off the field over the past couple of months.

.....Most of the attention on the Giants’ quarterbacks room this offseason has been focused upon Daniel Jones, the No. 6 overall pick in April’s draft, and Eli Manning, the 38-year-old two-time Super Bowl MVP. But as Paul Schwartz of the New York Post writes, the battle to be Big Blue’s third QB is expected to become quite heated once training camp opens next month.Jones was able to quiet some of the negative chatter surrounding him with an impressive spring, and Schwartz says that if the Giants are convinced the Duke product will be able to step in for Manning whenever he’s called upon — and OC Mike Shula has already expressed that level of confidence in Jones — then the club may elect to keep just two signal-callers and send both Kyle Lauletta and Alex Tanney packing.

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