Joe Douglas, Le'Veon Bell, Sam Darnold
ESNY Graphic, Getty Images, AP Photo

Joe Douglas stood among everybody, Le’Veon Bell sent out an impactful message and the New York Jets path to prominence is now clearer.

Robby Sabo

FLORHAM PARK, NJ—There he was, standing tall, accepting blame and deflecting media questions (sure to create sticky situations) like a superhero. Joe Douglas answered the call on a Tuesday in Florham Park, NJ.

Well, maybe he wasn’t superhero-like, exactly. To be safe, call him G.M. Joe.

Speaking to the media shortly after the 2019 NFL trade deadline passed without big-time activity, the New York Jets general manager hit the critical notes needed to sift through the sludge disguised as a disastrous football season. Answers were required for many questions. How could the organization possibly move forward after rumors of Jamal Adams to Dallas turned Jets faithful into a more rabid than usual collection?

Douglas, along with help from his stud running back, calmed the storm while showcasing a path to future prominence.


Several reports claimed Adams to the Cowboys was a serious notion. ESPN’s Ryan Clark even reported Adams was willing to make the move to his hometown squad.

Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News presented a report claiming Le’Veon Bell, a man who was signed by the previous administration, was also on the block.

By the time the day was done, with Adams, Bell and Robby Anderson all still in-house, Douglas did something many familiar with the Jets aren’t used to. He revealed a personnel strategy usually not practiced around these parts.

“Absolutely. Again, I just want to reiterate, we were not shopping any of those players that were talked about today,” Douglas said. “You guys see Jamal every day, he wears the “C” patch for a reason. The guy is an absolute warrior. He’s the heartbeat of this team and this defense. He’s got the exact mentality and I’ve told him from the beginning, from my first day here. He’s a mission statement guy, he’s a guy that when you talk about the traits you’re looking for, that’s Jamal.”

Playing a big role in the Baltimore Ravens organization for 15 years, the man who was once labeled “The Turk” never shies away from taking offers. It doesn’t mean he’s actively shopping players.

“I wouldn’t say we’re interested in trading the player until it gets to a point that it would be compelling enough for me to take to Adam (Gase) and Christopher (Johnson) and recommend doing that,” Douglas revealed in response to whether or not he was playing the semantics game as per “shopping” players.

“Yeah, again listen. Where I grew up you listen to the phone calls. You listen to what people have to say when they call you.”

Douglas’s refreshing honesty makes complete sense. A major difference lies between actively shopping a player and fielding phone calls from interested parties at the deadline. To completely shut down the latter would mean missing out on a potential opportunity.

Unfortunately, not everybody appreciated the honesty.

Adams took to Twitter in a familiar way shortly after the presser. He first maintained he never wanted out or desired to be in Dallas.

That’s fine. That’s great. There’s nothing wrong with the claim, whether true or not. The moment No. 33 went wrong is when he decided to hit send on the follow-up dandy.

“At the end of the week last week, I sat down with the GM and Coach Gase and told them I want to be here in New York,” Adams tweeted. “I was told yesterday by my agent that the GM then went behind my back and shopped me around to teams, even after I asked him to keep me here! Crazy business.”

Shades of OBJ?

Listen, nobody will confuse Adams with Odell Beckham Jr. While one is leading the world in drama, the other is pouring his heart out on the football field. While one is putting together awkward celebrity interviews on ESPN, the other is setting the edge while taking on blocks with his inside shoulder like a stud.

Beckham could only dream of putting the intensity, effort and heart into the game his LSU brother does on a down-by-down basis.

At the same time, shades of OBJ have leaked from Adams’s usually consistent stature this season, beginning with the social media bio stuff to canceling his weekly spot on WFAN, attempting to separate himself from the losing culture to now this, airing his thoughts to on a public forum.

A man Adams can learn from is one of his dawgs, Mr. Bell.

Last spring, I was quite vocal about ignoring Bell on the open market. It makes no sense to sign a stud workhorse when the infrastructure is simply nonexistent. A superstar running back mixing it up with a horrid offensive line leads to disastrous results, as evidenced by Bell’s 3.2 yards-per-carry mark through seven games as a Jet.

Moreover, paying a running back in this league is always a tricky proposition. The position’s devalued nature cannot be argued.

On Tuesday, Bell showcased his value to such a degree that I officially withdraw my plea to not sign the man this past offseason.

“Patience.” Bell preached patience while brining a frustrated, rabid fanbase to a calm standstill (at least for a brief moment). While it still makes no sense to employ a big-money back without a proper O-line, words like these are worth its weight in gold.

It’s virtually impossible to convey the importance of leadership qualities shown in this message. Forget the critical nature of his words for a rebuilding football team; it’s a required element for any football locker room, and Bell is delivering at the team’s most desperate hour.

Whether or not Douglas was actively shopping Adams and Bell is irrelevant. Whether or not Adams is attempting to cover his own ass after asking out means nothing at this point.

What’s critical is the messaging.

Douglas, a former offensive lineman who understands the importance of building from the trenches out won’t (and can’t) be judged until his first offseason unfolds. Nobody knows how his executive talents will play out over the long haul.

At this moment, however, the only thing Jets fans can ask for is a correct vision for the franchise, a grasp on executing team-building principles that mold championship teams. The very first step is the refreshing messaging (and actions) that opens those doors.

On Tuesday, to cap one of the most hectic New York Jets days in quite some time, both Joe Douglas and Le’Veon Bell delivered on that messaging, that vision that aligns with the possibility of building this thing the correct way.



NYY

NYM

NYG

NYJ

NYK

BKN

NYR

NYI

NJD

SJU