New York Jets GM Joe Douglas
(Photo by Al Pereira/Getty Images)

Did the New York Jets break a mirror or step under a ladder? Ever since they hired Joe Douglas, luck has seemed to be against him. 

Kyle Newman

The New York Jets can’t catch a break. Since they hired Joe Douglas, luck has seemed to be against the team. Whether it’s been timing, injuries, or even diseases, the Jets have been put in a position to fail.

Fans knew that Douglas was going to have to overcome obstacles to succeed as the Jets general manager, but this is ridiculous. It almost feels like the universe itself is against the entire organization.

Here are some of the setbacks he’s had to experience and work past.

Hired Late

The first sign that things were against Douglas’ tenure was the timing. The Jets didn’t fire now-former general manager Mike Maccagnan until May 15, 2019, nearly three weeks after the NFL Draft.

This gave Douglas no real say on the 2019 roster. He missed out on signing free agents and controlling the draft. In fact, he was saddled with Jachai Polite, a third-round pick who was waived before Week 1.

Douglas tried to make some moves, but he was limited. He traded sixth and seventh-round picks for Demaryius Thomas and Alex Lewis, respectively. He additionally signed Ryan Kalil just as training camp was commencing.

Those moves didn’t exactly work out well. Thomas ended the season with less than 500 receiving yards. Lewis was one of the worst guards in the NFL, though he arguably performed better than Kelechi Osemele. Worst of all, Kalil struggled heavily at the center position.

Douglas tried to improve the team in the time he was given, but those efforts were always doomed to fail. He simply wasn’t provided the necessary opportunities to substantially bolster the roster.

Injuries

Even with all the timing issues, the Jets were still expected to be a potential playoff team. Moves to acquire Le’Veon Bell and C.J. Mosley were highly touted, and second-year quarterback Sam Darnold carried much potential.

That didn’t all come together though, as they failed to reach the postseason. Arguably one of the biggest reasons for this was the injuries.

New York was second in the NFL as far as salary cap total on injured reserve. Only two players on the entire team — Marcus Maye and Steve McLendon — started a full 16 games.

Despite all the health-related setbacks, the Jets still managed to put together a top-10 defense in DVOA. The offense didn’t recover though, as the line was 29th in the NFL in allowed sacks. New York was also one of just five teams to not have a single receiver record at least 850 yards.

When fans look back at 2019, they’ll remember it as a year destroyed by injuries. That’s going to be the legacy of Douglas’ inaugural season in charge.

Having no time to improve a roster and then possessing a roster decimated by injuries isn’t a series of events that’s supposed to lead to success. If that was all that happened, one could count Douglas as unlucky, but not more so than most general managers.

Sadly, that’s only the tip of the iceberg.

Disease

What other teams can say they were affected by illnesses like the Jets were?

Gang Green went one game before learning its franchise quarterback had mononucleosis. Darnold missed three games after the diagnosis and may not have returned to full strength at any point in the year.

The 22-year-old spent the majority of the 2019 season playing in specially designed pads in order to protect his spleen, which totally affected his on-field ability.

That alone would make most fans believe the universe is against the Jets, but it doesn’t stop there. Now Douglas has to compete with the coronavirus.

It’s true that all teams in the league must face the disease, but Douglas has to do it while preparing to be in charge of a draft for the first time. Not to mention, the virus outbreak could indeed affect the annual event.

Douglas is a renowned scout who’s built his career on the draft. Now, he has to figure out how to run a pre-draft process without any pro days or private meetings, which have been canceled.

No personal connections to the prospects and no closer looks. The only things teams can really use to evaluate a player is seeing what they were able to do in college and at the combine. Even the greatest scout would struggle to identify high-end talent with a bare-bones process like this, let alone someone who has to do it as a general manager for the first time.

The Jets seem to be caught in a catastrophic storm of bad luck that started with the hire of Douglas. It’ll be up to him to prove that he’s up to this seemingly herculean task. If he does, he’ll likely go down in Jets history. If not, he’ll find himself on a long list of busts.

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