With the NFL’s roster cut-down less than a week away, Jets GM Joe Douglas is a busy man these days. Time is precious for Douglas and the 42-year-old is not looking beyond today to discuss expectations.
“I’m not going to go out into December, my expectations are that we’re better tonight than we were last Thursday night and that next Monday’s practice is better than last Monday’s,” he told reporters two hours before the Jets matched up with the Saints at MetLife Stadium. “I think that’s one of the great things about our training camp — we’ve really been able to focus on what’s important now and that’s just getting better day by day. I know its cliché, but really we’re just focusing on a very minute details of how we can get better every day whether it’s gaining ground on your first step, making sure your eyes are in the right place. It’s just trying to do simple better, that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Hired to his post in early June, Douglas is pleased with what he has seen from his team, calling the competition and energy “outstanding” from the players. He also noted the culture being developed under the new coaching staff. Head coach Adam Gase displayed a rare accountability Sunday night, pointing the finger at himself for the fact that Avery Williamson was still in the game with reserves late in the second quarter of Thursday’s 22-10 win over the Falcons. Williamson ended up on the injured reserve with a torn ACL after colliding with a teammate while defending a pass.
“To me, that transparency, it was really refreshing,” Douglas said of Gase. “I support him in those decisions and I feel like there was a ripple effect through the team and the locker room. Not everyone would do that. For him to do that, I thought it spoke volumes about him as a person, a leader and that’s just the kind of guy you want to go to war with.”
Nothing that 1,200 players will hit the market next Friday and Saturday, Douglas believes the Green & White have a great opportunity to add to the back-half of their roster.
“From personal experience, in the past, I feel like we’re able to get really good players that contributed to our team, specifically on special teams in the previous spots I’ve been at,” said Douglas, who most recently was the Eagles vice president of player personnel from 2016-19. “There are going to be opportunities whether it’s trades, claims, there are going to be guys really from that 46, 47 spot on the roster all the way to 63 when you’re talking about the 10-man practice squad where you can really find guys that can help you in those spots.”
Moments before veteran cornerback Trumaine Johnson (hamstring) worked out on the field during pregame warm-ups, Douglas was specifically asked about a couple of positions starting with cornerback.
“We feel good about where we are with our top guys. I feel like there’s been great competition from the bottom of our corner group,” he said. “A guy like Tevaughn Campbell, he’s really busted his butt and made some plays. He’s done some good things in camp. Alex (Brown) came in and had a great week last week, he made some nice plays. We’re constantly evaluating those guys and we’re also evaluating guys across the league.”
Acknowledging he will be looking to upgrade at cornerback, Douglas added that he wants to upgrade at every position and that includes edge rusher. The first-year Jets GM raved about Jordan Jenkins and also had praise for Tarell Basham, Frankie Luvu and Harvey Langi. He noted the position flexibility of both Luvu and Langi, who made his preseason debut Saturday vs. Saints after returning from a knee injury, and stressed pass rushers will continue to emphasized.
“But we are going to focus on edge,” he said. “That’s always going to be a priority for us.”
After veteran kicker Chandler Catanzaro announced his retirement, the Jets worked out four kickers and Taylor Bertolet convincing stood out as the best option. Despite missing a pair of extra points against the Falcons, Bertolet will have every opportunity to be the club’s opening-day kicker.
“Taylor has had a great week of camp and we’re going to support him,” Douglas said. “[Saturday] is a big night for him. We’re going to evaluate him and see how he does, but he had a good week of camp.”
Without getting into hypotheticals, Douglas is keeping all of his options open and that includes packaging draft capital for a proven NFL commodity.
“Our focus is to win games while we’re here, so we’re going to do whatever it takes to win,” he said.