As the Jets try to figure out what went wrong with quarterback Zach Wilson, at some point the spotlight of scrutiny will point directly at the man who drafted him, G.M. Joe Douglas.
Could the misfire be enough to get Douglas fired?
It’s a fair question to ask, proximity of Christmas Day notwithstanding. Consider the team’s recent history. Mike Tannenbaum drafted Mark Sanchez. It didn’t work out, and Tannenbaum eventually was gone. John Idzik drafted Geno Smith. It didn’t work out, and Idzik eventually was gone. Mike Maccagnan drafted Sam Darnold. It didn’t work out, and Maccagnan was gone.
Douglas was hired to work with former coach Adam Gase. Douglas survived Gase’s termination. Can Douglas survive Wilson’s implosion?
There’s already a vague sense of friction and turmoil, based on the way Wilson has been handled. The front office fairly can be concerned that coach Robert Saleh allowed Wilson to be undermined in the locker room and, in turn, among the fans. Saleh fairly can be concerned that he’s had Wilson forced upon him at a time when Saleh preferred to go with others.
Dysfunctional teams do dysfunctional things. There’s a chapter in Playmakers devoted to the importance of the coach and G.M. always being on the same page. If they’re not, each will blame the other when the shit hits the fan. And Saleh currently can make a much more persuasive argument than Douglas as to the fact that the quarterback drafted by Wilson isn’t the answer.
The point isn’t whether Douglas should be fired. The point is that he could be, because owner Woody Johnson may feel compelled to fire someone in the aftermath of Wilson’s failure, especially after an unexpectedly hot start to the season has disintegrated into another lost cause.
Of course, if Woody is going to fire anyone, he should maybe fire himself. While he was gone for a few years during a foray into international politics, the truly common thread among the failures of Sanchez, Smith, Darnold, and Wilson is Woody.
But, as 49ers CEO Jed York once said, you can’t fire the owner. And the dysfunction always flows from the top. For the Jets, it quite likely be different movies that all have the same ending unless and until Woody cashes out.