Joe Douglas ponders how the Jets could have handled Zach Wilson’s rookie year differently

NFL: OCT 24 Jets at Patriots
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The Jets used the second overall pick in 2021 on quarterback Zach Wilson. They continue to hold out hope that Wilson will develop into the player that they, and many others, thought he would be.

The plan going forward is simple — Wilson learns from Aaron Rodgers, and potentially gets another chance to play, down the road.

But Douglas is willing to look back at how the Wilson experiment went wrong, if for no reason other than to handle a similar situation better in the future.

“I go back and I look at a lot of things and things that can be done differently, things that were in our control, out of our control,” G.M. Joe Douglas said in an appearance on #PFTPM. “And every situation’s different. I feel like in today’s NFL, when you take a quarterback in the first round, and you take a quarterback high, time’s against you. And you need to see what you have so you can make a decision in that four-year window, three-year window.

“I think going back, it would have been great to have a veteran quarterback like a Joe Flacco that first season. But ultimately, we made the decision to jump in head first with our youth movement. We had so many first- and second-year players, new staff. Let’s go in and attack this thing with youth. We know there’s going to be some growing pains, but we’re all going to grow together. I think we saw some of the benefits of that last year. But sometimes you don’t take into account the ramifications of playing a young quarterback early in his career. And so, I think if I had to do everything over again, I would have probably had that veteran presence in the room early for Zach.”

For teams that hold a pick so high in the draft, it’s hard to pick a player that the team isn’t ready to put on the field. If the Jets weren’t ready to play Wilson after making him the second overall pick, they arguably should have picked a different player — someone who would be ready to go right away.

“Those were all the things we talked about,” Douglas said. “We went through, just like we did this offseason, we went through every single scenario in terms of not using pick number two on a quarterback, trading pick number two to acquire more talent, using pick two on a quarterback and keeping Sam [Darnold] as a veteran presence. We went through every scenario. Ultimately, we decided to really attack the youth movement and go young and we didn’t look back.”

Now, they look ahead.

“When the change was made in the second-half of last year, the intent was for Zach to reset and really get back to basics,” Douglas said. “And that’s carried over into this offseason so far. . . . Zach has an unbelievable ceiling and Zach is wired the right way in terms of his love of the game, his work ethic, his attention to detail. And so, this is a great opportunity for him to shadow one of the best passers of all time in Aaron Rodgers and pick up every little thing he can from him and get better every day. And so, I know he’s attacking this offseason like no other. His energy level is unbelievable. It’s good to see him with a huge smile on his face and really working every day to get better.”

The better he gets, the better off the Jets will be. And maybe, in time, the baton will pass smoothly from Rodgers to Wilson — and the fans will be willing to give Wilson a second chance to make a first impression.

23 responses to “Joe Douglas ponders how the Jets could have handled Zach Wilson’s rookie year differently

  1. It’s the Jets, so it’s actually been screwed up before these guys came to town. Nobody’s going to throw the owner under the bus, so I look at teams like this differently than I would most other teams. Joe Douglas could very well be doing a great job, but it’s quite possible his hands are tied. In fact, if things were going well, Joe Douglas would have never come to town in the first place.

  2. Joe Douglas is a below average GM, look at all the picks he has had (some from trading away players on the team when he came) and look what he has to show for all that – 4 good players, (Sauce Gardner, Garret Wilson, AVTucker, Breece Hall) and only 2 at important positions (CB and WR).
    Zach Wilson is Ryan Leaf 2.0, an epic bust. Its not that the Jets could have handled things differently, its the GM and HC are not that good, and they screwed up.
    Zach Wilson sitting a year wouldn’t make a difference, he is a bust, not even backup level.

    Joe Douglas is trying to save his job.

  3. The Jets have been to 3 championship games in the past 25 years. How many has that amazing SD franchise been to?

  4. It’s worth a shot, but they should draft or bring in someone else competent over the next year, Rodgers or not

  5. I always felt Wilson, and Darnold before him, needed competition in their first training camps. They were both the defacto starters. It’s not just for their benefit, but the team’s.

    Even if you rig the competition, you must still give the appearance of earning the QB1 role. If you play poorly, teammates could become resentful. Next thing you know, the team is wearing Mike white t-shirts.

  6. This franchise has had so much dysfunction over the years, especially regarding QB’s. Not hating, but I can’t wait to see how the Jets season plays out..It will be like watching chain smokers in a room filled with powder kegs.

  7. So tired of hearing about this guy. He was drafted early, but he didn’t earn or deserve it. He’s trash. No one asked this question about Jamarcus Russell or Josh Rosen. Let the dude suck and disappear. He’s got a ways to go just to get to Chad Henne’s level.

  8. Instead of talking him up and him believing what they are saying they could have brought in a veteran to push him. Instead the HD spoke about him like a serious man crush and he started believing it all. Just another first round qb bust for the Jets, nothing more nothing less

  9. Been saying for years that QBs no matter where drafted need to sit for years and learn before they are ready to play in the NFL.

    At least Douglas admits they made a mistake, now let’s hope he learned from it.

  10. A totally plausible excuse – if that’s what they decided to do it from day one but now saying they should have done that in retrospect just wiffs of lamentable excuses – & someone desperate to justify Thier job.

  11. goodellthegrifter says:
    May 13, 2023 at 11:48 am

    How about not drafting the loser in the first place?


    Same with New England drafting Mac Jones. Another flop of a first-round pick.

  12. This is what happens when you skip the develop portion of draft and develop.

  13. Dude…it’s not rocket science!…I think we all know the answer to that.

  14. Wilson is a punk and a pure bust. the whole team turned on him after that comment. No turning back after that. He lost the locker room for good.

  15. In his defense, 95% of people had Wilson as QB2 in that draft behind Lawrence. Lance, Fields and Jones haven’t shown a thing either.

  16. Soft Patriots’ fans love to ridicule QBs on the Jets yet constantly ignore their pathetic QB room. Wouldn’t be surprised at all to see New England finish in last place in the AFC East this season. They’ve been a disappointing franchise ever since Brady jumped ship to pursue rings elsewhere (successfully).

    But we’re supposed to believe the trolls that claim BB made Brady. It’s a fact that Brady provided your success. BB just happened to be there.

  17. Awwww I’m so sorry that I (successfully) ruffled the feathers of Pats’ fans. It’s a fact what I said. Mac Jones turned into a turnover machine and Zappe shouldn’t be a backup on any roster (he’s practice squad material at best). Again, worry about your own QB room. After all, Rodgers is better than all of your QBs combined. Plus the Jets had a strong defense last year so I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see the Pats get swept by them this season.

  18. Trollboy6 is about to have a meltdown because people aren’t praising the lowly Pats and are instead laughing at them. He forgets that the Pats suck (and basically always have) without Brady carrying the team to victory.

  19. He is young and wasnt ready to be thrown into the fire yet. Needs better coaching and veteran leaders to push him along. Obviously the Jets believe in his potential or they would have tried to send him to GB or somewhere else.

  20. He’s turned one of the worst rosters in the league into one of the best in three years with an almost complete turnover of players. He missed on the QB but also had both ROYs last year. In totality, his body of work has been a success.

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