Get ready for the Triple-A Jets.
The word around the 2021 team is “development,” as in this year is more about getting young players experience and seeing the progress they make in order to win big in future years.
As for 2021? Get ready for a long season, Jets fans… again.
“We embrace the urgency at which everybody wants to win, but at the same time that can’t affect your decision making for the long haul of the goal of winning championships for extended periods of time,” coach Robert Saleh said. “That urgency in the past has led to spurts of success and lengths of failure. We’re trying to get that reversed, to where we have long, long runs of success.
“So, while the fan base and all that stuff is greatly appreciated and we want that strain, at the same time it’s not something that’s going to push us to making a mistake that affects the longevity of this organization.”
This is the way that a rebuilding team has to proceed, but it can’t be easy to hear for fans that have now gone 10 seasons without a playoff appearance and five years without a winning season. The message coming out of Florham Park on Wednesday was this season will be measured by how well players develop, like quarterback Zach Wilson, not by how many wins and losses the team has, just like a minor league baseball team.
“The goal is to get better every week,” general manager Joe Douglas said. “The goal is to play sound football, establish the line of scrimmage and really develop as the year goes. I think when you see the character of this team shine through in the early part of training camp, and I think you’re going to see it shine through as we progress through the season.”
It was pointed out to Douglas that he was not talking about making the playoffs or going to the Super Bowl, and he laughed and said, “nice try.”
The days of Rex Ryan predicting Super Bowls (and coming close) feel like something out of the Paleozoic Era these days. The Jets of the past eight years have been like that stretch of highway that is perpetually under construction.
The 2021 Jets have a cast younger than the Mickey Mouse Club. They are prepared to have eight rookies in major roles. When Douglas described what success looks like this year, it sounded like how you judge preseason games when progress is more important than the scoreboard.
“Success is going to be watching us go out like we did in preseason and play good, sound fundamental football with a lot of intent, with a lot of passion, with a lot of explosiveness, with a lot of violence, as coach says, and watch us develop as the year goes,” Douglas said.
Saleh was asked if he believes this year is about short-term pain on the way to long-term gain.
“No, not necessarily,” he said. “There’s a lot of similarities, I’ll let you guys search it out, in terms of teams that have gone the direction we have and have had success. But there’s always, with rookies, and a young team, there’s going to be growth cause there’s going to be so many, ‘aha’ moments but, what you’ll see is a group of young men that play their absolute tails off. They’ll run, they’ll hit, and they’ll be excited to play this game.”
It remains to be seen how patient fans will be with this team. Saleh has had a nice honeymoon since he was hired in January, as fans were thrilled to have anyone but Adam Gase in charge. But will that fade as the losses mount?
Douglas is in his third season as GM (though only his second offseason), and the team has gone 9-23 on his watch, which he acknowledged wasn’t good enough. Douglas said despite the focus on development, there is a win-now mentality inside the Jets.
“We’re all focused on win now,” Douglas said. “We’re all focused on doing what’s best for this organization this year and in the future. What I’ve been preaching since I’ve been here is we want to do this the right way. We want to build this foundation the right way so it’s a long-term success and not just a flash in the pan. I feel good about where we are in terms of the foundation of this team moving forward.”
Originally published at https://nypost.com/2021/09/01/jets-robert-saleh-joe-douglas-preach-patience-in-2021/ on .