Jets’ goal of playing meaningful games ‘down the stretch’

The roster is in and the Jets are entering the 2022 season with high short-term and long-term expectations after a promising offseason.

General manager Joe Douglas met with the media Wednesday and said the goal is to play meaningful games “down the stretch.”

When asked if he thinks the Jets can do that, he said, “I absolutely do.”

It’s been a long time since the Jets played a meaningful game late in the season. You have to go back to 2015, when the Bills crushed their playoff hopes on the final day of the season. Since then, the seasons have largely ended in September and October.

But the Jets feel like they’re headed in the right direction with Douglas and coach Robert Saleh.

After last season, Saleh said the goal was to close the gap in the AFC East. The Jets haven’t won a division game since 2019, losing the last 12. Douglas said if they’re going to play meaningful games late, that means they have to beat the Bills, Patriots and Dolphins. Douglas feels the offseason additions the team has made should help him get there.

Jets coach Robert Saleh talks with general manager Joe Dougas during a recent practice.
Jets coach Robert Saleh talks with general manager Joe Douglas during a recent practice.
Noah K Murray

“I feel like we’re certainly a more talented team than ever,” Douglas said. “We’ve had these OTAs, these preseason games, this training camp to really bond, build chemistry as a group. But you’re right, we have to close the gap in the division. That’s part of playing meaningful games down the stretch is winning games in the division. That’s the No. 1 goal of any team to win the division.”

As for Saleh, he steered clear of making bold proclamations about what the Jets will do this year. He is not Rex Ryan. When Saleh was reminded that when he was hired he said he believed the Jets would win championships, he said that remains the case.

joe douglas
joe douglas
Noah K Murray

“I still think we are going to win championships here,” Saleh said. “I think when you look at Joe and his staff and the way he communicates with us as a coaching staff, our process is too good. I think the players we’ve brought in are made of the right stuff. The way this organization communicates, the way Woody [Johnson] and Christopher [Johnson] give us everything we need regarding player acquisition and being in this building and their support, it’s too good for this not to work. Really excited again to continue to build this roster and develop these young men and deliver on the promise we made when we first got here.”

Saleh said he thinks the Jets are building their roster the right way, through the draft and smart free-agent signings. He took a shot at previous regimes that spent too much on free agency.

“It’s a team that is being built,” Saleh said. “Unlike what I feel like this organization has had in the past, and I don’t want to speak ill of anything or anything that’s been done in the past, but this is a list that’s built, not bought, and because of that, I feel like there’s an opportunity for this team to really grow together and last a long time.”

After 11 years without the playoffs and six straight losing seasons, most fans have no patience and want wins and don’t talk about building. Douglas knows this team needs to win for people to believe in what the Jets are doing.

“I feel like the energy that we’ve had since we came together in the OTAs, how it’s progressed through the OTAs, boot camp, you see the progress,” Douglas said. “But you’re right, you have to go out and prove it on Sundays.”

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