Sam Darnold was biggest selling point for Jets GM Joe Douglas


It is Sam Darnold who holds in his golden right hand the key to making sure this new collaborative partnership between the soft-spoken talent-evaluator whiz and alpha male offensive guru can function the way winners are supposed to function inside an organization that has known far too much dysfunction, from Weeb Ewbank Hall to the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center.

If you come to New York with the idea of building a champion, if you come to New York with the idea of coaching a champion, even for a franchise that hasn’t won a championship since Jan. 12, 1969, it doesn’t seem like such an Impossible Dream if you have a Sam Darnold waiting to greet you at the front door.

New Jets general manager Joe Douglas was introduced on Tuesday and no one was happier than new Jets coach Adam Gase, because he can now concentrate on helping Darnold make that critical second-year leap. Douglas is the partner he wanted, a culture builder and a communicator and a collaborator respected all around the NFL. Douglas is no Yes Man, and while it is inevitable there will be disagreements on players with Gase, there is no disagreement on who they believe will take them where they want to go.

“There was a sense of urgency in Philadelphia knowing that we had a young quarterback and we want to put the pieces around him,” Douglas said, “and I think there’s gonna be that same urgency anywhere, but especially with a young quarterback like Sam.

“Once you know you have the right guy, that’s a sense of urgency, let’s go win right now. I feel like that confidence is here right now.”

It is too late for Douglas to dramatically impact the 2019 roster, but at least former GM Mike Maccagnan left him the crown jewel.

“I would say most open positions like this, you walk into a franchise where you don’t have that piece of a puzzle,” Douglas said.

Gase walked into the Dolphins with Ryan Tannehill.

“It’s so tough to evaluate college quarterbacks,” Gase said, “and when you have a guy that just turned 22, that’s gotta be an attractive piece being a GM because you’re not looking to spend a first-round draft pick on a quarterback, and that’s a lot of pressure lifted off your shoulders.”

Nick Foles led Douglas and the Eagles to their first Super Bowl championship, but Darnold will be his designated Carson Wentz.

“Love his athleticism, love his ability to go through progressions,” Douglas said. “I think he’s a unique guy … he’s a very young player, just turned 22, but he shows ability to have his eyes and feet to work through progressions quickly, and he throws an accurate ball. And just hearing about his leadership ability at such a young age is exciting, real exciting.”

Gase had Peyton Manning at the end of his career, then Jay Cutler, then Tannehill. His eyes bulge when he begins gushing about Darnold.

“Some of the throws he makes in practice, I’m just like, ‘I have no idea what made him go there, what made him throw that ball, how he got it in there,’ ” Gase said. “You can see the players around him really … they know he’s good. They know what the ability he has, and it’s just we’re all trying to hurry up and mill this stuff as well as we can.”

Douglas, built like the offensive lineman he once was, knows exactly what it will take to help Darnold pilot a Jet takeoff.

“This is a game of wills,” Douglas said, “and we’re gonna try to build a team that can impose their will on other teams. And then it’s about dynamic and explosive playmakers, both sides of the ball.”

For all their outward differences, Douglas and Gase are passionate football guys who hate to lose and share a mutual respect.

“Coaches trust him,” Gase said.

But what about those occasions when they will challenge each other?

“You see the size of him?” Gase cracked.

Bill Parcells was an alpha male and George Young was professorial, and it worked.

“He’s just such an easy guy to connect with,” Gase said of Douglas. “He probably likes my insanity a little bit.”

When you know you’ve inherited a young franchise quarterback, it’s much easier to keep your sanity.