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Jets players are hungry to prove naysayers wrong, per GM Joe Douglas

Le'Veon Bell, Sam Darnold, Jets

The New York Jets are aware that outside expectations are relatively low for them in 2020, and GM Joe Douglas is aware that his players hear the (tempered) noise.

“Our guys don’t live in a bubble. We see the things that are said, we see the things that are written,” Douglas said Monday in a Zoom press conference with reporters. “It angers a lot of people.”

“I’m not going to be happy until we win the Super Bowl,” Douglas added—though nearly every coach, player and GM talk like that at the start of each season. Douglas avoided listing any specific goals for the Jets in 2020, such as hitting a win total or qualifying for the postseason.

Douglas, a former offensive lineman, prioritized revamping the protection for Sam Darnold ahead of the quarterback’s all-important third season. The Jets signed center Connor McGovern, tackle George Fant, and guard Greg Van Roten, then drafted high-ceiling left tackle Mekhi Becton with the No. 11 overall pick in the draft.

“No one is saying this is the Hogs or anything crazy,” Douglas said about the new-look O-Line, “but this is a group you see getting better every day.”

On the other hand, the Jets traded their best player from 2019, All-Pro safety Jamal Adams, in July because of a long-standing contract impasse, and Pro Bowl middle linebacker C.J. Mosley opted out of the season due to COVID-19 concerns.

Only two players on the current roster have made a Pro Bowl: running backs Le’Veon Bell and Frank Gore—neither of whom is considered to be in his prime (though Bell is in great shape, according to coach Adam Gase). ESPN failed to include even one Jet in its annual ranking of the league’s 100 best players.

“Obviously, there were good players that were on this team last year that aren’t playing this year,” Douglas said about his roster. “But just going through this camp, I can tell you there are some guys on this team that may not be household names, but they are good football players. Their mission is to go out and become a household name.”

The Jets will get their first chance to surprise the naysayers on Sunday in a road matchup against the Buffalo Bills, which Douglas called “a great challenge.”

“I know there’s a lot of hungry guys that want to go out there and just prove a lot of people wrong, frankly,” he added.

Douglas cited uncertainty about the 2021 cap as a reason they avoided expensive free agents.

“We have a vision, we have a game plan on what we’re trying to accomplish,” Douglas said. “We want to have the flexibility so when the right player presents itself, the right opportunity, we are going to be aggressive. It may seem like we’re not doing that right now, but we do have a vision.”

The Jets have about $30 million in cap space, but chose not to acquire any high-profile talent such as  Jadeveon Clowney or Yannick Ngakoue this offseason—despite their need for an edge rusher.