The behind-the-scenes offseason documentary event, Flight 2021: An Offseason with the New York Jets, aired on June 21, 2021.
If you haven’t had the chance to watch it yet, I highly recommend you do. The four-part docuseries was made for the Jets football junkie in us all, and it did not disappoint.
One of the main focuses was how the Jets went about scouting and game-planning for free agency and the draft.
With a surplus of draft capital and cap space after moves like the Jamal Adams trade, general manager Joe Douglas made clear his intentions to rebuild this franchise through the draft. Assistant GM Rex Hogan echoed that mindset in episode one of Flight 2021.
“It’s an opportunity to change and infuse some youth into our roster, and find the starters and find significant contributors and some developmental players who you hope can progress into that sub-starter role and hopefully starter down the road,” Hogan told the film crew.
Here’s the link to the entire first episode of Flight 2021.
What It Takes to Become a Jet
The Jets “standard” is not what it used to be. This franchise doesn’t just target any player with football talent or athleticism anymore, they’re looking for a perfect fit that encompasses a few different factors.
In episode one, director of college scouting for the Jets, Jon Carr, stated that the team is looking for “tone-setters,” “tempo-setters,” “culture-setters” and “guys that love the game.”
We always hear head coach Robert Saleh reiterate that last part, when he talks about how much his players “love ball,” an expression that has become synonomous with passion and dedication.
Just after Carr, Douglas adds that they are looking for players of “high-character” and “high-talent” that can create change within this organization.
For the draft in particular, Carr noted that his team scouted and ranked over 500 college athletes heading into April. Hogan and Carr both mentioned repeatedly that certain players did get eliminated from the Jets’ boards because of “character issues.”
Senior football advisor Phil Savage detailed the type of prospect that the Jets were targeting: “To put it in a simple statement it’s big, fast, physical, smart players that love the game and really want to extract everything that they can from their body and their mind and devote that to their career choice which is professional football.”
Based on all these assessments, Savage explained that the Jets’ wide net usually narrows down to 100 or so athletes that they really want.
On the other side of the integration, director of pro scouting Greg Nejmeh described the the first day of NFL free agency as his “Super Bowl.” He told the film crew that you want to be “methodical” during the legal tampering period, not “impulsive.”
Later in episode two of the docuseries, defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich talks about why they went after a pass-rusher like Carl Lawson: “It wasn’t necessarily just sacks that we were looking for. We were looking for guys that really consistently won the one-on-one and affected quarterbacks. Carl Lawson is exactly that.”
The DC also noted that the plan was to stock up on the defensive line (and offensive line on the other side of the ball) first, and then fill-in the back-end after which we’ve seen the Jets do during the draft.
On the offense, coordinator Mike LaFleur highlighted the versatility in the receiving core, and how each playmaker can add something different to this unit.
Check out episode two for in-depth analysis on a majority of the Jets free agent signings in 2021, as well as a couple players that were already on the roster like Quinnen Williams and Mekhi Becton.
Where Will the Jets Look Next in Free Agency?
“We’re usually looking a year in advance,” explained Hogan in episode two of Flight 2021. Nejmeh followed that up by adding that Douglas’ cap goals rely on flexibility, saying that the GM always wants to “have options and never feel like [the Jets] are backed into a corner.”
In 2021, the Jets determined that these free agents below fit that description above of what they were looking for to create this new brand and standard of Jets football.
- Corey Davis
- Dan Feeney
- Jarrad Davis
- Justin Hardee
- Keelan Cole
- Lamarcus Joyner
- Ronald Blair
- Sheldon Rankins
- Tevin Coleman
- Tyler Kroft
- Vinny Curry
The next piece that could join this impressive class is right tackle Morgan Moses, according to recent reports, another veteran that exemplifies leadership, football intelligence and passion.
I’ve said it before and I’ll reiterate it now, don’t expect Douglas to bring in any free agents that don’t fit the team-first culture that he’s been building at Florham Park.
That means available athletes like cornerbacks Steven Nelson and Josh Norman, or anyone else that has had organizational disputes in the past. On the flip side, quarterback Nick Foles and cornerback Richard Sherman still feel like perfect fits based on these requirements that match up with their known pedigree as team leaders and high-character players.
In Flight 2021, part-owner Christopher Johnson told the audience that Douglas and Saleh are “in complete sync about how you build a team,” including the “culture that team needs and how to get there.”
You can see that first-hand in the franchise-altering offseason we’ve just witnessed.