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Manish Mehta: GM Joe Douglas must come out of hiding, denounce Adam Gase and accept responsibility for Jets mess

Manish Mehta: GM Joe Douglas must come out of hiding, denounce Adam Gase and accept responsibility for Jets mess

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Joe Douglas spent the offseason waxing poetic about his mercurial head coach. He talked tough about "angry" folks offended by low preseason expectations and scoffed at "a quote-unquote soft schedule" down the stretch last season. He was defiant and arrogant, dismissing the notion the Jets were still a dysfunctional mess.

The general manager's brazenness has been replaced by silence amid an 0-6 start that has turned this franchise into a laughingstock. He has retreated and refused to explain this utter disgrace.

Leaders embrace challenges and shine during tough times. They provide hope.

They don't hide.

Douglas has chosen the easy path. He has stayed under the covers, wishing away this nightmare rather than confronting it.

There's a danger down this road, a stain that might never be removed if Douglas doesn't comport himself like the leader he was brought on to be.

The GM needs to hold himself partly responsible for the circus on 1 Jets Drive.

Although Douglas surely is aware Adam Gase will be gone soon enough, the GM must take a two-pronged stance. First and foremost, he must recommend to ownership that Gase be removed immediately. Secondly, he must hold himself publicly accountable for this dumpster fire.

The first part requires a backbone.

Although Gase doesn't technically report to Douglas, it's incumbent upon the GM to disassociate himself with a wildly unpopular and unsuccessful coach. Douglas might have been Gase's hand-picked successor to Mike Maccagnan, but that's irrelevant now.

The longer Douglas remains silent, the longer his words in the offseason linger.

Strike One: "I especially believe in Coach Gase," Douglas said on July 27. "I feel like he is the right coach to lead this team... I feel really good about where we are with him and his leadership."

Strike Two: "Adam's done as well as anybody in terms of rolling with the punches and adjusting on the fly," Douglas said on Sept. 7. "The communication has been on point. Communication has been direct and the leadership has been strong. So, I've been really impressed."

Douglas obviously looks silly with that stance given the realities of the day. The Jets are the only winless team in the league this season. Gase's team - which has been outscored by 110 points through six weeks - is on pace to have the worst point differential in NFL history.

Gase's offense has produced six touchdowns in six games. The average margin of defeat: 18.3 points.

If you didn't know better, you'd could have sworn that Benny Hill was blaring over the Hard Rock Stadium speakers on Sunday.

The stench is strong. It will stick with Gase, who will be remembered as an epic failure, forever.

But it doesn't have to follow Douglas if he rises to this moment.

Hiding in the shadows will only enrage Jets diehards looking for answers. Douglas shares some level of responsibility for this dumpster fire. He incredibly didn't add any impact players in free agency. He botched the Jamal Adams negotiations, lost a dare with Robby Anderson and placated his fickle coach by cutting Le'Veon Bell.

If not for Mekhi Becton landing in his lap in the draft, he would have very little to put on his resume except a sure-tackling rookie punter. Speaking of Becton, Douglas played a significant role in the reckless and irresponsible decision not to deactivate the left tackle four days after he was hurt. The GM also evidently didn't object to Sam Darnold returning to a game with a separated shoulder.

Along the way, Douglas assembled a new - but terrible - offensive line with little depth. He didn't provide sufficient play-makers to properly evaluate a 23-year-old quarterback that he privately claimed he really liked.

But he's the only person that diehards can turn to for hope. The head coach obviously isn't long for his gig. It's a tall order trusting a guy who said Gase was "coaching football to where it's going" only to double down by proclaiming the worst coach in America is a "brilliant offensive mind."

That leaves Douglas. If they can't believe in him, there's nobody else to turn to.

Apathy is slowly replacing anger among a frustrated fanbase tired of their team getting their derrieres kicked on cue. There are dark times, but Douglas can help by recommending to his boss that Gase be removed immediately.

Then, the GM should offer a public mea culpa, denounce Gase and start anew.

Leaders don't hide.

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