EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Maybe he's just being cautious, but new Jets GM Joe Douglas wasn't ready to guarantee a playoff berth on Saturday night. He wouldn't even commit to meaningful games in September. He preferred to keep his hopes to himself.
And maybe that's good, because the more Douglas spoke, the more this much was clear: No matter how good anyone thinks the Jets are right now, there's still a lot of work left to do.
The good news, though, is Douglas believes there's still time left and opportunities for him to do it. During a surprise press conference a few hours before the Jets took on the Saints in the third preseason game on Saturday night, the rookie GM discussed holes on his roster at corner, receiver and edge rusher, for starters.
And he seemed confident those were holes he could plug.
"We have an opportunity to really upgrade this team," Douglas said. "We've got the third waiver claim and we plan on using it. We're fired up."
Now, even with that third spot in the waiver order, fixing a team's problems by claiming castoffs from other teams isn't exactly a sure-fire formula for success. But at this point - barring an unlikely blockbuster trade - it's the only avenue Douglas has. And there are gems that can be found in other team's trash. That's Douglas' job: To find them.
"There's going to be opportunities, whether it's trades, whether it's claims," Douglas said. "There's going to be guys really from that 46th spot on the roster, all the way to 63 (including the practice squad), where you can really bring in guys that can help you at those spots."
Again, he's talking about bottom-of-the-roster players. He wouldn't close the door on a major move for a starter, but it's fantasy football at this point to think one will be available. Mostly what Douglas can do now would be considered nothing but tinkering with the roster - even at the key spots he discussed.
Douglas said "we feel good" about the Jets' "top guys" at cornerback. Presumably he means Trumaine Johnson, Daryl Roberts and Brian Poole. Of course, Johnson has a hamstring injury and there's no guarantee he'll be ready by opening day. And Roberts is a bit of an unknown.
The rest of the group? Well, Douglas said he feels like "there's been great competition" - which isn't exactly a ringing endorsement. He praised first-year pro Tevaughn Cambell and rookie Alex Brown, but it sounded like corner will be a priority when he wields his waiver-claiming power.
"We're constantly evaluating guys around the league," Douglas said. "I feel good about the way those young guys (on the Jets roster) have played, but we're going to be looking to upgrade."
Douglas admitted this position will be "a priority for us." The problem, of course, is it's "really a focus for every time." So edge rushers aren't going to be easy to find and he may have to be OK with what he's got.
And what is that? Well, he said Jordan Jenkins "has had a great camp". He praised Frankie Luvu and Tarell Bashum and said he's excited to see Harvey Langi.
That's not exactly an inspiring list? Well, former NFL GM Mike Lombardi reported that Jadeveon Clowney, the Houston Texans' holdout star, will be traded within the next 24-48 hours. Could it be the Jets? Well, Douglas didn't sound like he had a big deal imminent, but he was careful not to rule anything out.
The Jets have been a little active on this front in the past week, making a play for Dontrelle Inman before he landed back with the Los Angeles Chargers, and signing former Ravens receiver Quincy Adeboyejo.
So yeah, the Jets want some depth, but Douglas said. "We actually feel good about quite a few of our guys. We have some proven guys, guys that have done it in the league." Clearly he was talking about Quincy Enunwa, Robby Anderson, Jamison Crowder, and even Josh Bellamy. But he also had praise for younger players like Deontay Burnett and rookie Greg Dortch who have "brought some juice" to the team.
But they are looking, no doubt, and a waiver pickup at this spot wouldn't be shocking.
Douglas didn't inherit this mess, but he hasn't done much to fix it, either. Once Chandler Catanzaro retired (after missing two extra points in the preseason opener), Douglas did try to trade for Ravens kicker Kaare Vedvik (who went to Minnesota instead). But so far he hasn't brought in any competition for Taylor Bertolet, who missed two extra points of his own in the last preseason game.
"Taylor had a great week of camp," Douglas said. "Right now he's our kicker. This is a big night for him. We're going to evaluate him and see how he does."
In other words, don't be surprised to see another kicker in camp next week, especially if Bertolet struggles on Saturday night. And maybe one is coming anyway, because Douglas did admit "There's always value in the proven commodity."
Of course, there aren't many proven commodities available at kicker right now. But that could change when Douglas starts making his waiver claims.