Thirty miles east of Jets headquarters and two hours before their rookie general manager, Joe Douglas, stood at the lectern inside the media interview room to conduct his season wrap-up press conference, his Giants counterpart was being peppered, skewered and grilled by reporters.
Unlike Giants general manager Dave Gettleman, who controversially survived the Monday firing of head coach Pat Shurmur, Douglas didn’t have a lot to answer for on Tuesday, because he hasn’t been around long enough to do anything really wrong.
Not yet, anyway.
Unlike Gettleman’s press conference, during which he faced a barrage of questions about the questionable personnel moves he has made that resulted in a 4-12 season and the firing of the head coach, Douglas’ 23-minute session was rather mellow.
It didn’t include any of the pithy one-liners, headline-magnet proclamations or banter with reporters on which Gettleman seems to thrive.
Unlike the bombastic, cocksure Gettleman, who sometimes speaks like he had a part in inventing the NFL, Douglas is much more humble.
Douglas is a mystery for Jets fans. All season, he has been the quiet man in the corner at visiting press boxes watching his new team, presumably assessing what he has and how to fix it.
A former New York Times sportswriting colleague, Gerald Eskenazi, who was a mentor when I first arrived on the Jets beat for The Post in the early 90s, always used to say: “You can learn a lot by observing.”
Well, no one has spent more time observing the Jets for the past six months than Douglas.
He was hired in early June, after free agency and the draft, so he hasn’t been in position to make a lot of franchise-altering moves yet.
Douglas whiffed on the training-camp signing of retired center Ryan Kalil. He didn’t handle the kicking situation well, which played a part in losing the season opener to the Bills.
But his acquisition of tight end Ryan Griffin right before camp and his trade for guard Alex Lewis were pluses, as was his claim of former Patriots receiver Braxton Berrios, who finished second in the league in punt return average.
Now, however, comes the big stuff.
Now, Douglas has free agency and the draft ahead of him. He has the chance to sculpt this team into what he wants it to be. And for the sake of Jets fans, hopefully that will be a winner, considering the nine long years fans have watched and waited since the most recent playoff berth.
Now we find out about Douglas and his philosophies. How committed is he to keeping the top talent that’s already on the roster? How aggressive will he be in free agency, with somewhere between $60 million and $80 million to spend?
Among the in-house decisions Douglas must make include locking up safety Jamal Adams with a contract extension, retaining running back Le’Veon Bell — unless someone blows him away with an offer of a first- or second-round pick — and re-signing receiver Robby Anderson, but not for the silly $13 million or $14 million-per-year he reportedly is seeking.
After that, Douglas must — and will — fix the broken offensive line, which needs at least three new starters in 2020.
“The line of scrimmage is always going to be a priority here,” said Douglas, a former college offensive lineman. “There’s a lot of work to do. We’ve got 20-plus UFA and RFAs [actually 24 free agents], eight draft picks, with four in the top 80. So, a lot of work, a lot of detail and preparations that are going to go into the coming months to execute our plan.
“What is our plan? The plan is to create the best culture in sports. You see that in every great team.”
It all sounds the part from behind a lectern and no game to be played for nearly nine months, but a playoff berth in 2020 would be a good start.
“Right after the trade deadline, we were 1-6 and we were getting ready to be 1-7, and one of the messages I had to the team and everybody was we as an organization need to handle adversity better,” Douglas said. “I feel like the backstretch of the season, we did that. This team faced a lot of adversity.
“There was every opportunity to roll over and no one did. Going 6-2, that’s not luck. The hope — I won’t even say hope, because hope is not a strategy — the plan moving forward is [the finish to the 2019 season] is a launchpad for us.”
Where that takes the Jets with Douglas’ stamp on them will have a lot to say about the tenor of his season-wrapping press conference a year from now.