If the New York Jets go 0-16, it’s not because they were trying. They’re just that bad.
The Jets are 0-9, with a clear path to a winless season. If the Jets lose every remaining game they will get the No. 1 overall pick. Assuming Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence doesn’t stay in school or try to pull a John Elway/Eli Manning and force a trade, the Jets would then draft one of the best quarterback prospects in decades.
For a franchise that has been searching for a top-flight quarterback since Joe Namath, that’s a big deal. It’s easy to wonder if, organizationally, the Jets understand that getting Lawrence is far better than winning a game or two the rest of the season.
That said, coach Adam Gase said tanking hasn’t been mentioned in the Jets’ building.
Adam Gase: Nobody has talked about tanking
The Jets have gotten rid of veterans to play younger players, which is what 0-9 teams should be doing. They cut cornerback Pierre Desir this week. It perpetuates the belief that the Jets are trying to lose.
Gase said that tanking has never been brought up.
"Nobody has talked about that," Gase said, via ESPN. "We're just trying to play young guys. We're trying to get guys experience."
The perception of what’s going on doesn’t matter either.
"We can't worry about what anybody else thinks," Gase said. "We're trying to get guys better that are here and we're trying to figure out ways to win games."
It’s believable. NFL teams, in certain situations, are probably better off tanking. But it’s not like players and coaches are planning it.
Jets still trying to win
The members of the Jets don’t care about Lawrence. The current players want to play well for their own careers. You’re not going to convince a professional to put a poor effort on tape for the other 31 teams to see.
Coaches are unlikely to care much either. Gase likely doesn’t have the job security to worry about who the Jets’ quarterback will be in 2021. And it’s not like it’ll be easy for him to get another head-coaching job after failed stints with the Miami Dolphins and Jets. An 0-16 doesn’t look good on anyone’s resumé.
The Jets can make moves like cutting Le’Veon Bell or trading Avery Williamson, but they aren’t going to convince the locker room or coaching staff to lose on purpose. It doesn’t happen that way.
The Jets are the front-runner to win the Lawrence sweepstakes. If that happens, they’ll have earned it.
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