The Jets celebrated a 23-20 upset victory over the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium Sunday afternoon. If I didn’t know any better, they may as well have won the Super Bowl by the way they celebrated their first win of the season, especially against a Super Bowl contender. No doubt this upset produced the NFL’s biggest upset of the season.
Jets fans expressed outrage on Twitter and sports radio for their team having the audacity to win this game. Some even tweeted to Jets players and the Jets Twitter account about how stupid this win was.
This shows a disconnect between fans and players. The fans want what’s best for tomorrow and that is tanking and being so bad to get the No. 1 draft pick, which you might be aware that Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence is the consensus favorite to be that pick. The players and coaches just want to celebrate a win after putting in all the hard work during practice the entire week.
For fans to expect players and coaches to purposely lose is unrealistic. Even Rachel Phelps’ Indians in the movie “Major League” could not pull it off as she tried to field a bad team to get fans not to come to see them in Cleveland so that she can move that franchise to Miami. The never-say-die Indians managed to win a one-game playoff against the New York Yankees to win the American League East.
Teams tried hard to tank to get the No. 1 pick such as last year’s Miami Dolphins, and that did not end up well. The Dolphins tanked with the idea they wanted to draft then-Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa as the No. 1 pick, but it turned out they still got their guy after his hip injury scared other suitors in the draft.
The Jets won’t get that luxury.
Here’s the point of all this: It’s hard to tank in a 16-game NFL season. Tanking works in the NHL, MLB, and NBA because there are so many games a week that make a long season. An NFL team can run into dumb luck on Any Given Sunday as we saw with the Jets on Sunday. It happens.
Players risk their lives playing football, so to expect them to lay down and get hurt in the process is something they can never do.
The NFL is a big boy league in a sense these guys expect to give their best every Sunday no matter the circumstances. No one wants to cheat the fans and themselves when they are on the field.
Believe it or not, players and coaches don’t want to be associated with being 0-16 on their resume. A proud veteran like Frank Gore doesn’t want to retire after this season by having that 0-16 stigma to remember forever. Sam Darnold does not want 0-16 on his resume, and he does not want to be the Jets quarterback that led the star-crossed franchise to an 0-16 record. Adam Gase knows he is done as a Jets coach, but he doesn’t want to be fired with an 0-16 record.
For anyone that says how is 1-15 or 2-14 any better, that’s missing the point. Players play to win, and coaches coach to win. They not only play or coach for themselves, but they play or coach for their next job in case things don’t work out for the Jets.
They aim to finish a frustrating Jets season on an upbeat note by winning three in a row. To them, a 3-13 season would represent persistence when it comes to winning games after being on pace to be 0-16 this season. I thought this was an 0-16 team after October.
The Jets should have beaten the Las Vegas Raiders a few weeks ago until then-Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams called for a blitz that would leave Raiders receiver Henry Ruggs III open, and Raiders quarterback Derek Carr threw a 46-yard touchdown pass to him with 5 seconds left, giving the Raiders a 31-28 victory at MetLife Stadium. The Jets fired Williams the next day.
Sooner or later, the Jets would eventually pull off a victory. It happened on Sunday.
Let’s say the Jets get the No. 2 pick. It wouldn’t be the worst thing for them. They can focus on drafting a running back like Clemson’s Travis Etienne or draft a game-changing wide receiver in Alabama’s DeVonta Smith or God forbid an offensive lineman to protect a quarterback or running back.
Even if they win the No. 1 pick and draft Lawrence, the Jets need to draft a supporting cast for him to be in a position to succeed or else he would be as useless as Mark Sanchez or Darnold. As hopeless Darnold appears right now, he showed glimpses he can play like a star as he demonstrated Sunday against the Rams. Maybe if the Jets spend money on an offensive lineman and a wide receiver along with drafting those needs, Darnold can succeed.
Darnold experienced adversity. If the Jets draft Lawrence, not only they would start over, it would remain to be seen if the Clemson star can handle playing in New York and dealing with tough times as a pro.
The Jets can win with Darnold if Jets general manager Joe Douglas plays it right by drafting well and spending well. They can have a quick turnaround with their current quarterback than a rookie quarterback would be learning how to play in the NFL.
Also, there’s no guarantee Lawrence can succeed with the Jets. If the Jets keep making mistakes by not drafting an offensive lineman or a wide receiver or them turning out to be bust when Mark Sanchez and Darnold were around, Lawrence will have the same problem as those two quarterbacks.
Face it. The Jets became interesting by winning yesterday. There’s a reason to watch them in the final two weeks of the season. Fans can now wonder if they lose or win. They can pay attention to the Jacksonville Jaguars, who are due for a win after winning their last game in Week 1.
This Jets season provides intrigue just by getting a win.
In what has been an uninspired NFL season as usual in our town, we can be thankful for small things like Sunday.