January 26, 2021

NFL Week 15 Recap: The New York Jets finally won a game. Now what?

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The New York Jets’ first victory of the season — a 23-20 win over the...

The New York Jets’ first victory of the season — a 23-20 win over the Los Angeles Rams to lift their record to 1-13 — reminds NFL Recap of the historic cartoon moment when the Coyote finally caught the Roadrunner. Congratulations: you finally got what you were chasing for all of this time! But, is it really what you wanted? Is it really what’s best for you? Or did the Jets cause themselves an all-new set of problems by jeopardizing their chance to draft Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence with the first overall pick with a meaningless late-season win? Here’s Recap’s breakdown of how the Jets should proceed, starting with Adam Gase.

The New York Jets still need to fire Adam Gase

If Gase somehow wins three straight games to end the season and gaslights Jets owners Woody and Chris Johnson into retaining him, it will set the organization back another half-decade. Sadly, it would also be in character for Gase (he’s the Leonardo Da Vinci of holding onto jobs despite thundering incompetence) and the Johnsons (wealthy doofuses living off a baby powder fortune).

Adam Gase must go, and hopefully, everyone in the Jets organization figured that out sometime in early October.

The Jets still need to draft a quarterback

Sam Darnold looked OK in Sunday’s win with 207 yards and one touchdown. He still alternates decent performances with nightmarish ones, which is not a ringing scouting report for a third-year quarterback. Still, it’s tempting to think Darnold could enjoy a Ryan Tannehill-like resurgence once he is liberated from Gase and the New York Jets. That could happen: lots of players magically get better the moment Gase disappears.

Related | The race for the #1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft between the Jaguars and Jets

It’s more likely that Darnold would have a lukewarm-at-best year in 2021 while the next Jets head coach makes plans to bring in “his guy” because that’s what usually happens to fading prospects during coaching changes. Under the circumstances, the Jets should select the next coach’s “guy” while they possess what will almost certainly remain a top-three draft pick.

Yes, the New York Jets should play to win for the next two games

Ignore the Jacksonville Jaguars. Ignore the draft order. The New York Jets must focus on evaluating the players on the current roster and doing everything possible to help youngsters develop. Yes, it’s ridiculous to give Frank Gore 23 carries at this point. But the Jets have gotten some strong games from receiver Denzel Mims, running back Ty Johnson (touchdown on Sunday) left tackle Mekhi Becton, cornerback Bryce Hall (an interception on Sunday), and other youngsters in recent weeks. Getting the most out of this year’s draft class is more important than trying to play galactic chess to game the system for next year’s class.

The Miami Dolphins should be the Jets’ role models

Remember when the Dolphins ruined their chance to “Tank for Tua” by winning five games after starting the year 0-7, including the final two games of the 2019 season? Well, the Dolphins look pretty darn good now, don’t they? And they still ended up with Tua Tagovailoa!

No, Trevor Lawrence is unlikely to fall to the Jets with the second or third pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. But maybe the next Jaguars decision-makers will fall in love with Gardner Minshew. Or perhaps they will be amenable to a trade. Or the New York Jets may discover they like another quarterback prospect as much as Lawrence.

Either way, with two first-round picks in 2021 and an estimated $72 million in cap dough to spend, the Jets could become competitive relatively quickly, especially if they show a few more flickers of life down the stretch.

Again: getting better is more important than getting any one player. That “lesser” prospect they end up with could be next year’s Justin Herbert.

What’s next for the New York Jets?

The Cleveland Browns will have a lot to play for in Week 16. The New England Patriots will have nothing to play for in Week 17. But thanks to the race for the first overall pick, both games will be meaningful for Jets fans, Jaguars fans, draftniks, and rubberneckers who find bad football fascinating.

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