Sports

Dear Jets: There’s Hope to Be Found in a Winless Season. Take It From Someone Who Knows.

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Only two N.F.L. teams in history have gone 0-16 since the regular season expanded to 16 games in 1978: the Detroit Lions in 2008 and the Cleveland Browns in 2017.

It appears the 2020 Jets (0-9) are making a run at joining them.

Yet here are some reassurances that fans should keep in mind: No team gives up, even in the face of injuries, smack talk or other adversity on and off the field. And no coach guides a team toward losing in order to gain a top draft spot, though some people have suggested that is the case with the Jets’ Adam Gase.

At least that is the view from someone who has been there, Hue Jackson, who was the head coach of the Browns during their 0-16 season.

“That was the best coaching job I’ve ever done,” he insisted in a telephone interview on Thursday.

Jackson had to keep his team focused, ready and excited every week throughout a season with little hope of a win. That year, the Browns were the youngest team in the league.

“We could see that we needed to go get better talent to provide a winning opportunity for our players,” said Jackson, who was fired in October 2018 with a record of 3-36-1 over his two and half seasons with the Browns. “But we kept going by the grace of God, and belief in our players and selves as coaches.”

The Jets, after shedding some older players, are relying heavily on rookies, and Gase has said that the team is aiming to train younger players for the coming years.

Gase is 7-18-0 with the Jets, and he might not be around for long if things don’t improve.

Mathematically, the Jets have no way of getting to the playoffs. But there is a good chance they will acquire Clemson’s dynamic quarterback, Trevor Lawrence, with the No. 1 pick next spring, assuming he enters the 2021 N.F.L. draft and the Jets continue being worse than the Jacksonville Jaguars, who were 1-8 heading into their game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.

Gase and his players have insisted they are not tanking. “Nobody’s talked about that,” Gase said in a call with reporters on Wednesday.

On Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers, Joe Flacco will make his fourth start at quarterback for the Jets while Sam Darnold continues to recover from a shoulder injury. The timeline for Darnold’s return is blurred; many fans and Twitter users have wondered if he will be out of a job by draft time.

When you’re a Jet, looking for the bright side seems a prerequisite. And on Friday Williams was no exception, saying: “We had one of best practices since I’ve been here in two years today.”

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