Dyer: The Jets Are Giving a Reason to Believe That They Aren't the Same Old
It has been a frustrating year for Adam Gase, the first-year head coach of the New York Jets whose team still seems to be stuck in what is becoming a perpetual rebuild for this franchise. But Gase and the Jets might finally be headed in the right direction, a sense perhaps that pieces of the rebuild are slowly if somewhat painfully coming together.
The tone for the season was set within the opening two weeks. Not only did the Jets blow a 16-point lead to the Buffalo Bills at home in the season opener, just days later they found out that their franchise quarterback, the 22-year old Sam Darnold, was diagnosed with the ‘kissing disease.’ Only the Jets could see their quarterback miss a month of the NFL season with an illness often associated with hormonal high schoolers.
But such is life for the Jets, at least this year. For a franchise that, in this past decade alone, has endured everything from the ‘Butt fumble’ to head coach Rex Ryan’s foot fetish video and a defensive player punching out a starting quarterback over owed money, things rarely surprise around the Jets anymore.
Oh, and don’t forget an assistant coach tripping a player on the sideline. That was something else too.
For a team that has not only seen it all but managed to invent a few headscratchers along the way, this year has managed to still lend even more embarrassments and gaffes. But that narrative might now be changing.
For these Jets aren’t bowing to the whims of fan sentiment or the perception being painted around their 3-7 team. In consecutive weeks, the Jets have beaten two pretty bad teams. These weren’t pretty football games.
But they were wins and that shouldn’t be ignored. This time last year, the Jets may not have risen up a level to beat these teams and instead, might have found a way to lose. That is the norm around this team, the standard way of operating. Play down to the level of the opponent and find a way to lose miserably, especially true if it can be done in a heartbreaking fashion.
Even at the beginning of the year, the Jets might not have responded to this adversity. They might have caved in and found a way to lose. But they didn’t, not the past two weeks.
Here they are, suddenly believing in themselves.
It has taken the team’s biggest stars to lift a roster of no names and journeymen to their first win streak of the season. Safety Jamal Adams has produced five sacks over these two wins, seemingly willing the defense to another level.
Quarterback Sam Darnold has limited mistakes and played with confidence, looking like the rookie who shone for stretches last year. And running back Le’Veon Bell, billed as troublesome and a malcontent, has taken big hits on the field and preached solidarity off of it.
In these three star players, the Jets have found a foundation for the future.
This isn't to say that the team has arrived or is perfect, let's not read too much into two wins over bad teams. There is still work to be done. But that Gase has been able to churn out results and rally the team in the face of mocking adversity says something about this rebuild different.
It makes it feel different than all the other countless rebuilds that came and went with precious little staying power. Like maybe this one has some substance to it.
This team has responded to the criticism of their head coach and of the personnel in the locker room in recent weeks by fighting and gritting their way through these last two games. The formula for the Jets has been one predicated on effort and limiting the costly mistakes that haunted them like so many ghosts earlier this season.
It hasn’t been a beautiful brand of football. They didn’t beat a playoff team during this stretch. But the Jets did what they were supposed to do.
And they didn’t fold as was expected.
A team as snake-bitten the past eight years as these Jets, the worst is seemingly the norm. But with each passing day, and now with consecutive wins, there are signs of progress. And perhaps more than that, there is belief.
This team and franchise needs hope to build upon, a reason to wake up and slug it out through the remaining six games on the schedule. The rest of this season might not produce many more wins, perhaps one or two more. But maybe that is enough, to simply see this thing slowly come together.
To believe that the Jets may have finally gotten things right for once and that there is a process with a clear-cut focus. That change might actually be here.
That the same old is simply no more.