1 to remember: Jets cherish first win, thrilled to avoid possible 0-16 season
Adam Gase was a coordinator on a team that reached a Super Bowl, but he said he never saw a group more excited after a win than the Jets were Sunday night.
That sentiment was felt and expressed by numerous Jets veterans the day after they lifted their record to 1-13 with a shocking 23-20 win over the heavily favored Rams in Los Angeles.
Defensive lineman Henry Anderson said he’s never been happier after a regular-season game.
Sam Darnold said the emotions he felt were different from those he experienced after any other win as a Jet.
"I know it’s a huge relief for a lot of the guys in the locker room to be able to get this win," he said on a conference call Monday. "It means the world to us. It was just a lot of emotion and excitement in the locker room after the game and on the flight back as well."
Plenty of Jets fans don’t share in the euphoria, though. They wanted their team to have a shot at Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence with the No. 1 pick.
The Jets themselves, however, didn’t want to be the third team in NFL history to go 0-16. They avoided that, but they also fell to second in the race for the top spot in the draft. The Jaguars and Jets both are 1-13, but Jacksonville has the strength-of-schedule tiebreaker and now is the front-runner to get that No. 1 pick.
The win may have hurt the Jets in the future, but the current Jets were never worried about that. They just didn’t want an 0-fer in this already terrible year, and they partied as much as you can after a regular-season game during a pandemic.
"It was pretty fun," Anderson said. "We had a nice little celebration in the locker room afterward. We’ve been working hard all season for a win and we finally got it. Guys were pretty pumped up.
"That’s probably the most excited and probably the best I’ve felt after a regular-season win, too. It definitely was a little bit different than normal. I guess that’s what happens when you start the season 0-13 and win your first game in Week 15. That was unlike any win I’ve ever been a part of afterward. The long flight home was definitely a lot more fun after a win, too."
Darnold, a Southern California native, said the Jets "were super-stoked" in the locker room and on the flight back.
"Amazing feeling" was how linebacker Neville Hewitt described Sunday night.
It had been nearly a calendar year between wins for the Jets. Their previous one was in the 2019 regular-season finale on Dec. 29 in Buffalo, a game in which the Bills sat many starters.
Only seven starters from that game started for the Jets on Sunday: Darnold, Anderson, Hewitt, Jamison Crowder, Quinnen Williams, Marcus Maye and Arthur Maulet.
"The excitement they had on the way home, it was fun to see," Gase said. "As somebody who’s been through a lot of different things in my career, I don’t think I’ve seen a group more excited after a game than what I saw last night."
Gase was the offensive coordinator of the Broncos when they had the best offense in NFL history in 2013. Denver reached the Super Bowl but lost to Seattle. Gase said because of the loss, "that season kind of fades away pretty quick" and that this situation is completely different.
"The fact that it’s this late in the season," he said, "the way that they kept fighting, the way that they stuck together and found a way to play a good game was something our guys should have been excited about."
Anderson said the Jets practiced this late in the season "as hard as or harder than" any of the other teams he’s played for in his six-year career. It was all to make sure they didn’t go winless.
"At 0-13, it’s easy for guys just to roll it in and say screw it," he said. "They could just not be paying attention in our virtual meetings and come out to practice with bad energy, just try to get through the rest of the season and go back home after our [final] game against the Patriots. We don’t have those type of guys in our locker room. We continue to fight.
"We practice hard . . . Just do every extra little thing we could to try to get a win, and it finally happened."