Count Joe Namath among those who was stunned and a little disappointed that the Jets beat the Rams on Sunday.
The victory could cost them the chance to draft Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Namath, who led the Jets to their only championship in Super Bowl III, wants to see Lawrence in a Jets uniform.
"I’m not trying to talk down about Sam Darnold," Namath said in an interview with Inside the NFL that aired on Showtime on Tuesday night. "He’s going to be in the league 15-20 years. Who knows? He’s a good player. But this guy from Clemson, Lawrence, he’s special. He’s very special.
"I think I saw him outrun the secondary of Notre Dame last week. He’s got speed. He’s got touch on his pass. He’s smart. He goes everywhere. He hasn’t shown a negative that I’ve seen in the last few years. And when you get a chance to get an animal like that on your team with those qualities, I don’t know how you can say no."
The victory, the Jets’ first after 13 losses, dropped them in the chase for Lawrence.
They’re tied with Jacksonville for the NFL’s worst record. The Jaguars have the tiebreaker because they’ve played an easier schedule. If the Jaguars lose their remaining two games, they will have the No. 1 pick.
"After watching [the Jets] play the entire season up to that point," Namath said, "I didn’t figure they were going to win a game, especially against the Rams that day. Naturally, I was looking forward to being in the No. 1 draft position being very advantageous for our team. So I was surprised."
Namath said this terrible season falls on the coaches, and particularly Adam Gase.
When Gase was hired, Namath was in favor of it. Namath lives in Florida and got to know Gase and thought he would help the Jets succeed. They are enduring one of the worst seasons in franchise history, if not the worst.
"You’ve got to question the leadership. You’ve got to question the daily leadership," Namath said. "The leadership, the coaching staff in its entirety has to be looked at because I believe the players try hard every play. They’re getting evaluated, and in the locker room, teammates can look around that locker room and know who is focused in the meetings, in practice and in games. They can recognize the guys that really want it."
"It’s the leadership, they have to do something about that."
Team CEO Christopher Johnson is expected to fire Gase after the Jets’ final game of the season.