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Who’s tanking? Jets have eye on back-to-back wins

Josh McCown of the Jets stands on the

Josh McCown of the Jets stands on the sidelines with teammate Robby Anderson during the fourth quarter against the Dolphins at MetLife Stadium on Sept. 24, 2017 in East Rutherford, N.J. Credit: Jim McIsaac

For a rebuilding team that avoids using words such as “tanking,” the Jets have a chance to move to .500 on Sunday.

Yes, these same Jets, who started the season 0-2, can forge a two-game win streak if they beat the visiting Jaguars at MetLife Stadium.

Maybe getting to .500 is a foreign concept to defensive end Leonard Williams, who either didn’t hear a reporter’s question on Monday about it or didn’t understand it. There was a 10-second pause when asked about what it would mean to reach .500.

Quarterback Josh McCown answered quickly about what it would mean, especially after earning the first victory of the season on Sunday against the Dolphins.

“It’s a great feeling,” McCown said Monday. “Every team is different but I think with this group, as young as we are, for us to get that first one was important. I was in a situation in Cleveland where that drugged out for some time, so it’s a good feeling to get that first one out of the way and hopefully you can grab some momentum and get more.”

The last time the Jets were .500 was Week 2 of last season. After losing the 2016 season opener, the Jets beat the Bills in Week 2 before going on a four-game losing streak and finishing 5-11.

Of course, most Jets fans would probably rather the team not win too many games, given the talent level at quarterback in next spring’s draft. Tanking isn’t part of the conversations with Jets players and coaches. Progress is, though. The word is used quite a bit around this organization.

“No, we don’t pay too much attention to negativity, especially outside of our building,” receiver Robby Anderson said.

The Jets made things look easy Sunday in beating the Dolphins, 20-6, with the only score for the visitors coming as time expired. It was a dominant performance from the defense, especially the front seven, which held the Dolphins to just 30 yards. The Jets had allowed 370 rushing yards over the first two weeks of the season.

By curtailing the run defense, it set up the pass rush that sacked quarterback Jay Cutler three times and hurried him seven times. Safety Jamal Adams and inside linebacker Demario Davis had strong games. Davis had a game-high 12 tackles, 11 solo and three tackles for loss. Adams, a rookie, had a sack, two tackles for loss and a pass breakup.

The offense put forth a strong effort, too, as McCown threw a 69-yard touchdown pass to Anderson and finished with a season-high quarterback rating of 126.3.

Now the Jets must duplicate another strong game against the Jaguars (2-1) to earn their first two-game streak since Weeks seven and eight of last year.

Jets fans have mixed emotions regarding wins because it puts this franchise further away from a No. 1 overall pick. The NFL has five winless teams through three weeks, including the Giants, and at least three of those teams need a quarterback for the future.

“It’s hard but like I keep saying, it’s our job to put that stuff behind you and go play each and every week no matter what the circumstance is,” Jets cornerback Morris Claiborne said. “It makes it hard when you’re losing and you got to get up and go to work, it’s hard, that’s hard on your mind. You don’t know what to do but you can’t sit in sorrow. You have to go play no matter what.”

A chance to move to .500, get a two-game win streak, at home no less, has these Jets looking to build momentum, something most analysts didn’t believe was possible in the middle of September.

“It’s important because it’s the next game,” coach Todd Bowles said. “Obviously we don’t want to start 0-2 but we did and we won [Sunday]. The next game is important because it’s the next game but we definitely want to get on a winning streak and hopefully we can string some wins together and go from there and we got to concentrate on this week.”

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