Jets’ change could make all the difference: ‘Guys give a [bleep]’
10th October 2020

Jordan Jenkins referred to it as “the definition of insanity.’’

The Jets linebacker was referring to doing the same things over and over, but expecting different results.

The Jets are trying to exit the hamster wheel. They’re trying to do that as fast as they can, beginning with Sunday’s game against the Cardinals at MetLife Stadium.

The Jets did it last season. It was just too late. They turned 1-7 into 7-9.

Can they extricate themselves from a dismal 0-4 start this season before it’s too late?

With starting quarterback Sam Darnold out indefinitely with a right shoulder injury, and after a late-week COVID-19 positive test scare that scrapped Friday’s practice, it seems unlikely.

The teams are different, the 2019 group and this year’s team, but some players, like Jenkins, remain. The question is whether those players who were on the 2019 team that closed 6-2 can summon up any similar things they did to change the course of a horrendous season.

Coach Adam Gase, who has been searching for answers, shook up practice this week, going directly to more physical team drills early in practice, pitting the starting offense against the starting defense, in an effort to spark his players.

Gase, too, spoke about the large number of players who have come forward to ask him what they can do more and do better to help the team out of its latest funk.

“I don’t remember ever having as many guys coming to me, making suggestions, talking through ways to get things fixed, how can we address certain things,’’ Gase said.

“Yeah, that shows that guys give a [bleep], excuse my French,’’ Jenkins said. “In the past, there were teams where guys were losing and were like, ‘OK, we’re losing, eventually we’ll get it right,’ and then doing the same thing and getting the same results.

“Guys from every part of the team have asked, ‘What can we do to change, because whatever we’ve been doing is not working?’ ’’

Jenkins recalled a key element last season that helped prevent the Jets from turning 1-7 into 1-15.

“The one thing we did was guys didn’t point fingers,’’ Jenkins said. “We had meetings as a team and, in front of everybody, all the mistakes that were made were called out. The play you messed up or the mental error you had was pointed out in front of the team and coaches, and it got corrected then and there.

“That’s something we might be doing moving forward, because no one wants to be dogged out in front of the whole team. It’s embarrassing.’’

So, too, is starting winless, looking noncompetitive in the first three games and beating themselves in the fourth — last Thursday’s loss to the Broncos — by committing 11 penalties for 118 yards, including six personal-foul infractions. Jets penalties gave the Broncos seven free first downs, which is inexcusable.

Gase, who sternly lectured his entire team about the penalty issue after the Denver game, guaranteed a stop to the nonsense.

“It’s going to be corrected,’’ he vowed. “We’re going to do it right. If we can’t do it the right way, then we need to get different guys in there.’’

Safety Marcus Maye said players being threatened with their jobs is “just the nature of our business,’’ adding, “If you can’t get your job done, they’re going to find somebody to do it.’’

Gase sounded encouraged by his players’ willingness to be better. Whether willingness is enough to overcome talent deficiency is another story.

“The biggest thing that we’ve talked about to guys is about doing more,’’ Gase said. “If we want to get things turned around, we’ve got to put in more time whether it be on or off the field, extra walk-throughs, make sure we kind of move practice around, do some different things, emphasize some different periods, expand the meeting times.

“Everybody’s got to put forth more effort. Whatever we were doing before wasn’t enough. So, I think guys have done a good job of really spending time at the building, trying to spend time with their groups. They’re trying to figure out a way to get things fixed.’’

Can last season’s turnaround experience help this season?

“A lot of those guys that were on this roster last year that I watched fight through a pretty rough start and found ways to get better and found ways to win games, they know sometimes it just takes one game and things turn around,’’ Gase said.

Maybe Sunday against the Cardinals (2-2) will be that game. Maybe it won’t.

But if we’re to believe what we’ve heard this week from the Jets, at least they’ll be taking a different approach. Maybe that’ll translate into a different result.

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