T-A-N-K Tank! by Matt Cullen

T-A-N-K Tank! by Matt Cullen
Reading Time: 3 minutes.

“Tank” verb; The act of a professional sports team losing on purpose in order to seemingly improve their future 

“The Jets are tanking for Trevor Lawrence”

It’s a strange feeling waking up as a Jets fan on a miserable Monday morning. The news outside of the NFL world is full of gloom in 2020, and the Jets season has mirrored this. 

But the proverbial light that has shone through after the performance on Sunday that guaranteed Gang Green do not join the infamy of the ‘08 Lions and ‘17 Browns is posing a curious question – was it worth it? 

As a Jets fan, the last 10 years have not been easy. The continued divisional dominance of the Patriots, coupled with poor drafting and some awful decision making throughout key levels of the organisation, has seen the Jets compile a miserable 58-100 record since reaching 2 consecutive AFC championship games at the turn of the last decade, with just one winning season under Todd Bowles in that time. 

In 2019, Adam Gase’s charges managed to win 6 of their last 8 games to effectively save his job after starting 1-7. 

The optimism us fans felt after what appeared to be a decent draft was soon sucked from our souls. 13 straight losses. Dead last in offensive yards and points per game. Defensive side of the ball hardly any better, 29th in yds/gm and 28th in pts/gm. 

Which brings us back to that verb, the tank. 

I’d say it was around week 6 or 7 that the “Tank for Trevor” train started to gather momentum. The Jets social media pages are full of toxic, negative people who are just fed up, and perhaps rightfully so. But every week, as the men in green have delivered another L to the collection, more and more people have been swept up in the hysterics. 

The notion that a professional athlete would try to lose is nothing short of absurd. Tanking is a phrase concocted by the media to put extra pressure on struggling individuals. Does someone like Adam Gase deserve that pressure? In my opinion yes. Does a 23 year old quarterback, the 5th youngest starter in the league and younger than the perceived saviour of Cincinnati, deserve it? Unlikely. 

I, like many Jets fans, have become frustrated with Sam Darnold this season. It is compounded by the astronomical leap his classmate and division rival Josh Allen has made, and an improvement on some level of Baker Mayfield. Have I been critical of Darnold as this barren run has extended? Absolutely. But I think it’s plain to see that the coaching and the pieces he has around him are a bigger cause for concern. You only need to look at Ryan Tannehill to see what being freed from Gase can do for a QB 

Come “Black Monday”, no amount of late season wins will surely save Gase. But, given the unexpected win over, let’s remember, a division leading Rams on Sunday, Sam has likely saved his.  

Trevor Lawrence is quite clearly an exceptional football player. A “generational talent” according to many, but even that phrase sounds like another buzz word generated by someone in the media and widespread through socials. Would TL fix this team on his own? Doubtful. And who’s to say he’s not another Ryan Leaf, JaMarcus Russell or Josh Rosen? However unlikely, only time will tell.

Assuming the Jags complete their own “tank” by losing to playoff hopefuls Chicago and Indianapolis, who let’s not forget will also be out to avenge the week one loss that has turned out to be Jacksonville’s solitary victory, it will pose the Jets an interesting conundrum come April. 

Is it too simple to just get Justin Fields? Do we persevere with Sam and get him Penei Sewel to compliment Mekhi Becton? Is a trade back in order for a similarly desperate team, given we also have the Seahawks first round pick? 

The above are just a number of options Joe Douglas will be mulling over in the coming months.

For now, let’s firstly put some respect on a stellar performance from a group of players who despite 13 straight losses have battled to an impressive victory. 

And for my fellow Jets fans, lets revel in the glory, if thats the correct word, of not joining that infamous 0-16 club, let’s trust Douglas to get it right for the second draft running, and let’s remember that we have the 2nd highest cap space to make some much needed free agency investment. How does Allan Robinson with Denzel Mims sound? Let’s get behind Sam and hope he ends up on the Tannehill trajectory once the worst NFL head coach of all time is a distant, albeit painful memory. 

Was it worth it? Only time will tell. 

The tank is dead. Long live Sam.

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