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Raiders meet Jets team that refused to tank on 2019 season

NEW YORK — Suck for … Chase Young?

It doesn’t have a smooth ring to it, no matter how talented the defensive end for Ohio State is, no matter how easily most believe he could translate into an NFL star.

The same goes for Louisiana State quarterback Joe Burrow and Alabama wide receiver Jerry Jeudy.

The same even went for Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa before his hip injury.

Tanking for high draft picks and a chance at landing a potential franchise-changing player might own its place in some professional sports leagues, but it’s a tough theory to accept in football.

Take, for example, the Jets.

They have won two straight and welcome the Raiders to MetLife Stadium on Sunday, a New York team that after eight weeks of the season appeared more than capable of wearing the crown as the league’s worst team.

But something happened between Haley Joel Osment playing quarterback and now hosting a Raiders team that has won three straight, the Jets showing signs that theirs is not a preference for rolling over.

“You know, I think really it just speaks to this locker room,” Jets first-year coach Adam Gase said. “These guys have done a great job of just staying in the moment, focusing on the next game after the last one was over. It hasn’t always been easy.

“Our core group of guys have been the (ones) to push us through some of these rough moments, but I mean that’s the NFL. That’s what it is. It’s a test for an entire season to try to figure out if you can handle the adversity and push through it or if you’re going to collapse.”

Most teams, whether talented enough or not to win games, keep pushing.

The NFL is far too difficult a world in which to exist to believe players would not play hard in hopes of losing and improving a team’s draft position.

Every snap is on film.

Every play is there to be evaluated by 31 other teams.

Talent gets a guy into the league, but a competitive hunger usually keeps him around.

Even the Colts of 2012 — you remember Suck for Luck, right? — won two of their final three games before outlasting all other flawed rosters for the right to draft Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck.

Coaches love their jobs and the money that come with them far too much to let up. General managers might suggest (demand?) younger players be inserted into lineups sooner than expected, but any serious hint of upper management scheming to lose would destroy a locker room.

It means the Jets at 3-7 can find themselves in the midst of a storm, which appears to have occurred following consecutive wins against the Giants and Redskins. Not great opponents, sure, but victories nonetheless.

Sam Darnold is no longer seeing ghosts while at quarterback, Jamal Adams is playing out of his mind at safety and Le’Veon Bell is improving with each game over which has been a frustrating season for the running back.

The Jets have scored 34 points in each of the past two weeks.

Collapsing doesn’t appear to have been a serious option.

Raiders small favorite

It means the Raiders as a 3-point favorite are in for as much or more than they expect, likely to face a Jets side more resembling one that beat the Cowboys last month than one that lost to Miami when the Dolphins were 0-7.

That the Raiders struggled to put away the winless Bengals at home last week wasn’t a surprise, Oakland having had 10 days to prepare and hearing from all angles about owning playoff capability while being a double-digit favorite against Cincinnati.

It happens all the time in the NFL.

It happens because inferior teams keep playing, no matter what circumstances might shake from within early on.

Like, yes, the Jets.

“I think that’s why your foundation of what you bring in is so important, because if you have guys who are going to accept the culture of losing, then the ball can get rolling in a negative direction,” Raiders wide receiver Zay Jones said. “But when you’ve got guys like Jamal Adams in your locker room, and other players like Le’Veon who want to win … They can get it turned around, and that’s what we’re seeing as of late.”

Tank that.

More Raiders: Follow at vegasnation.com and @VegasNation on Twitter.

Contact columnist Ed Graney at egraney@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4618. He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM, from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on Twitter.

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