Quincy Williams insists the New York Jets still have something to play for.
Sure, they’ll enter the season finale at New England with double-digit losses for the fourth straight year and without a playoff appearance in 13 consecutive years. But ending that pesky 15-game skid against their AFC East rivals would certainly send them into the offseason on a positive note.
“The motivation and the vibes around the locker room is going 1-0 this week,” Williams said Monday. “This week, it’s special because it’s a big game, because we play the Patriots. I think the goal is breaking the losing streak, honestly.
“So with it being the last game, most people (usually) already have their minds set on like their vacation and stuff. It’s not that way in the locker room. So I’m actually excited about that.”
The most recent time the Jets (6-10) beat the Patriots (4-12) was in Week 16 of the 2015 season when New York won 26-20 on Ryan Fitzpatrick’s 6-yard touchdown pass to Eric Decker in overtime.
No players remain on the Jets from that roster, while only three Patriots players are still in New England: center David Andrews, special teams ace Matthew Slater and long snapper Joe Cardona.
“I mean, it’s not something that’s like verbally talked about,” Williams said. “But I can say it might be some side-type conversations, but it’s in the back of everyone heads, for sure, just because of the rivalry of the team, really.”
There might also be some extra juice Sunday with some speculating it could be Bill Belichick’s final game as coach of the Patriots — and the Jets perhaps seeing the last of him in the AFC East.
“I want to win,” defensive tackle Quinnen Williams said. “So, no matter if he’s in the division or not in the division, I just want to win. I want to win football games.”
That hasn’t been an easy task the past several seasons for the Jets, who are 19-47 in the past four seasons — including 17-33 during the past three under coach Robert Saleh. They followed up a 30-28 victory over Washington on Dec. 24 by getting embarrassed by Cleveland 37-20 four days later.
“We didn’t come away with the win that we wanted, but we just have to build off of the good things, eliminate the bad things and then just keep moving forward,” center Joe Tippmann said. “So, we just have our sights on what’s ahead of us.”
Despite the struggles, owner Woody Johnson has publicly backed both Saleh and general manager Joe Douglas and said they’ll be back next season.
So will quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who tore his left Achilles tendon four snaps into his debut with the team — the catalyst for many of the issues coordinator Nathaniel Hackett’s offense dealt with as it put up numbers that were the worst or close to the bottom in the NFL in several categories.
Rodgers has said he believes the team needs to “reload” rather than “rebuild” in the offseason. Many of his teammates agree, and that gives them optimism that next season could look a lot different — and more like the squad that had championship aspirations before Rodgers’ injury.
“We’ve been on a roller coaster this whole season, but there’s still like silver linings that we see through our practice and throughout the week and things like that,” Quincy Williams said. “And then there’s looking forward to next season and knowing that going into this offseason, we have a smaller list of things that we have to work on to be that Super Bowl-type team or be that playoff-type team.
“So I say this year was like a year of progress. It’s going in the right direction. And that’s also what I would say to anyone who asked me or any fans who are like, ‘What can you say about the season?’ Like, bro, just hold on, bro. We’re getting close, really.”
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