Jets enter bye at 0-9; what’s next?

The Jets lost yet another game tonight, and they enter the bye week at 0-9. What comes next for the NFL’s only winless team in 2020?

Many assume that the Jets will fire coach Adam Gase, midway through his second season on the job. But with a competitive effort against the Patriots as the closing argument before a 13-day break, a change at the top of the coaching staff hardly becomes automatic.

For starters, who would replace Gase? Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams? The controversial and outspoken figure, who somehow continues to find employment after the Saints bounty scandal despite among other things submitting an affidavit that dropped a dime on linebacker Jonathan Vilma for offering $10,000 to any teammate who took out Vikings quarterback in the 2009 NFC Championship game, has had responsibility for a defense that hasn’t done much to keep the Jets from losing game after game after game.

Meanwhile, General Manager Joe Douglas has vouched for Gase, and CEO Christopher Johnson has given Gase a clear vote of confidence. Gase quite possibly will get a chance to see this thing through, in an effort to win enough games to keep the Jets from having a clear path to quarterback Trevor Lawrence for the first overall pick in the 2021 draft.

Gase’s fate arguably would be sealed at that point, given that holding the rights to Lawrence could put the Jets in play for an “A” list coach. But would that coach want to keep Douglas, who seems to be entrenched in the job that he got after the Jets finally, and mercifully, sent Mike Maccagnan packing after the 2019 draft?

Unless the Jets plan to clean house, Douglas will remain. And Douglas seems to want Gase to stay put. Whether that strategy works if the team loses enough games to win dibs on Lawrence remains to be seen.

The final seven chances to get a win or two get no easier. After the bye, the Jets face the Chargers, Dolphins, Raiders, Seahawks, Rams, Browns, and Patriots. The Jets will be favored to win none of those games, and they quite possibly will join the 2008 Lions and 2017 Browns as the only NFL teams to go 0-16.

The wild card continues to be owner Woody Johnson. Now on the clock to lose his gig as the U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom given that the man who appointed Woody has lost re-election, Woody will be returning. However, he may not be back in time to clear out the coaching staff and to hire someone else during the 2021 cycle. Maybe, just maybe, the circumstances will give Gase another year, even if it means that Gase will become Lawrence’s first NFL coach.

For now, no one knows how it will play out. If Gase will be going during the bye week, the sooner he goes, the sooner the Jets can move on with someone else — and the sooner they can begin sending signals to a potentially reluctant Lawrence that they’ll be hiring a coach with whom he’s sufficiently comfortable to result in Lawrence choosing to enter the draft and to accept the possibility that the Jets will indeed select him.

There’s another wild card at play here, and his name is Peyton Manning. Manning and Gase worked well together in Denver. If Manning chooses to try through ever-present back channels to persuade Lawrence to give Gase a chance, maybe the Jets will decide to give it one more try with current management — and maybe it will finally begin to turn in the favor of a team that has hard a rough 51 years since winning its only Super Bowl.