Thu. Oct 22nd, 2020

Impact of Jets’ players-only meeting is still…

4 min read
Impact of Jets’ players-only meeting is still...

Exactly a week ago, the Monday after the Jets had been publicly flogged by the Eagles in Philadelphia to fall to 0-4, their season was in peril.

Sensing the urgency of a season slipping away, a players-only meeting was called by a couple of the Jets’ veteran leaders and the team convened at the team facility.

A number of veteran players stood before their teammates and delivered messages, and the theme was essentially the same: Don’t fracture, stay together.

Jets coach Adam Gase said he was “good with’’ the players-only meeting “just because of who it is.’’

“When Steve McLendon and Jamal [Adams] and the guys that we have say that they want to have that, that’s hard to argue with,’’ Gase said. “Those guys do it right. Those are good dudes that want to find a way to win.’’

So they did. The Jets found a way to win Sunday, upsetting the heavily favored Cowboys 24-22 at MetLife Stadium in a game in which they dictated, they were the aggressors and they had their collective thumb in the back of the Cowboys’ necks.

How much that meeting had to do with what occurred against the Cowboys isn’t possible to measure. At least, not until their next game, a rematch at home Monday night with the Patriots, who dominated them two games ago in Foxborough.

Steve McLendon and Jamal Adam bring down Ezekiel Elliott. The duo were two of the Jets veterans who called a key players’-only meeting.Getty Images

The Jets were still without franchise quarterback Sam Darnold for that game at New England.

Darnold returned Sunday and proved himself to be as much of a difference-maker as there is in the league — at least for one Sunday.

The players’ meeting?

“Guys felt the message, guys felt that meeting,’’ McLendon, the defensive lineman, told The Post. “As you can tell, we came out [Sunday] and did our thing.’’

One of the voices that resonated most was that of veteran center Ryan Kalil, who was signed out of retirement during training camp and has struggled to return to the form that made him one of the best in the league.

“One of the advantages you have playing a long time is you get to see all the different kinds of seasons and all different kinds of games, so you have experience to draw from,’’ Kalil told The Post. “My message was that I’ve probably been in every kind of situation you can think of, and the thing that I’ve learned over 13 years is not to ride the roller coaster.

“It’s not where you start in this league — in any aspect,’’ he continued. “It’s not where you start when you get drafted. It’s not where you start with your record. Everything is about how you finish. There’s still a lot of football left in the season. It’s nice to get that first win, but there’s still a lot more work to clean up offensively.’’

The last sentence was a kicker message that backed up his big-picture theme: Don’t get full of yourselves after one win. The team is still 1-4 and in a massive hole and the defending Super Bowl champions are next on the schedule.

Jets left tackle Kelvin Beachum, who’s in his eighth NFL season, took the things Kalil said to heart, and he, too, had some words for his teammates.

“He talked about staying steady,’’ Beachum told The Post. “Being in this market is going to be over-sensationalized and overly dramatic. His big thing was to stay steady, be a pro, be the same guy every single day.’’

Beachum’s message to his teammates?

“That I’ve been in this position before, and that we’ll find a way to fight ourselves out of this situation,’’ he said. “A lot of guys talked and the message was the same. We’ve got to stay together, and stay the course.’’

Make no mistake: That Monday meeting was not a bitch session, during which players complained about their roles, the coaches or pointed fingers.

It was, in fact, the opposite of that. By all accounts, this is a very close-knit team. Some players, including Darnold, are on record saying this is the closest team on which they’ve ever played.

“We have guys that love each other and care for each other and find a way to support each other; we’re like a family supporting each other through thick and thin,’’ Beachum said.

“It meant a lot to show how much these guys care about the game,’’ McLendon said. “I told the guys, ‘Stay singularly focused on the task and things will change.’ You just know the table is going to turn. It’s like the storm may come for a while, but at some point it has to clear up.’’

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