As New York Jets fans clamor to clinch positioning for 2021’s top overall pick, Greg Van Roten made it clear that the team wants to win.
— Michael Nania (@Michael_Nania) March 22, 2020
New York Jets fans often complain about “having” to watch their team play, but they can opt-out at any time. Greg Van Roten, however, has literally seen everything.
The offensive lineman, working his way through his first season as a Jet, has partaken in every single offensive snap the Jets have had over their first ten games. Van Roten has become a welcome staple of relative consistency on a unit that has seen a drastic amount of in-season turnover through injuries and transactions. He’s provided some of the few silver linings in New York football this season, such as the top guard ranking from Pro Football Focus during Week 5 action.
It hasn’t been enough, however, to keep the Jets away from pro football infamy. New York (0-10) is the only winless team left in the NFL and many believe they’re destined to join the 2008 Detroit Lions and the 2017 Cleveland Browns in the unholy brotherhood of carrying an 0-16 record. They’re also the only team mathematically eliminated from the NFL postseason after 11 weeks of play.
The light at the end of the tunnel in a winless scenario won’t be reached until spring, as imperfection would undoubtedly net the Jets the top overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. With five of the Jets’ final six opponents either holding or tied for a current playoff spot, many Jets fans are willing to bite the bullet and take the goose egg in the win column if it means hearing Roger Goodell inform the NFL world that the team will be on the clock first when the selection meetings commence.
Van Roten isn’t buying into that idea for a second.
“Why would you want to be in that group?” Van Roten asked rhetorically in his Wednesday post-practice availability, per Jack Bell of NewYorkJets.com. “The hunger is there, especially if you’re older. I don’t want to be a part of one season that is historically bad. We have six games left and we will try to win as many as we can.”
“It doesn’t matter to me,” he continued. “If we lose every game it’s possible that I’m not here next year. Nothing in this league is guaranteed. Not the next game, the next year, or the next play. In this league, you can’t concern yourself with the long term.”
The 30-year-old signed a three-year, $10.5 million contract after spending the prior three seasons with the Carolina Panthers, but the Jets can save over $3 million in cap space if they release him prior to June 1 after this season.
Van Roten isn’t the first Jet to speak out against Jets fans’ apparent wishes of 0-16. Veteran rusher and fellow first-year Jet Frank Gore issued similar sentiments after the Jets’ latest loss, a 34-28 defeat at the hands of the Los Angeles Chargers last weekend. The blocker referenced Gore’s statements and said that they are by no means the only ones in the locker room to believe it.
Furthermore, Van Roten doesn’t want the Jets to stop at one win. If and when that victory comes, he believes the Jets can conjure up more.
“When we win, it will be a relief for sure,” he said, per Bell. “You never expect to lose this many in a row in this league. When we finally win, we want to get another and another.”
The Jets’ quest for a win continues on Sunday, as the Jets battle the Miami Dolphins (1 p.m. ET, CBS).
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags