Adam Gase: New York Jets trying to play young guys, not tank

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The New York Jets are trying to win. They really are, according to coach Adam Gase, who insisted the reason they're tearing down the roster isn't because they want the top pick in the 2021 draft.

"Nobody has talked about that," Gase said Wednesday. "We're just trying to play young guys. We're trying to get guys experience."

The Jets (0-9), the front-runners for the No. 1 overall pick, dumped another veteran on Tuesday, releasing cornerback Pierre Desir. In recent weeks, they've parted ways with a handful of veterans, including four starters -- running back Le'Veon Bell, linebacker Avery Williamson, nose tackle Steve McLendon and Desir.

The perception is they're tanking for Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, the presumptive top pick if he declares for the draft.

"We can't worry about what anybody else thinks," Gase said. "We're trying to get guys better that are here and we're trying to figure out ways to win games."

That hasn't been working too well. The Jets have a minus-147 point differential, worst in the league, and they have played only two one-score games. Their opponent Sunday, the Los Angeles Chargers (2-7), have had all their losses come by one score.

On Sunday, the Jets probably will start at least four rookies, with fifth-round pick Bryce Hall expected to replace Desir in the lineup. The current 53-man roster includes 20 rookies and second-year players.

Gase, who could be replaced at the end of the season, said the Jets hope to duplicate last season's turnaround. After a 1-7 start, they managed to finish 7-9, providing optimism for the offseason.

He called that "a good example of having success with some guys who a lot of people didn't think were very good. We were able to win some games because of it.

"We just have to find a way to get these guys better and find a way to win it at the end of the game. When we get in the fourth quarter and it's a close game, let's go win one of these things."

A victory, though, could prove costly in terms of draft position. The Jacksonville Jaguars (1-8) are only one game behind, and they would win a tiebreaker with the Jets based on strength of schedule.

Statistically, they have played a weaker schedule than the Jets.