Wake up the echoes: Jets still trying to defeat losing mentality

A look at what's happening around the New York Jets:

1. Can't take it anymore: Jamal Adams' "I'm-sick-of-losing" rant after last week's game triggered a memory from another dark period in Jets history.

In 1994, cornerback James Hasty was so beaten down by losing that he sat in front of his locker, crying. A young linebacker named Mo Lewis was taken aback by the scene, later admitting it left an indelible image in his mind. Little did he know that a couple of years later he'd do the same thing. Fast-forward to 2014: After a blowout defeat, defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson lost control of emotions, bemoaning another rotten season.

Round and round it goes, players from different generations fighting the same battle. Losing stinks, and it can play with the strongest of minds. No player on the Jets has a better winning pedigree than wide receiver Jermaine Kearse, who won a Super Bowl and two NFC championships with the Seattle Seahawks. Like Adams, he grew up with winning, and yet he admitted the 3-6 season has affected him.

"Coming from where I came from, I didn't lose," he told ESPN. "It's definitely something I'm battling and trying to fix, as we're all trying to fix. Nobody wants to lose. ... This season has been tough. Losing is always tough and it magnifies everything."

The Jets will miss the playoffs for the eighth consecutive season. Think about that for a second: If the average NFL career is less than four years, the Jets have been also-rans for two generations. Injured running back Bilal Powell, their longest-tenured player, was drafted in 2011, meaning he has gone through an entire career without a playoff appearance.

The Jets last made the postseason in 2010, their second straight trip to the AFC Championship Game under Rex Ryan. Since then, their record is 49-72. Only two teams are worse -- the Jacksonville Jaguars (35-85) and Cleveland Browns (26-94), both of whom beat the Jets this season.

The eight-year drought is the second longest in franchise history. The Jets missed the playoffs from 1970 to 1980, but at least they were fresh off a Super Bowl championship (1968). The current regime is building toward something, and there's hope with Sam Darnold at quarterback, but it's moving at a glacial pace for many long-suffering fans.

Adams and Kearse have the right mindset to conquer the demons, but no one is immune to the madness of losing.

2. Don't curse at Kearse: Let's explore the Kearse situation with more depth. He's an intelligent player with the clutch gene in his DNA (see: his Super Bowl games), which made his performance last week so out of character. He dropped a pass, but his most egregious mistake was stepping out of bounds before catching a short pass. Afterward, he acknowledged his mental mistake with reporters, then did some soul-searching on the flight home.

"People are probably trashing me, which is cool. I get it," he said. "I took some time to look at myself, reset and get my mind right. I had a long, one-on-one talk with myself. I don't think I've been playing bad, my worst football, but I also feel like I can play a lot better."

Kearse got wind of criticism from fans who ripped him for a lack of focus on his out-of-bounds faux pas, but he insisted, "The perception that I don't care is totally false."

He was a terrific pickup last season, but his production has waned in his second season with the Jets -- only 22 catches and no touchdowns. Nobody is having a great year on offense, so he has plenty of company. Still, this is hard for Kearse, who has high standards. He vowed to get it fixed, pronto.

"I'm human. I battle the mental game too," he said. "For me, it's getting out there, having fun and enjoying it. I feel like I got myself into a good place. Do I think my best football is coming? Most definitely. Most definitely."

3. Miracle cure? The Jets will face recently released wide receiver Terrelle Pryor on Sunday. Not only is Pryor playing a lot for the Buffalo Bills (65 snaps last week), but he's not even listed on their injury report -- a mere three weeks after the Jets cut him with a partially torn groin.

Those trainers in Buffalo must have some serious healing methods (he says sarcastically).

4. High on Sam: Quarterback Josh McCown, starting for the injured Darnold, will play his first regular-season game in 337 days. His last appearance was Dec. 10 at the Denver Broncos, where his season ended with a broken hand. For the first nine weeks of 2018, he was the highest-paid quarterback coach in the league, a $10 million mentor for Darnold. The Jets believe McCown, 39, is worth his weight in old -- as in, old sage. Darnold is lucky to have such a selfless mentor.

McCown went from team MVP to benchwarmer but never complained. Though he never acknowledged it publicly, he told ESPN the "understood expectation" after Darnold was drafted was that McCown would be the backup, unless for some reason the rookie showed he wasn't ready. McCown knew his fate in the third preseason game, when Darnold recognized a blitz, changed the play and connected with his "hot" receiver -- a next-level play for a young quarterback.

McCown said he's cool with how everything has played out.

"More than anything, I want to see this position solidified for this team for a long time," he said. "We're on our way to doing that."

5. Surfing the Webb: With Darnold injured, Davis Webb moves up to No. 2 after spending the first nine weeks on the practice squad. What do we know about Webb other than he caddied for Eli Manning in 2017?

General manager Mike Maccagnan said he liked Webb in college. In fact, he went to scout Webb at the Cal-USC game in 2016, which, by pure coincidence, was when he caught his first glimpse of Darnold. Maccagnan said Webb has outstanding character and intangibles, adding that he has "the potential to develop." The Jets have yet to see him in a game, so it's hard to get an accurate read. Practices are closed to the media, but players have told me they're impressed with his arm strength.

"In reality, we probably won't know until the preseason," Maccagnan said.

He hopes that's the case. They don't want to play him before then, because that would mean trouble.

They might wind up carrying him on the 53-man roster for the remainder of the year. If they try to put him back on the practice squad when Darnold is healthy, it would mean exposing him to waivers -- and that could be risky.

6. Did you know? I came across this while bouncing around the ESPN database. Not only are the Jets having a hard time winning games, but they're also struggling in the coin toss department. Under Todd Bowles, the Jets have won only 23 of 57 coin tosses -- 40 percent. The only team with fewer "wins" is the Cincinnati Bengals (22). That's weird, right? After all, you have a 50-percent chance of winning a coin toss.

Apologize for the minutia. Carry on.

7. High praise for Eli: Running back Elijah McGuire hasn't made many splashy plays in one-plus season, but he has been on the receiving end of lofty compliments. In the offseason, running backs coach Stump Mitchell compared him to Pro Football Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson. On Thursday, offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates said McGuire reminds him of former New England Patriots standout Kevin Faulk.

Bates used the checkers-versus-chess analogy, saying McGuire is so advanced from a cerebral standpoint that he's on the chess level.

"He can play football mentally, in his head," Bates said. "It makes it easy for him."