How Jets’ strong finish could impact intriguing future

The usual foul smells of a postgame locker room had company Sunday after the Jets’ 16-10 win over the Steelers — optimism filled the room.

The Jets have used a second-half surge to end the season with some hope for 2020. The Jets have gone 5-2 in the second half of the season and they could potentially finish 7-9 with a win at the Bills on Sunday.

Should anyone throw a parade for 7-9? Of course not. But this team looked dead at 1-7 and responded with better play in the second half of the season.

The question is: Does a strong finish mean anything going into next year? That is debatable. The 2013 Jets won three of their final four games, brought Rex Ryan back and talked about being an “ascending” team. They went 4-12 in 2014 and Ryan and GM John Idzik were fired.

The truth is December wins probably won’t translate into anything next September, but they help in this offseason and they help coach Adam Gase, who is trying to establish a culture. Wins equal credibility for a coach in his first season.

“I think just any time you win, it’s exactly what you want,” Gase said. “You want to keep building on the last time we won and then kind of had a little bit of a setback, but just trying to put multiple good games together and finding ways to win, whether it’s October, November, December. It’s just trying to find ways to win.”

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The Jets are entering an offseason of change with new GM Joe Douglas getting his first crack at revamping the roster. The team will look vastly different by May when the players come together for OTAs, so Sunday’s result might not mean much to a good number of players on the team. Still, ending the season on a winning note beats the alternative.

“I think there is [carryover] for sure,” defensive end Henry Anderson said. “You always want to finish on a high note and with a little bit of momentum. It’s always better doing that than finishing on a bad note. You don’t want to ever end on a big losing streak. That leaves a bad taste in your mouth all offseason.”

A reason to believe this Jets team can build off these late wins is it is a young team with a core that should return as long as Robby Anderson is re-signed and Jamal Adams is not traded. Gase and his staff will be entering their second season, so the team should theoretically make a jump next season with more familiarity with the offensive and defensive systems.

Winning three of the last four would end a bad season on a good note and complete a nice turnaround. The Jets had a brutal stretch of losses in late October/early November. First, they were embarrassed on “Monday Night Football” by the Patriots, 33-0, in the “ghosts” game. The Jaguars beat them up the following week in Jacksonville and then they lost to the previously winless Dolphins in Miami.

It looked like the locker room could splinter, finger-pointing could begin and Gase could lose control. Instead, Gase stabilized things and the Jets rattled off three wins in a row.

“I think there are a lot of other teams that being 1-7 would have given up and wrote the season off,” linebacker Brandon Copeland said.

Quarterback Sam Darnold said the players never quit on the season.

“I think every single day, we’re continuing to come in here with a worker’s mentality and with that mentality just putting our head down coming back to work every single day no matter what the result is,” Darnold said. “Even [Monday] I saw mostly everyone in here doing some form of treatment or watching tape [on the players’ day off]. We are just continuing to move forward. Like I keep saying, we have great guys in the locker room, and we are moving in the right direction.”

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