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Column: Ugly performances by Jets, Bucs and Raiders

November 12, 2018
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Buffalo Bills tight end Jason Croom (80) recovers a fumble by wide receiver Zay Jones , left, for a touchdown against the New York Jets during the first quarter of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

To say the Jets , Raiders and Bucs have quit would be hyperbole.

To say their fans are ready to quit watching them would be more accurate.

There was little to nothing worth mentioning about their performances Sunday in one-sided defeats. In the New York and Tampa Bay areas, much of the chatter will be about removing Todd Bowles and Dirk Koetter as head coaches of their respective outfits. At least Jon Gruden won’t be worrying about job security with a Raiders team he has torn asunder, and he has the job security to rebuild.

Bowles got it right at the New Jersey Meadowlands by saying following a 41-10 embarrassment at the hands of the previously-inept-on-offense Buffalo: “We stunk it up as coaches, we stunk it up as players.”

His team certainly represented what used to be swamp land quite well Sunday.

The Jets (3-7, losers of four in a row) were blitzed from the beginning by a quarterback, Matt Barkley, who was unemployed a few days ago, and has been a journeyman for almost his entire NFL stint; this was his 12th game since 2013. They were overrun by LeSean McCoy, which is fine except when you consider he was in a horrendous slump and hadn’t scored all season.

Worst, they seemed apathetic and disinterested from the start, a strong indictment of the players and the coaches.

“They just came in and just straight, flat out, beat us,” said Jets receiver Jermaine Kearse, who has had to adjust to lots of losing in New York after lots of winning while he was with the Seahawks. “I wish I could give you an explanation. It’s frustrating for all of us, but they just came in here and straight beat us.”

Maybe because the Bills were trying a whole lot harder?

“Nobody’s quit on anybody,” Kearse added. “We win together, we lose together and that’s everybody’s mindset right now. We’re all not perfect, we’re out here trying to figure it out and find ways to improve this situation like anybody else. So, I would think that’s far from the truth.”

The Jets have never fired a coach during the season since the Johnson family bought the franchise in 2000. At least Bowles seems to have that going for him.

Koetter is in his third season in charge in Tampa, and he’s supposedly an offensive mastermind. Until being manhandled by Washington, the Bucs were tearing it up when they had the ball. Maybe somebody tore up all the play sheets that worked previously because they scored a mere three points against a team struggling with injuries.

Offensive coordinator Todd Monken had been calling plays, but Koetter took over against the Redskins. He wouldn’t explain why, but clearly it was a bogus decision.

“We weren’t good enough as a team, and that starts with me,” Koetter said. “To move the ball like that and come up with three points, you’re just not going to win that way.”

Tampa (3-6) has the second-longest playoff drought, 10 seasons, and Koetter’s chances of breaking that string are diminishing rapidly.

No such worries for Gruden, whose return to Oakland has been a fiasco so far. Give him credit for all the high draft picks the Raiders will have in April, and maybe for the high prospects they will carry into Las Vegas when they move in 2020.

For now, though, well — pardon us on this one — they’ve fallen into a Black Hole.

“This will be a year that a lot of us will never forget,” Gruden said of his 1-8 team that has been outscored 75-9 in the past nine quarters in what has quickly become a lost season. “It’s painful. It’s really hard. It’s painful. It’s going to be hard to sleep again, hard to get up in the morning.”

When Gruden gets up, he’ll perhaps look at others to get rid of as he retools the roster already missing Khalil Mack, Bruce Irvin and Amari Cooper. He’s got that wildly lucrative 10-year contract, virtual total control of personnel and no qualms about doing pretty much anything.

What must hurt fans of these three teams that got hammered Sunday is that the effort from other losing clubs — Arizona, which tested powerful Kansas City; Cleveland, which stunned Atlanta; and, of course, Buffalo — was so strong, so admirable. Perhaps the worst sign for a struggling team is when it looks lost, lethargic and lacking skill on the field.

In New Jersey and the Tampa and Oakland bay areas, that’s exactly what the fans saw in Week 10.

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