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NEW YORK (AP) — In the locker room, the win meant a whole lot to Rex Ryan and his players. On social media, it felt more like a loss to some New York Jets fans.
Welcome to the bizarre paradox that has become the Jets' 3-11 season.
"We're going to go out every Sunday and try to get a 'W' no matter what's going on," right tackle Breno Giacomini said Monday, "no matter what our record is."
But this is the type of year this has been for the Jets: They beat the Tennessee Titans 16-11 for their first road win on Sunday — and some fans were upset. Twitter was filled with fans disappointed that the Titans — yes, the Jets' opponent — couldn't pull off a late comeback win.
That's because they viewed New York's win as costly, with their team falling to sixth in the NFL draft order and maybe out of reach for top quarterback prospects Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston, both Heisman Trophy winners.
"Obviously, you play the game to win, but they're fans, you know?" Giacomini said. "They're looking down into the future, and they're entitled to their opinion. If they're that interested in the team, that's a good thing. They're loyal fans, which is a good thing out of this."
According to the sports analytics site numberfire.com, the Jets' chances of getting the No. 1 overall pick dropped from 11.82 percent last week to 0.02 percent. A pack of 2-12 teams — Oakland, Tampa Bay, Jacksonville and Tennessee — and 3-11 Washington are all projected, based on projections by the site, to finish ahead of the Jets.
That means the win at Tennessee might have knocked New York clear out of the running to kick off the draft in April. Even Donald Trump weighed in on Twitter, agreeing with the fans who wanted to see the Titans pull off a lateral-filled winning touchdown on the last play Sunday.
"The Jets should have let them score to get the number one draft pick, who will be really good," Trump tweeted. "It will just never change for them!"
Other fans, though, were just happy to watch the Jets win — especially during a season in which there have been so few.
"I'm not caught up into the hype as far as the media coverage with what people are saying," linebacker Quinton Coples said. "Our job is to compete and play hard, not only for ourselves, but for the organization, period. Everything else will handle itself."
The Jets posted a video of Ryan's celebratory locker room speech posted on the team's website after the game. With owner Woody Johnson — the man who controls Ryan's future — watching and listening intently, left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson awarded the game ball to Ryan.
"We've been all battling and we've been all struggling," Ferguson said. "But we really appreciate everything you've done, Coach."
Ryan later handed the game ball off to his father Buddy, who was at the game despite battling several illnesses in recent years, including bouts of cancer, some strokes and encephalitis.
With the younger Ryan's future uncertain, it was perhaps one last chance for the 83-year-old Buddy Ryan to see his son coach the Jets.
"It was a little extra motivation with my Dad being in the stadium able to watch the game," Rex Ryan said. "He hasn't been able to do that this year, so that felt really good and felt better to give him the ball."
The Jets and Ryan have possibly just two more games left together — against AFC East division rivals New England and Miami. That's all the coach is focused on, not whether he and maybe even general manager John Idzik are in their last days with the organization.
"It's not hard for me to do," Ryan said. "I'm a confident person, and I think I'm a decent football coach and I think people who know the game realize that. So, I don't worry about it."
Several players are trying not to think that far ahead, either, but they continue to express their respect for Ryan.
"I don't want him to go anywhere," Giacomini said. "We all know this is a business, so I'm going to do what I can do and that is to go out there and fight for my head coach on the field."
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