Ever since the day after Super Bowl XXXVI, we have been wondering how and when the Jets can close the gap on the Bill Belichick-Tom Brady Patriots, much less overtake them.

Joe Namath carrying the Lombardi Trophy to the Patriots on stage Sunday night was just the latest painful reminder it has been 50 years since the Jets won their only Super Bowl.

Waiting for Brady to grow old has been an exercise in futility, and so is waiting for Belichick to lose his passion for football and take up plumbing.

Brian Flores is the next branch from the Belichick tree to branch out on his own, with the Dolphins, and history has shown us there is only one Belichick. The Jets were hoping Eric Mangini would be their Belichick, and while he lasted longer than one day as HC of the NYJ, he’ll be remembered mostly for blowing the whistle on Spygate.

Desperate times call for desperate measures when the likes of Belichick and Brady are still here.

OK, Mike Maccagnan — go get Le’Veon Bell.

The fastest way to making the Jets a threat to the Patriots is accelerating the growth of franchise quarterback Sam Darnold.

Step 1 was hiring Adam Gase as the quote-unquote quarterback whisperer.

Step 2 is getting him a playmaking difference-maker who knows his way to the end zone.

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The Steelers may decide to slap the transition tag on Bell, which would give them the right to match any offer sheet he signs with any other team.

In which case, general manager Maccagnan, who has $100 million or so in free-agent money to burn, should make Bell an offer the Steelers can refuse and he cannot.

Yes, it is a gamble. Will Bell’s head be screwed on straight in New York?

After 50 years wandering through the desert of despair, what do the Jets have to lose?

Step 3 would be using the third-overall pick of the draft on one of the impact defensive players available — a Josh Allen or a Quinnen Williams.

Why are the Patriots the Greatest Football Dynasty?

It starts with Belichick picking the right players. Team players. Selfless players. Smart and physically and mentally tough players. Players who love football. Versatile players. Players who hate losing more than they love winning. A Troy Brown. A Mike Vrabel. A Julian Edelman.

The right players are sometimes second-chance rejects who were given up on by a previous team. Adrian Claiborne, Cordarrelle Patterson and Philip Dorsey were all former first-round draft choices. Kyle Van Noy was a second-rounder.

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Their best player is the hardest worker. And Brady has been their hardest worker from Day 1.

Whether he has two weeks to prepare or one week, Belichick will know your team better than you will know his team. Ask Sean McVay.

Belichick knows how to identify talented assistant coaches. A Romeo Crennel leaves, an Eric Mangini replaces him. A Bill O’Brien leaves, a Josh McDaniels replaces him. A Matt Patricia leaves, a Flores replaces him. And so on and so forth.

Gase shouldn’t try to replicate The Patriot Way. There are no excuses. He inherits a Jets team that has targeted 2019 as the beginning of the takeoff. It’s up to Maccagnan to get him players. And when you’re trying to slay the dragon in your division, you won’t get anywhere with goody two shoes only.

You go for it.

First ring the Bell and give Darnold a fighting chance.

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