The Jets are not mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, but they are nowhere near postseason caliber if they somehow could make it.
Sunday’s 23-3 loss to the Dolphins underscored that a team which was 5-4 just weeks ago is still in rebuilding mode, not postseason contention.
At no point during the game did the Jets, in particular on offense, look like a playoff team. The offense struggled to move the ball and quarterback Geno Smith was benched at halftime, with a depressing stat line of 4-of-10 for 29 yards and one interception. It was arguably the worst performance of Smith’s rookie year. He looked completely and utterly overwhelmed and was booed by fans after the team’s opening possession resulted in a three-and-out.
The Dolphins came into the game losers of two of their last three games but they rebounded with a stingy defense that limited the Jets to just three trips into Dolphins territory.
Perhaps the only bright spot for the Jets on offense was Chris Ivory, who finished with 61 rushing yards on 12 carries including a 32-yard gain midway through the third quarter when he appeared to be stopped at the line but bounced to his left where he found space.
The Jets dropped to 5-7 and are now mired in a three-game losing streak.
What went wrong …
1. Secondary is primary issue
The Dolphins were never going to beat the Jets solely on the ground — not against the league’s top run defense. But the way they carved up the New York secondary was beyond impressive. Ryan Tannehill found Brian Hartline nine times for 127 yards and a touchdown. In addition, fellow wide receiver Mike Wallace had seven receptions for 82 yards and a touchdown and tight end Charles Clay had seven catches for 80 yards. Efficient, short routes from the Dolphins wide receivers effectively moved the ball down the field. Antonio Cromartie, hampered by a hip injury for much of this season, was burned on the inside by Hartline for a 31-yard touchdown pass with 9:42 left in the third quarter to give the Dolphins a 13-0 lead. The secondary struggled physically at the line as they consistently played off receivers, giving them room to get inside. Then there was Dee Milliner, who failed to wrap up Wallace on a 28-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter. It was lazy, sloppy technique from Milliner who continues to piece together a truly terrible rookie year.
2. Jets engines start cold
Starting strong has been a struggle for this team all season with Sunday’s game representing the fourth time this season the Jets have been shut out in the first quarter. In their last five games, including the Dolphins game, the Jets have scored a combined six points in the opening quarter. The 6-0 halftime lead for Miami represented the second time this season the offense has been shut out. On 17 plays in the first half, the Jets managed just 39 yards. It wasn’t much of a halftime hole but given the anemic display by the offense it was enough to doom the Jets to a long afternoon.
3. Disastrous end to first half
After a goal-line stand gave the Jets the ball on their own 1-yard line, the offense went three-and-out including a third-down play in which Smith badly overthrew tight end Kellen Winslow. Forced to punt, the Dolphins ran a series of quick plays to work themselves into field goal range and Caleb Sturgis hit a 34-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead. The Jets got the ball on their own 20-yard line but on third down Smith threw an interception into double coverage to give the Dolphins the ball at the Jets’ 44-yard line. Miami positioned themselves three plays later for another Sturgis field goal and a 6-0 lead heading into halftime.
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.