Even by the Jets’ standard of recently bad games, this one was especially bad.
Despite having an edge in possession, more first downs than their opponent and with Tennessee having committed 11 penalties, the Jets still managed to drop to 6-8 with a 14-10 loss to the Titans.
“You have to give Tennessee credit; they made the plays,” head coach Rex Ryan said. “As big as this game was, we knew it was a huge game for us, and to turn it over 5 times ... obviously extremely disappointing to say the least.”
Now officially -- and perhaps mercifully -- out of the hunt for the playoffs, the Jets are forced to play out the rest of the year and await an offseason overhaul.
What we learned ...
1. Horrible, awful Sanchez
The Jets passing offense struggled for a third straight week even as the ground game moved the ball relatively effectively. It was a another poor effort from quarterback Mark Sanchez, who looked awful time after time beginning with 3:57 left in the second quarter when he tried to force a pass to Jeremy Kerley that was intercepted by former Rutgers standout Jason McCourty.
Then again on the first drive of the second half, Sanchez badly overthrew Jeff Cumberland, again into the waiting arms of McCourty. While he did find Cumberland for a 17-yard touchdown in the third quarter and a brief 10-7 lead, Sanchez was intercepted for a third time in the fourth quarter when he heaved a pass to Braylon Edwards that was picked off by free safety Michael Griffin. Again with the Jets driving and inside two minutes left in the fourth quarter, Sanchez threw into triple coverage to be intercepted by Griffin again. On that final pass with the Jets driving and operating on a fresh set of downs, there was no reason to force the issue and it was a play that cost the Jets the game. Sanchez finished the game 13-for-28 for 131 yards with one touchdown and four interceptions.
“We keep turning the ball over and we’re aiding them,” Ryan said. “We get a drive going and we turn the ball over it seemed. It’s been killing us. We go in, we think we have an excellent plan and for whatever reason we’re struggling.”
2. CJ2K strikes
Outside of one big run with 8:53 left in the second quarter, Chris Johnson’s numbers weren’t huge, but that is the beauty of the man known as “CJ2K.” The Jets crowded the line with a six-man front and forced Johnson to bounce right between a tiny hole between Sione Pouha and Mike DeVito.
Johnson found space after breaking the line and scampered past the Jets’ linebackers and safety Yeremiah Bell for a 94-yard touchdown. He wasn’t even touched as the elusive Johnson exploited the Jets’ severe lack of speed at linebacker for the game’s biggest play. Johnson had 122 rushing yards in the game, but the Jets couldn’t corral him for one play and it cost them.
3. Playoff picture
With the loss, the Jets are officially out of the playoffs. They have shown amazing resiliency even at 6-8 in battling against injuries and doing their best to overcome the inept play of their quarterback. Ryan should be safe for one more year given the way he got his players to respond and play hard but changes must be made at the top if Jets ownership wants to taste success again. With two meaningless games left, it is time to see what quarterback Greg McElroy can do and let other young players, such as tight end Hayden Smith, linebacker Demario Davis, wide receiver Jordan White and safety Antonio Allen, get a look.
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.