If today’s game between the Jets and the Dolphins was a boxing match, it would have been an early round knockout. Sometimes a game just snowballs on you on a couple of big plays. A strip sack, a botched fake punt, and a long touchdown to Jaylen Waddle staked the Dolphins to an early 17-0 lead.
One of the nice things about boxing is the match ends after a early round knockout. In football you still have to watch the losing team get dragged around the field for another two hours.
Last week’s win over the Houston Texans was fun. After the game ended, I encouraged Jets fans to savor the moment. It was a fleeting moment of fun in an otherwise dismal season.
Of course the New York media seldom keeps things in perspective. Through the week we heard a lot of unrealistic chatter about how the Jets got themselves back into the Playoff race with that win. The actual standings suggested the Jets almost certainly would miss the postseason even if they won their final four games, but these things didn’t stop some pundits from going overboard. After the Dolphins blew a game Monday night and sustained an injury to Tyreek Hill, there was ample talk that the Dolphins would have a tough time beating the Jets from the press.
Of course there’s the any given Sunday factor. The best proof of this is the Jets offense scoring 30 points in a half against Houston just a week ago. In the month and a half leading up to that game, the Jets seemed intent on reaching new frontiers of offensive futility each week.
But one game also doesn’t tell us more about a team than the totality of the 12 that came before it.
The Dolphins are a very good team. The Jets are a very bad team. It shouldn’t be any surprise that Miami beat New York at home and quite easily.
The Jets are 5-9. They have the second worst point differential in their conference. They have trailed for more than 70 percent of game time this season. Three of their five victories came in games where their opponent had at least 80 percent odds of winning in the fourth quarter.
There are certain elements of this team like the defense which are excellent. There are certain players like Garrett Wilson and Breece Hall who are very talented on a weak offense.
At some point you have to acknowledge a team just isn't very good.
But while the Dolphins are more talented, it still shouldn’t be this bad.
The first two quarters of this game saw maybe the worst half of football I have ever seen an offensive line play. It’s a miracle Zach Wilson made it almost to the end of the first half based on how poor the blocking was.
It’s easy to blame injuries. The Jets have had more than their share up front this season. Still it’s tough to blame injuries completely when you consider the five starters in this game included two high Draft picks, a high priced free agent, and a free agent signed to be a core backup. This wasn’t a group of practice squaders pressed into action as we have seen other weeks this season. Instead there were a bunch of players who were frankly mistake additions by the front office.
As usual, the receivers did not help much. Outside of Garrett Wilson, the Jets are relying on receivers who are either too inexperienced or not talented enough (or both).
Also as usual, the coaching staff isn’t helping. I understand there are limits to what scheme can do, but it was striking to see Mike McDaniel scheme up so many easy, high percentage throws to his quarterback. Meanwhile with the Jets offense held in the single digits in yardage in the first half, the Jets didn’t scheme up a single target for Wilson, their top receivers.
Unfortunately the Jets are hard pressed to win when their defense plays well. This team cannot even stay within striking distance when it has an off day, which was the case in this one. It’s tough to blame the unit for the first 10 points which were gifted by a fumble and a failed fake punt. But a pair of touchdowns made the score 24-0 at halftime, and led many non-local CBS affiliates to switch to a new game.
Despite what many in the press tried to sell this week, Playoff hopes have been long gone for the Jets for some time. This loss coupled with the rest of the afternoon action across the league made it official. The Jets will be out of the postseason for a 13th consecutive year.
It’s easy enough to point to bad luck when we consider the reasons. Frankly, most teams would struggle to make the tournament in a season where their starting quarterback participates in four snaps.
Still, the Jets sold their fanbase on the notion that Aaron Rodgers was the final piece in a Super Bowl puzzle. Is really a Super Bowl caliber roster if you needed a future Hall of Fame quarterback just to be playing nominally meaningful football in Week 16? I would have to say it’s a sign the roster is not well constructed. There are likely limits to what even Rodgers could do with such limited circumstances on offense, especially on the line.
As the Jets prepare to play out the string once again, it should give them plenty to think about.