There are a lot of reasons why this season has gone off the rails for the Jets, and a lot of excuses that Adam Gase could easily use to explain it.
But really, there's no excuse for this.
The Jets just lost a game, by a significant amount, to the worst team in the NFL -- or what was the worst team in the NFL -- and a team that many people around the league seriously believe are trying to lose so they can the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. The Jets' 26-18 loss in Miami has to rank right up there as one of the worst losses in franchise history.
And it's going to test whatever patience Jets CEO Christopher Johnson has left, and test all his faith in GM Joe Douglas and especially Gase. There has been no indication at all that Gase is on the hot seat. In fact, since Johnson fired the man who hired Gase (GM Mike Maccagnan) and then let Gase have a strong hand in hiring his successor. Gase has a lot of power and, presumably, a lot of job security, too.
But this loss to the "Tanking for Tua" Dolphins puts the Jets in uncharted territory. They are coming off a tumultuous few weeks in which they had the Kelechi Osemele mess, an eventful trading deadline day that mostly amounted to nothing except for hurting Jamal Adams' feelings, and then Adams threw a fit and refused to speak to Douglas and Gase about it. And now they are 1-7, suddenly in the race for the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft in April.
Who knows what happens next, but right now nobody in the organization should feel very comfortable or secure. After a loss like this, all bets about everything have to be off.
So while everyone waits to see if there's another shoe to drop, here are some takeaways from one of the Jets' worst losses ever …
- As if there weren't enough signs that the wheels are coming off, this was a big one: With the Jets down 24-15 and backed up against their own end zone in the fourth quarter, C Jonotthan Harrison snaps the ball right past Darnold, and out the back of the end zone for a safety. But afterwards, G Brian Winters was caught screaming at Darnold, and Harrison had to step in. The Darnold-Winters "conversation" continued on the sidelines. You don't often see offensive linemen yelling at their quarterback. Really, you don't ever see it.
- Sam Darnold (27-of-39, 260 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) is doing things that he didn't do at the end of last year -- including throwing terrible passes when he's about to be sacked, including one that led to a disastrous interception at the end of the first half. It came after a big kickoff return by Vyncent Smith and right after a touchdown pass to TE Ryan Griffin was overturned on replay (More on that in a moment). Down two touchdowns, Gase called a rollout to the left -- which is pretty odd to begin with considering Darnold is a right hander and then had to throw across his body. Before it got to that, Darnold got caught and was in the grasp of a defender, yet he still flicked the ball towards the goal line where there's a well-covered Jamison Crowder. Not surprisingly, his terrible pass is picked off by Jomal Wiltz. It was just an awful decision by Darnold off a terrible play call by Gase.
- As for the play that led them to that, Darnold hit TE Ryan Griffin in stride heading toward the back of the end zone, and Griffin made a terrific catch. And yes, it was a catch. Griffin grabbed it, got both feet in, and then lost control of the ball when he hit the ground. Somehow the replay official determined he didn't have control, cut after watching the replay a dozen times, I don't see how.
- If you're going to compare yourself to Tom Brady and Aaron Donald you better at least show up to play. Safety Jamal Adams had no impact on this game, missed a couple of open-field tackles, and generally played small. It wouldn't be worth noting, since many of the Jets played small, but he's the one that got so upset when the Jets listened to trade offers for him and said he should be untouchable like Brady and Donald. On Sunday, he looked more like a player the Jets should be eager to trade away.
- The game was probably over, but the Jets got the ball back with 2:50 to play, down by 11 points and needing two scores. They had three timeouts to use, plus the two minute warning. With the Dolphins in a prevent, the Jets march 81 yards in 14 plays for a field goal … but don't use any of their timeouts, so they chew up 2:35 off the clock. That left them to onside kick with just 14 seconds left, which wouldn't have been much time even if they recovered it. That's terrible clock management. Gase has to use his timeouts there.
- This is the thing that is so maddening about the Jets. Their opening drive was just beautiful. They go 75 yards in 11 plays. They convert on a fourth down. Sam Darnold goes 6 of 8 for 68 yards. He finishes it with a 12-yard TD pass to Jamison Crowder, who has four catches for 50 yards on the drive. And then the offense just disappears. Unreal.
- Crowder basically disappeared after that drive. He finished with eight catches for 83 yards.
- After seeing his usage diminish, RB Le'Veon Bell spoke to Gase about how he can be more involved in the offense. Mission accomplished. In the first half, 12 of the Jets' 35 plays went to or towards Bell. Overall, Bell ran 17 times for 66 yards and caught eight passes for 55 yards. He had the ball or was thrown the ball 26 times out of 63 plays overall. He still isn't getting much blocking from the awful offensive line, but at least now he's being used more.
- The Jets had 10 penalties for 105 yards. Four of them were on the offensive line -- two on LT Chuma Edoga and two on LG Alex Lewis.
- Linebackers are a huge, huge problem for the Jets and it's totally because of all they're injuries. The Dolphins went right after them, with runs up the middle and throws to the middle of the field. Better offensive teams are going to just kill the Jets doing that, and there'll be nothing they can do about it. That said, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams has to get James Burgess some help and he can't keep leaving him on a tight end one-on-one. Dolphins TE Mike Gesicki destroyed him (6 catches, 95 yards).
- Adam Gase was probably right about the offensive pass interference penalty on Robby Anderson that he challenged in the second quarter. Anderson was blocking and was barely off the line of scrimmage, so it was all legal. But I'm not sure why he's wasting a challenge on a 5-yard pass on 2nd and 13 in the second quarter -- especially knowing refs are just not overturning these calls. This one wasn't and he wasted a timeout for nothing.