We know we're making a habit out of this, but even after the Jets' wet, ugly 10–6 loss to the Dolphins at home yesterday, we remain in the "do not jump off the bridge" camp. The Jets are still likely to make the playoffs, even if they lose their next two games (at Pittsburgh and at Chicago), barring an overwhelming show of force from Jacksonville. (See?) A win in either of those games gets this season back on track; they're not catching the suddenly out-of-control Patriots, but they could still be looking at a very winnable first-round playoff matchup against San Diego. Yesterday's loss didn't hurt as much in playoff scenarios as it might have seemed. There, see? Not a disaster! All that said: ooof.
Jets strength and conditioning coach Sal Alosi, whom we suspect isn't going to be Jets strength and conditioning coach Sal Alosi that much longer, had the signature moment of the day. His idiotic, mad trip of Dolphins special teams player Nolan Carroll was like the rest of the Jets' day: pointless, stupid, ineffective, horrible to watch, and seemingly unaware that one happened to be in front of millions of people on television. It's all people are talking about this morning, which is probably good, considering they're not talking about Mark Sanchez and the Jets' offense.
Just to distract for one more second, though, seriously, look at this:
Anyway, sigh, back to Sanchez. It was a sloppy day at the New Meadowlands, but still: Sanchez was a shocking 17-of-44 on the day — that is 27 incomplete passes, plus one interception — and the running game never got going much, either. (It's worth asking whether Shonn Greene is ever going to have his breakout game; on eight carries yesterday, he had seventeen yards, three less than Sanchez ran for.) His offensive teammates didn't give him much help — he was sacked six times, and this whole game is different if Santonio Holmes doesn't drop a gimme touchdown pass in the second quarter — but let there be no doubt: Sanchez was just dreadful yesterday. After the game, Rex Ryan even confessed he considered pulling him in the third quarter. These are not the moves of a team that is preparing for the playoffs. These are the moves of a team that is collapsing.
The Jets' last offensive touchdown was on Thanksgiving Day, which, not coincidentally, was their last win. This team was 9–2 then and is now staring down the barrel of 9–6. Many accused the Jets of getting fat off an easy schedule, which was true (their only win over a team that'll reach the playoffs so far is that Week 2 win over a very different Patriots team), but right now, the Jets' schedule and record is beside the point. They need Mark Sanchez to go back to being mediocre. That's how this team won nine games: Sanchez didn't hurt matters, the running game chewed up the field, and the clock and the defense took care of its business. The Jets cannot win with Sanchez being less than a mediocre quarterback. They still might make the playoffs. But until Sanchez fixes his problems, this team is going to continue looking like it's in free fall. The Steelers next week will do Sanchez and the Jets no favors. This might get uglier before it gets prettier.