New York Jets' Playoff Hopes Crushed After Brutal Loss to the Miami Dolphins

Josh BurtonContributor IIIJanuary 1, 2012

QB Mark Sanchez of the Jets being tackled by the Dolphins' Jason Taylor, who was playing in his final NFL game
QB Mark Sanchez of the Jets being tackled by the Dolphins' Jason Taylor, who was playing in his final NFL gameMarc Serota/Getty Images

Disgraceful. That word basically sums up how the Jets played today in Miami in a must-win game for their playoff hopes. Even if the Jets had played well against Miami and had won the game, they wouldn't have made the playoffs, as the Titans ended up beating the Texans, 23-22, on a botched snap on a two-point conversion attempt (Ouch!). 

The point isn't that a Jets win wouldn't have even helped the team's playoff chances, it's the fact that in a game of the highest importance, the Jets barely showed up. Its tough to blame the defense for the result of the game, as nine of the Dolphins' 19 points came directly after Jet turnovers committed by the offense—Mark Sanchez in fact.

However, it's fair to put all of the blame on the offense. Quarterback Mark Sanchez, like he has done most of this season, simply couldn't perform in the clutch by throwing three interceptions in the game, with none even going to Miami cornerbacks. 

Two of the interceptions were made by Randy Starks, a defensive lineman who had only made one interceptions before in his career and tripled that total today, and linebacker Marvin Mitchell, who made his first career interception today. In all honesty, Starks and Mitchell probably didn't deserve to make those game-changing interceptions, as Sanchez, presumably in a gift-giving move because of the New Year, gift-wrapped those passes for them.

It wasn't ALL Sanchez's fault, however, as the offensive line for the Jets, as it has been for years now, was absolutely dreadful in pass protection and didn't give Sanchez a ton of time in the pocket. The line also seemed to commit penalty after penalty, especially in the second quarter, highlighted by five false start penalties in the quarter. Yep, you heard me right.

The most telling sign from today's loss and the completion of a huge late-season meltdown for the Jets containing a season-ending three-game losing streak is that is it clear now that Mark Sanchez is not the franchise QB that GM Mike Tannenbaum was hoping to draft with the fifth-overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft. 

Of course, Tannenbaum will have a very tough offseason trying to make decisions about the future of offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer in addition to the many weak spots of this Jets team, which happens to be most positions. The QB situation is by far the most dire, but there is some light at the end of the tunnel, as there are some intriguing options at that position that the Jets could explore. 

My personal favorite is Green Bay Packers back-up QB Matt Flynn. After a dominating performance against the Detroit Lions earlier today in which he threw for six TDs and 480 yards, Flynn led the Packers to victory in a game that didn't matter to his team and by doing this, he has thrust himself into the spotlight of the whole NFL as the most desired back-up QB who many teams would want as a starter.

All in all, the loss against the Dolphins earlier today finalizes the horror and ineptitude that was the 2011-12 New York Jets season, but manages to put the team, players, front office, coaches and even fans out of the misery of coming up just short for a playoff berth that was so deceivingly close for most of the season.

Many questions will need to be asked and answered this offseason by the front office, especially Tannenbaum, if the Jets are going to be a playoff team next season. The most important of these questions is about the guy under the center, QB Mark Sanchez, and if the guys in the front office believe that he is the guy to lead this team to the Super Bowl victory that the organization and fanbase crave so desperately.