Jets eliminated: ‘Feel like we blew the season’
10: 32 PM ET
Rich CiminiESPN Staff Writer
- Longtime Jets beat writer for New York Daily News
- Syracuse University graduate
SEATTLE — New York Jets quarterback Mike White sat motionless at his locker for several minutes, staring down at play sheets at his feet. He finally reached down and picked up the papers, which he then began to tear into small pieces, a metaphor for the Jets once-promising season.
Their 23-6 loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday at Lumen Field was the Jets’ fifth straight defeat, which eliminated them from playoff contention to culminate an epic collapse. It extended their postseason drought to 12 straight years, the longest active streak in the NFL and now the longest such slump in franchise history. It also secured their seventh consecutive losing season.
“It hurts,” White stated. “It’s tough. It’s gut-wrenching. It’s all of these things. It can be described with any adjective you like. “
The Jets were 7-4 after a 31-10 rout of the Chicago Bears on Nov. 27, seemingly headed toward a slump-busting playoff appearance. They are now in the midst the worst late-season nose dive in team’s history, due to a weak offense and quarterback instability. The last time they lost this many in a row after the 10th game was 1996, their infamous 1-15 season.
” No one is hurting more then the people in our locker room, especially me,” said coach Robert Saleh. “At the exact same time, I understand it’s difficult to see the light at the end, but there are many really cool things to be proud of for this season. It hurts a lot right now. “
Coming off a 4-13 record in Saleh’s first season, the Jets (7-9) weren’t expected to be strong playoff contenders in 2022, but they became one of the biggest surprises with their fast start. Expectations were raised, and everything collapsed.
“We feel s—ty as players,” tight end Tyler Conklin said. “No one is happy about this. I feel for the fans, and I feel for everyone. We wanted this too, but we didn’t play well enough, and it hurts. It’s awful. It’s clear that you won’t have the chance to change it until next season. This makes it even more frustrating. “
Saleh stated that he will “look through everything, from the top down to the bottom, starting with me obviously.” The offense will be the most scrutinized. It failed to score a touchdown for the second straight game; the Jets have averaged only 12 points per game during the five-game losing streak. White described the slump as “shocking” after eight quarters without scoring a touchdown. The Jets hoped White’s return would give them the energy they needed to win the last two games and possibly sneak into the playoffs. A pair of wins, coupled with one loss by the New England Patriots, would have resulted in a wild-card berth. White looked uncomfortable under pressure after missing two games due to fractured ribs.
White, in his fourth start since replacing the benched Zach Wilson, completed only 23 of 46 passes for 240 yards and two interceptions. He was sacked four times and went 3-for-15 with an interception under duress, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. He admitted that his ribs may have played a role in his performance.
” I was cleared by the doctors to play,” he stated. “The guys in that locker area deserve a certain standard. I knew what I was signing up to. After being cleared by the doctors, we practiced for a week. I’m basically saying that there’s a standard these guys deserve. I didn’t live up today to that standard. “
Different quarterback, same result.
In the past four games — two with Wilson, two with White — the Jets have produced 12, 17, three and six points. It shines a light on offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur, whose offense has topped 30 points only five times in 33 games. Conklin stated that they were “flat” at times on Sunday.
“We feel like we blew the season,” said rookie wide receiver Garrett Wilson, speaking of the team in general. “We wanted to be in the playoffs. I’m pretty certain that this [loss] means that we’re not going. We did what we wanted — and had a chance to prove that beyond that. We didn’t make it there so we don’t feel great about it. “
The Jets were out of the game from the start, falling behind 17-3, after the defense allowed three consecutive scoring drives. They never threatened again after that as LaFleur won the ground game and White continued to misfire. He was 17-for-40 when targeting receivers not named Conklin.
After a few fortuitous results last weekend, the Jets received an unexpected shot at the playoffs — “a blessing from the football gods,” cornerback D.J. Reed said. They squandered their second chance.
“We had high expectations all season and we didn’t meet them,” special teams captain Justin Hardee said. It’s always disappointing when you don’t take the next step and get to postseason. We’ll be left with a bad taste in the mouth for a long while. “
The author of 5 books, 3 of which are New York Times bestsellers. I’ve been published in more than 100 newspapers and magazines and am a frequent commentator on NPR.