By Ernie Palladino
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They made it official Sunday.
Halfway through the schedule, the Jets are broken. The season has spiraled out of control, and the chances of stopping it may be about as slim as Sandy veering east instead of west.
They lost to the Dolphins 30-9 in a game that wasn't nearly that close. At home, against a beatable division opponent, in a game they needed to win just to feel good about themselves, not to mention position themselves for a second-half playoff push, Rex Ryan's team came up pathetically small.
No. Small is too kind a word. Microscopic. Yeah, that's it. Microscopic.
Worse yet, they now have a bye week to think about their puniness. Were Ryan a smart head coach -- and right now there is no evidence of any intelligent life in either the boss' office or that of his offensive coordinator's -- he'd not only burn his copy of this game, but petition NFL Films to erase all evidence of its existence.
Ryan and coordinator Tony Sparano have messed so profoundly with Mark Sanchez's brain that he's now a mistake-prone quarterback playing without a shred of confidence. The whole Tim Tebow mess hasn't worked. Nobody fears him stepping onto the field, either as a pseudo-running back or that useless decoy receiver role. He serves no positive purpose in Sparano's offensive quagmire.
The plague there has spread to other areas, such as team discipline. Forget the frustration-fueled altercations as the final minutes ticked away. How about that lack of urgency in the offense's pace from the end of the third quarter on; short runs followed by leisurely walks back to the huddle, Clyde Gates catching a 20-yard pass near the goal line and then preening before strolling back as fourth-quarter seconds ticked away.
As if he had actually done something of note.
The way the Jets stand now, at 3-5 overall and 2-2 in the division, they are an unmitigated disaster. And it's all Ryan's fault. His hubris, his incessant bragging about a squad that was only borderline good when Darrelle Revis and Santonio Holmes were healthy, contributed greatly to this epic catastrophe.
He has two weeks to fix it all. He has much to decide, not only about who his quarterback should be -- for the record, Sanchez is still the pick here -- but a number of other odious issues.
He must figure out an offensive line that neither run blocks nor pass protects. He must reorganize a defense that can't keep opponents out of the end zone or prevent big plays, especially where Kyle Wilson continues to prove he's no Revis.
Special teams is a huge problem, too. A successful Dolphins on-side kick -- on what would have been the Jets' first possession, by the way -- was followed by a blocked punt for a touchdown, a blocked field goal, and a 57-yard answer on the kickoff after Nick Folk's third-quarter field goal. By the time the Dolphins' hands team played the Jets' onside attempt to perfection, the game was all but done.
Assuming it is going to take nine wins to nail down an AFC wild card spot, does anyone really think after this one that the Jets are capable of going 6-2 after the bye? If the answer is yes, well, perhaps that person should trade in their rose-colored glasses for a set of clear ones and realize that this team is disintegrating before their eyes.
While owner Woody Johnson sits in his box and waits for his pet offseason acquisition to make some meaningful contribution, the rest of his plaything suffers with indecision and inefficiency. The fans who paid for their PSLs suffer with substandard football.
There is little hope of improvement. With Seattle, St. Louis, New England and Arizona due up in the stretch after the bye, it is possible that only one win, the Rams, exists before April's draft position becomes a bigger question than a playoff spot the last four games.
Who knows what kind of football Jets fans can expect to see after that. Or even now, since the loser of four of the last five have revealed themselves a team beset by talent deficiencies and disorganization.
Perhaps in the oddest way, they brought some clarity to the situation. It is becoming clear that changes need to be made, and not the Tebow-for-Sanchez kind. Sparano, Mike Tannenbaum, maybe even Ryan, need to go.
That debacle Sunday brought it all crashing down. If Ryan can't fix it, it may be time to start all over again.
What needs to change in Gang Green land? Be heard in the comments below...
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