EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Jets arrived at MetLife Stadium with the intention of inching closer to that final AFC wild-card spot.
But instead, they left their home turf embarrassed, outplayed and unsure of who will even be their starting quarterback next week.
The seven-week regression of Geno Smith reached a tipping point Sunday against the Miami Dolphins, culminating in an 8.3 first-half passer rating and his third benching of the season. But his replacement, Matt Simms, failed to deliver the "spark" Rex Ryan so desperately needed.
The Jets' 23-3 loss dropped them to 5-7 and distanced them further on the playoff periphery. They entered the game as one of six teams -- including the Dolphins (6-6) -- vying for the final AFC wild-card spot. But after a week of chatter about a much-needed sense of urgency down the stretch, the Jets looked absolutely awful.
"We did nothing well today," said a frustrated Ryan, whose team hasn't won since Nov. 3 against the Saints. "I feel bad for our fans, especially the ones that were here in the stadium. They deserved better than that. It was an awful performance by us.
"We better get better in a hurry."
The problem is, he and his players have been saying that for weeks. And now, no one on the team -- not even Smith or Simms -- knows who will start next week.
"I can't answer that question right now," Ryan said. "I need to see it, get everybody's opinion and do what's in the best interest of our football team."
This is how bad things have gotten for the Jets: After trailing 6-0 at halftime, Ryan and offensive co-ordinator Marty Mornhinweg turned to Simms in the locker-room.
"Rex came up to me and said, 'Are you ready to go? Do you know the game plan?' " Simms recounted. "I said, 'Yes, sir. I'm ready to go.' "
But the quarterback switch -- which coincidentally came almost a year to the day Ryan benched Mark Sanchez in favor of Greg McElroy in a 7-6 victory over the Cardinals on Dec. 2, 2012 -- did little to change the outcome.
Now the Jets are left to figure out whether Smith, Simms or the always-inactive veteran David Garrard will start against Oakland. But it came as no surprise that although Smith (4-for-29, 29 yards and an interception) admitted the past three weeks have "been tough," he still believes he's the man for the job.
"I have complete confidence in myself," said the rookie, who hasn't thrown a TD pass since Oct. 20 and accounts for 23 turnovers. "I think I am the best option for this team."
Several players refused to talk in the locker-room post-game, and those who did expressed irritation and genuine surprise at their lack of execution in recent weeks.
"They do frustrate everybody," outside linebacker Calvin Pace said of their three straight losses. "It's sickening, man. But we've got another week, so we'll see."
Tight end Kellen Winslow cited bad practice habits carrying over to game day, but right tackle Austin Howard said he thought the team prepared "very well" this week.
"It's just frustrating that we couldn't pull it out because we all were very focused on how big this game was and the fact that we really needed to get the 'W' today," Howard said.
Miami held the Jets to only 177 yards of offence, their lowest output of the season.
The Jets host the Oakland Raiders next week.