SEATTLE – The somber scene inside the dead quiet that engulfed the Jets locker room when it was all over – their game against the Seahawks and their playoff hopes – told you all you needed to know about what transpired Sunday afternoon at Lumen Field.
Jets quarterback Mike White, dressed in only his game pants, sat slumped over on a stool in front of his locker slowly tearing the play sheet from his game wristband into what looked like a million tiny pieces.
The shredded pieces of paper fell into a pile on the floor below White were symbolic, because the Jets’ season was reduced to a pile of you-know-what after Sunday’s game.
A few minutes before that moving scene, White stood before reporters and tried to put into words the Jets’ lackluster 23-6 loss to the Seahawks that mathematically eliminated them from the playoffs.
“It stings, it’s tough, it’s gut-wrenching, it’s all of the above — whatever adjective you want to use to describe it,” White said. “The guys in that locker room deserve a certain standard… and I didn’t live up to that standard or play to that standard today.”
White, who returned to the starting lineup after missing two games with cracked ribs, did not play well, but he was hardly the only problem for the Jets on this day. The Jets played complementary football – they all stunk.
White, in just his second season with the Jets, is new around these parts and not aware that what took place Sunday is hardly anything new to Jets fans, who’ve been lugging this baggage around for decades.
Jets fans don’t want to hear this because they’ve understandably grown to be sick and tired of the narrative.
Jets head coach Robert Saleh and general manager Joe Douglas don’t want to hear it because they’ve made it their mission to distance themselves from the dark past of this doomed and damned franchise.
But it was there for all to see on Sunday in Seattle.
Same old Jets.
Argue against that if you choose, but deliver an educated argument to dispute it.
This was the Jets’ fifth defeat in a row as they absolutely leaked all over their feel-good 7-4 start that had their fans dreaming of a first playoff game in 12 years. Those dreams are now dashed.
The only thing that could have added insult to the Jets’ latest — and most damning — day is if the Dolphins had defeated the Patriots earlier on Sunday to give the Jets control of their own destiny (win their final two games and qualify for the postseason for the first time since 2010).
Raise your hand if you’re a Jets fan and you’ve seen this movie before.
Where do we start with the extraordinary rash of insults?
- How about with Geno Smith, the failed Jets quarterback who’s now the darling of the Pacific Northwest as the Seahawks’ starting quarterback, contributing to eliminating his former team from playoff contention?
- How about with the Jets’ defense, which has fancied itself as one of the best in the league, setting a tone for the loss by allowing the Seahawks to score on their first three offensive possessions, allowing a 60-yard run by running back Kenneth Walker on the first play from scrimmage?
- How about the Jets’ offense, which entered the game having produced just four touchdowns in the previous four games, not even managing to score one on Sunday, leaving the team without a TD in the past eight quarters.
All the good things Saleh, Douglas and the Jets have done felt like they’ve been undone in the past five weeks.
“We feel like we blew the season,” receiver Garrett Wilson said.
“I promise you no one is hurting more than the people in the locker room, especially me,” said Saleh, who appeared ashen after the game. “It stings big-time right now.”
This Jets collapse ranks with some doozies in their tortured history, conjuring up very familiar feelings of disgust.
In 1994, ironically with current Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll as their coach, the Jets were 6-5 and riding high when the Dan Marino fake spike sparked a five-game losing streak to end the season — and Carroll’s one-year career as the HC of the NYJ.
You may remember 2008 with the aging Brett Favre leading them to an 8-3 start that melted down to a 9-7 playoff-less finish and the end of head coach Eric Mangini’s tenure.
In 2011, the Jets were 8-5 with Rex Ryan as head coach and lost their final three games to finish 8-8 and — as usual — out of the playoffs.
In 2015, the Jets were 10-5 and needed to beat Ryan’s Bills in the regular-season finale to get into the playoffs and lost 22-17 to miss the postseason.
And now this.
“I don’t want to have this feeling anymore,” rookie cornerback Sauce Gardner said.
Sauce, like Mike White, is also new around here.
Get used to it, kid.