And to think: There actually were some Jets fans who were concerned about this game, worried that the Jets might actually defeat the Dolphins and ruin the run of perfection they’ve had going this season.
Sam Darnold was returning to the lineup after missing the past two games with a shoulder injury and there was promise. Because this was the first time all season he had all three of his top receivers — Jamison Crowder, Breshad Perriman and Denzel Mims — on the field with him in a game.
The Jets lost again, 20-3 to Miami at MetLife Stadium, and the potential (likely?) winless season marches on — 0-11 and counting.
Here’s the worst of it: The Jets offense looked more anemic with Darnold playing than it had the previous two games with veteran backup Joe Flacco filling in for him.
Darnold and his coach Adam Gase are out of excuses.
The central theme to the defense of Darnold all of this season has been the fact that he’d never had his offensive weapons together on the field with him at the same time.
Well, Darnold had all of them together on Sunday and he responded by missing them too often with errant throws and by tossing two killer interceptions, the first of which was an amateur-hour force into coverage in Miami territory with the Jets still in the game.
“Two decisions that I made, the two picks … those suck,’’ a downtrodden Darnold said after the game. “I’ve got to be better. I didn’t play well enough to win a ballgame today.’’
Raise your hand if you’ve heard this lament from Darnold after a game before.
Darnold, 16 of 27 for 197 yards and the two interceptions, was badly outplayed by former Jets veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who completed 24 of 39 for 257 yards with two touchdowns and no turnovers for the Dolphins.
The Dolphins (7-4) did everything in their power to keep the inferior Jets in the game. And the Jets did everything in their power to say, “Thanks, but no thanks. You take it. You need it more than we do.’’
The Jets, down 13-3, had a chip-shot 29-yard field-goal attempt by Sergio Castillo sail wide right on the final play of the first half.
Then, on the Jets’ first possession of the second half, Darnold, flushed from the pocket to his right on a third-and-8 from the Miami 32, forced that pass across his body to Crowder and put the ball between the “4’’ and the “0’’ of Miami cornerback Nik Needham’s jersey.
So, there went — at worst — six points on those possessions, points that could have cut the Miami lead to 13-9 at the time.
Jets defensive tackle Quinnen Williams forced a Matt Breida fumble that was recovered by Harvey Langi at the Miami 45-yard line with 4:09 remaining in the third quarter.
The offense responded by going three plays and a punt from the Miami 44.
Jets linebacker Jordan Jenkins forced a Patrick Laird fumble that was recovered by Neville Hewitt on the Dolphins’ next possession, giving the offense the ball on the Miami 26-yard line with 38 seconds remaining in the third quarter with the Jets still trailing by 10.
The offense responded by going four-and-out, with Frank Gore stoned for a 1-yard loss on fourth-and-1 from the Dolphins 17.
Two turnovers in Miami territory led to zero points. Inexcusable.
Those three failed offensive possessions, all of which were in Miami territory, beginning with the Needham pick, were on Darnold.
Bill Parcells, for as long as he coached, always said that a quarterback is judged by two things: How many games his team wins and how often he gets his team into the end zone.
Well, the Jets are winless and they failed to get into the end zone Sunday despite spending what felt like all afternoon on the Miami side of the 50-yard line.
That’s on Darnold.
No more excuses.
Gase is going to be fired. When is merely a matter of time. Whether Jets CEO Christopher Johnson follows suit with what the Lions did this weekend, firing Matt Patricia, and makes the change now or whether he waits until after this miserable season is complete to do it is somewhat irrelevant.
For Darnold, Sunday was damning. He delivered no evidence whatsoever that he’s the franchise quarterback the Jets drafted him to be three years ago, that he should be the centerpiece of the solution once a new head coach is hired.
“I’m super confident in Adam and the way he coaches,’’ Darnold said when asked about his dead-man-walking head coach. “Us players have got to be better. And me personally, I’ve got to play better.’’
It’s been too late for Gase for weeks. Now, it feels like it’s too late for Darnold, too.