EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The only thing worse than the New York Jets' performance on the field was their reaction to it afterward. There was none.
There was no anger, not even from Rex Ryan, who looked and sounded like a beaten man. Defiant Rex was nowhere to be found. His players, the ones who stuck around to talk to the media, appeared dead and/or dumfounded by the 30-9 loss to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday at MetLife Stadium -- arguably the most inexplicable defeat of the Ryan era.
Oh, sure, Antonio Cromartie showed some life, calling Reggie Bush a "punk." Is there anything more unbecoming than name-calling from a loser's locker room? For the most part, the Jets seemed more concerned about beating Hurricane Sandy -- getting out of town on their bye week -- than explaining how they got beat by a backup quarterback.
And that's alarming. The Jets (3-5), losers of two straight, were victimized by a hit-and-run and they didn't bother to get the number of the license plate. They took their beating and went home.
Doused in hot sauce.
"To say I never saw this coming is an understatement," Ryan said, adding that he was "blown away" and "shocked" by his team's performance.
He talked about the great week of practice. OK, so crown them the champions of Florham Park. That kind of talk is hollow. The paying customers don't want to hear about crisp practices. As Bill Parcells used to say, don't talk about the labor, show me the baby.
Truth is, the Jets played with no heart. And that's on the players and Ryan. They played with no brains. And that's on Ryan and his coaches. They fell behind 10-0 after a calamity of special-teams errors -- and there were more to come -- but they showed absolutely no fight.
And this game meant everything -- a must-win, some players called it. It's a damning indictment of Ryan and the entire administration to play this poorly with so much at stake. It was a page out of the "Same Old Jets" history book.
Mark Sanchez, lucky to still have his starting job, refused to call it a setback. Honest.
"I wouldn't say that," he said. "We just have to put it in the category of the unexpected and move on."
The Jets were schooled by a Miami team that used its bye week to cook up different wrinkles, and they never adjusted. For the Jets, so many of the key plays in the game came down to blocking -- or lack thereof.
They couldn't block the Dolphins' third-down blitzes. Sanchez was sacked four times, including backside blitzes from the safety and slot corner in the first quarter. The latter resulted in a fumble by Sanchez, who committed two turnovers in a dreadful game.
Sanchez, who played well last week against the non-blitzing New England Patriots, was totally rattled by the Dolphins' pressure. Tight end Dustin Keller called it "a grab bag of different pressures and we didn't adjust to them well. That's our fault as players. The coaches had us ready for it during the week. We should've had our antenna up."
Keller was being kind. Offensive coordinator Tony Sparano, who coached these same Dolphins for nearly four years, deserves some blame, too. He's an old line coach whose forte is protecting the quarterback, but his blocking schemes failed to do that. Sanchez was hit seven times.
"Coming off the bye week, they had some wrinkles and some tweaks and stuff," Sanchez said. "That's natural, but nothing we couldn't handle."
Oh, really? The Jets didn't cross midfield on their first six possessions and went 1-for-4 in the red zone. They couldn't get the ball to Jeremy Kerley, their best playmaker. They played the third quarter in a trance, taking their time instead of going into hurry-up mode.
And, of course, they made Tim Tebow a decoy -- again. They used him four times as a receiver. Obviously, that really threw the Dolphins for a loop. They were probably laughing.
Things were so bad the Jets couldn't even execute a simple punt. Tebow, the personal protector, didn't protect very well, as Jimmy Wilson crashed through the middle of the line and blocked Robert Malone's punt. It was recovered in the end zone, and the Dolphins had a 10-0 lead.
"We weren't confused," Tebow said. "They had good speed and got around us."
The Dolphins did a lot of that. They blocked a field goal, caught the Jets napping on a surprise onside kick, broke a 57-yard kickoff return that set up a touchdown and hit a couple of long passes with their No. 2 quarterback, Matt Moore, who replaced the injured Ryan Tannehill early in the game.
Who knows? Maybe the Jets wanted to put some hot sauce on Tannehill. If so, they accomplished that and little else.
The only thing that would've made this worse for the Jets was if Bush had scored a touchdown. Nevertheless, he took great delight in saying, "This is as good as it gets."
The Jets talked big all week, with Cromartie, LaRon Landry and Aaron Maybin woofing about Bush. Even Ryan joined the fray, saying Bush should apologize for his callous remarks about Darrelle Revis in Week 3.
Afterward, Ryan was almost speechless, a stark contrast to his defiant and angry mood after the 34-0 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. After this blowout, he looked and sounded lost.
"Do we need to tweak some things? Do we need to change some things?" he asked rhetorically. "You have to take a good, honest look at that."
During the bye week, he meant.
Maybe bye-bye for the Jets.