Jets eliminated from playoff contention — ‘It’s gut-wrenching’

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Seattle — New York Jets quarterback Mike White He sat still at his locker for a few minutes, staring at the play sheet at his feet. Finally, he reached down and picked up the papers and methodically tore them into small pieces — a metaphor for the Jets’ once-promising season.

Their loss was 23-6 Seattle Seahawks Sunday was the Jets’ fifth straight loss at Lumen Field, culminating in an epic collapse that eliminated them from playoff contention. It extended their postseason drought to 12 straight years, the longest active streak in the NFL and now the longest such streak in franchise history. It also snapped their seventh straight losing season.

“It stings,” White said. “It’s hard. It’s gut-wrenching. It’s all of the above. You can use any adjective you want to use to describe it.”

The Jets are 7-4 after being outshot 31-10 Chicago Bears Nov. 27, seemingly heading toward a slump-real playoff appearance. Hampered by a cold offense and quarterback instability, they are now in the midst of possibly the worst postseason nose dive in team history. They had lost that many in a row since their 10th game in 1996, their infamous 1-15 season.

“Nobody’s hurting more than the guys in the locker room, especially me,” coach Robert Saleh said. “At the same time, I know it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but there are a lot of really great things to see this season. But right now it’s hitting big time.”

With a 4-13 record in Saleh’s first season, the Jets (7-9) weren’t expected to be a strong playoff contender in 2022, but they’ve been the biggest surprise in their fast start. Expectations were raised – and everything fell apart.

“We feel ourselves as players,” the tight end said Tyler Conklin Said “Nobody’s happy about it. I feel for the fans, I feel for everybody. We wanted it too, and we didn’t play well enough and it hurts. It’s bad. You know you’re not going to get it. It changes until next season.” An opportunity to do, which makes it even more — level.”

Saleh said he would “definitely look at everything from top to bottom, starting with me.” Crime will be most scrutinized. It failed to score a touchdown in the second game; The Jets have averaged just 12 points per game during the five-game losing streak.

“It’s shocking,” White said of the slump — eight quarters without a touchdown.

The Jets hoped White’s return to the lineup would provide the spark needed to win the final two games and possibly make the playoffs. A pair of wins, combined with one loss New England Patriots, would result in a wild-card berth. But, after missing two games with broken ribs, White was rusty and looked uncomfortable under pressure Sunday.

White, in his fourth start since being benched as a substitute Jack Wilson, completed just 23 of 46 passes for 240 yards and two interceptions. He was sacked four times and forced 3-for-15, according to ESPN Stats & Data Research.

He didn’t deny that his ribs could be a factor in his performance.

“I was cleared to play by the doctors,” he said. “The guys in that locker room deserve a certain standard. I knew what I was signing up for. I was cleared by the doctors, I practiced all week. Basically, what I’m saying is, these guys deserve a standard. I’m the one today. Didn’t live up to the standards.”

Different quarterbacks, same results.

In the past four games — two with Wilson, two with White — the Jets have scored 12, 17, three and six points. That puts the spotlight on offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur, whose offense has topped 30 points just five times in 33 games. Conklin said they were “flat” on Sunday.

“We seem to have blown the season,” the rookie wide receiver said Garrett Wilson, speaking of groups in general. “We wanted a chance in the playoffs. I’m sure of that [loss] I mean we’re not going. At the end of the day, that’s what we wanted to do — and have a chance to prove ourselves beyond that. We didn’t get there, so we don’t feel good about it at all.”

The Jets were out of the game from the start, falling behind 17-3, after the defense allowed three consecutive scoring drives. After that, they never really threatened, as LaFleur got away with the ground game and White kept misfiring. He was 17-for-40 when targeting receivers not named Conklin.

After a couple of unfortunate results last weekend, the Jets got an unexpected shot at the playoffs — “a blessing from the football gods,” cornerback DJ Reid Said but they squandered their second chance.

“We had high expectations all season and we just didn’t meet them,” the special teams captain Justin Hardy said “It’s always disappointing when you don’t take the next step and go to the postseason. We’ll have a bad taste in our mouths for a long time.”

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