New York embarrassed itself with a comedy of errors, particularly during the 35 unanswered points by New England in the second quarter. The Jets dropped to 4-7 and their playoff chances are reduced to virtually zero.
From this point forward, it's time for the Jets to start thinking about 2013. New York still has five games left, but this is the start of a lengthy self-evaluation process for next season.
Here are the questions New York should consider:
Who is the quarterback?
It is clear that Mark Sanchez is not the long-term solution. Sanchez had four years to prove he is a franchise quarterback and is regressing. He is 12-15 as a starter the past two seasons.
New York must figure out in these final five games if Sanchez deserves to be the starting quarterback for a fifth year in 2013. Popular backup Tim Tebow is on the roster, and Jets fans are calling for Tebow to get a shot. At 4-7, it may be wise for New York to see what it has in Tebow.
But contractually for the long haul, the Jets may be stuck with Sanchez. He has a lot of guaranteed money next year with his recent contract extension. Going in a different direction would be horrific for New York’s salary cap and the bottom line.
This is a difficult decision for the Jets because Sanchez is not getting better. He is an average quarterback, at best, who can only thrive when everything is going well around him. If Sanchez remains the starter, the Jets could go through many of the same issues on offense next year.
Who stays and who goes?
Sanchez is contractually strapped to the Jets next season. But the Jets have several veteran free agents they can let go. Pending free agents like starting tailback Shonn Greene, tight end Dustin Keller and safeties LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell are all playing out the final five games of their contracts.
New York does not have a lot of cap room next year. Therefore, the Jets have a lot of decisions to make on veterans and whether they will stick around after this season.
The Jets are an older team that was built to win now. But they latched onto veterans too long and it's time to get younger and faster. A lot of players are auditioning for jobs in New York in the final month of the season.
Do Jets have the right GM and coach?
Jets owner Woody Johnson said a week ago that he didn’t sign up for 3-6. Well, the boss certainly didn’t sign up for a 30-point loss at home to their biggest rival on national television.
The Jets looked like the "Bad News Bears" at times Thursday, and that reflects on the coaching staff that prepared the team and the front office that put the team together. New York is a roster without much speed or depth, and that’s on general manager Mike Tannenbaum. The Jets also haven’t been well coached at times this year, and that’s on Rex Ryan.
I believe Ryan and Tannenbaum deserve another year. But performances like Thursday in a big game make this pair hard to defend.
Johnson will be watching closely how the Jets play in the final five games, and that could directly impact the future of New York’s head coach and general manager.
It's going to be a long five games for the Jets. But this team has a lot more questions than answers, and this is the time to start searching for solutions.