SEATTLE -- The New York Jets are finished. They're so done. Antonio Cromartie's playoff guarantee went stale faster than a carton of milk in the desert. They were so bad, so utterly inept on offense Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks that it moved Rex Ryan to tears.
In his postgame address to the team, Ryan got so emotional that he actually cried, according to several players. He was everything in the locker room -- mad, frustrated, urging. And harsh. According to players, he asked the pointed question, "When are you guys going to believe?"
It's hard to believe in the Jets, 28-7 losers at CenturyLink Field. They've dropped three in a row and five of their past six games, sinking to 3-6 -- the low-water mark of the Ryan era. And it could get worse before it gets better because you can't win if you can't score, and you've got problems when your leading scorer is a 300-pound defensive end, Muhammad Wilkerson, who returned a fumble for a touchdown.
"A brutal loss," Ryan said at his news conference, his eyes still red and glassy.
It doesn't matter who is playing quarterback, Mark Sanchez or Tim Tebow. For the record, Ryan said he's sticking with Sanchez, and he got defensive when pressed on the issue. Later, Cromartie, playing head coach for a moment, said anybody who thinks Sanchez should be benched "can kiss my a--. Mark is our quarterback and will continue to be our quarterback for the rest of the season."
It's the right call to ride out the storm with Sanchez. The season is beyond salvageable, and the worst move would be to compromise the future while screwing up the present. If you bench Sanchez, it's over, and we all know Tebow isn't the future. They have to grin and bear it, enduring several weeks of garbage time. Even Ryan, eternal optimist, conceded it's bleak.
"Yeah, I mean I don't know how many more losses you want to spot somebody before you think you can make the playoffs," Ryan said. "It's about a 2 percent chance of making the playoffs with the record we have."
Let's be real: The Jets are closer to the No. 1 pick in the 2013 draft than making the playoffs. Sunday was their chance to reverse the season, to make a statement with the biggest road win of the Ryan era. With the bye, they had two weeks to prepare, mentally and physically.
They responded by managing only 185 total yards, committing three turnovers, sabotaging their only scoring threat with two mind-boggling mistakes and allowing three long touchdown passes -- the last of which was thrown by a wide receiver, Golden Tate.
That's right, Sanchez was the fourth-most efficient passer in the stadium, behind Tate, Russell Wilson and Tebow, who went 3-for-3 for eight yards in a cameo QB role.
"We can't win with the way I played today," said Sanchez, who completed only 9 of 22 passes for 124 yards, threw his fourth red-zone interception and lost a fumble because he failed [again] to protect the ball.
But this was more than a Sanchez problem.
There were too many mental and physical errors, namely Dustin Keller getting flagged for a false start on the Seahawks' 1-yard line and Sanchez throwing an ugly interception on the next play. Tebow, in at quarterback, was convinced he would've scored from the 1 on a counter run. He was visibly ticked off as he left the field for the next play, Sanchez's worst interception of the season.
That pretty much sucked the air out of the entire team, and it was only the second quarter, the game tied at 7-7. The defense hung in for three quarters, but it finally succumbed.
No wonder Ryan cried after the game. His once-formidable team, which has now dropped nine of their past 12 games, has morphed into the Jacksonville Jaguars.
"We're all emotional," said Bryan Thomas, the team's longest-tenured player. "If this doesn't affect everybody, you don't have a f------- heart."
Thomas has seen some bad times in his day. This might be the worst.
"We're all pissed," he said. "We can't let games slip away. We don't have much time left. We have only seven damn games to go. Time is slipping."
Make no mistake, owner Woody Johnson will have something to say about this when the season is over. He's watching non-competitive football, and it has to make him sick. In the past two games, the Jets have been outscored, 58-16. They've lost by at least 17 points in four games. In the parity-driven NFL, that's hard to believe.
The Jets' talent base has eroded considerably, and that falls on general manager Mike Tannenbaum. His cast of no-name receivers couldn't create any separation against the Seahawks' big, physical cornerbacks. Offensive coordinator Tony Sparano didn't provide any wrinkles -- well, except for having Tebow dinking and dunking. Once again, there were break downs in pass protections, unblocked blitzers coming from all directions.
Ultimately, this falls on Ryan, who presides over an undisciplined team that loses confidence at the first hint of adversity. Afterward, his voice almost cracked a couple of times while addressing reporters.
"Every single one of them hurts, guys, every one of them," he said, meaning defeats.
Clearly, Ryan's postgame address shook the team, as many players declined to reveal the specifics of what he said.
"Rex was obviously disappointed," Mike DeVito said. "If you're not disappointed after a loss like that, something is wrong."
Something is wrong, all right. The product on the field stinks.