MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Is there a level below tanking? If there is, the New York Jets found it Sunday, landing there with a hard, embarrassing and mind-boggling thud -- a 26-18 loss to the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium. It will be remembered as one of the worst losses in franchise history, and it introduces "one-and-done" into the conversation surrounding coach Adam Gase.
Could it happen? Should it happen?
Know this: Jets CEO Christopher Johnson doesn't want to fire Gase; he wants it to work. Gase was his first significant hire as acting owner, and he surrounded Gase with strong allies, including first-year general manager Joe Douglas and new team president Hymie Elhai. He also gave Gase a four-year contract, so he would be paying three head coaches in 2020 if he makes a move -- Gase, former coach Todd Bowles and the future coach.
But this is unacceptable.
The Jets dropped to 1-7, falling to a historically bad team that isn't even trying to win in 2019. Despite their many injuries and personnel issues, the Jets were the better team on paper. There was no excuse to lose, and it can only mean one or two things: Gase did a poor job of leading his current team against his former team and/or the team didn't play for him.
Either way, it's alarming. It was a tragi-comedy, as center Jonotthan Harrison fired a shotgun snap past a not-ready quarterback Sam Darnold, resulting in a safety. Worse, no one chased after the loose ball as it bounced out of the end zone.
The Jets haven't been a laughingstock like this since 1996, their darkest season (1-15). Clearly, the issues run deeper than Darnold (who is regressing), the offensive line (which can't block) and the defense (which can't cover). Johnson has a Gase issue, and nothing short of a second-half resurgence will make it go away. The scheduled is favorable, but so what?
The Jets ... lost ... to ... the ... Dolphins!
That means anything is possible, including one-and-done for Gase.
Bold prediction: The fan base is so disgusted that it won't shock anyone if a "Fire Gase!" banner is flown over MetLife Stadium next Sunday when the Jets "host" the New York Giants.
QB breakdown: Darnold's numbers look good on paper (27-for-39, 260 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 85.4 rating), but forget the paper. Continuing his downward trend, he made several poor decisions under duress, none bigger than a goal-line interception at the end of the second quarter. Darnold rolled left and, with linebacker Raekwon McMillan hanging on him, he inexplicably tried to throw the ball. It came out like the infamous Garo Yepremian pass in Super Bowl VII and was picked off -- his league-leading fifth red zone interception since 2018.
This makes three poor performances in a row for Darnold, who has reverted to a version of his final season at USC -- a talented player who has become turnover-prone because of bad habits and bad decisions. His regression doesn't bode well for Gase, who was hired, in large part, to make Darnold into a star.
A pattern is developing. For the second straight week, the Jets scored a touchdown on their opening possession, but they made no adjustments and managed only two field goals and a safety.
Buy a breakout performance: "Breakout" is a relative term whenever you're talking about the Jets, but it's worth noting that running back Le'Veon Bell -- frustrated by his lack of involvement last week -- received a total of 25 touches, 14 more than last week. Bell's text message to Gase apparently worked. Bell was featured, but the yards on the ground were hard to come by, as he finished with only 66. There was simply no daylight. So much for the theory Bell could single-handedly lift the offense.
Troubling trend: The Jets' suspect cornerbacks were exposed by the 30th-ranked passing offense. Yes, really. Darryl Roberts and Nate Hairston each surrendered a touchdown, and there was a miscommunication between Roberts and safety Jamal Adams on another touchdown. Give credit to wily quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick for attacking the Jets' fatal flaw on defense. Their so-called No. 1 corner, Trumaine Johnson, didn't play because of two sprained ankles. Would he have made a difference? Probably not. This is a major problem, and it has to be addressed in the offseason.
Eye-popping NextGen Stat: Dolphins wide receiver Preston Williams had 8.01 yards of separation on his 12-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter. How is that possible on a 12-yard play? Roberts thought he had deep safety help, but Adams came up to cover the short zone. Result: A wide-open receiver. Inexcusable.
Silver lining: Well, at least the Jets had wide receiver Jamison Crowder, who finished with 8 catches for 83 yards and his first touchdown as a Jet.