W2W4: New York Jets vs. Miami Dolphins

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- This is our coach.

John Idzik spoke those words amid the raucous locker-room celebration last Dec. 29 at Sun Life Stadium, where the New York Jets announced the return of Rex Ryan after beating the Miami Dolphins.

Ryan was mobbed by the players, who saved the coach's job with a strong finish. It created one of those rare Jet moments -- a happy ending, 8-8 record notwithstanding.

Who knew it would be the last true highlight of the Ryan era?

One year later, the Jets are back in South Florida, but there will be no grand in this finale. Ryan is expected to be fired on Black Monday -- Idzik, too -- a dark cloud that has hovered over the team for two months.

They're still playing hard for Ryan, but there will be no 11th-hour reprieve. The best-case scenario is a going-away win for the beloved coach, whose career record is 45-50.

Kickoff is 1 p.m. ET. The top storylines:

1. The great hope: The Jets (3-12), currently in the No. 4 position, could jump as high as No. 3 or as low as No. 6. There's a big difference between the third pick and the sixth pick. Based on early projections, the draft will include three offensive skill players that stand out among the rest -- quarterbacks Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston and wide receiver Amari Cooper. A top-3 pick would guarantee one of those players -- assuming they turn pro. To move up to third, the Jets have to lose and hope the Jacksonville Jaguars (3-12) beat the Houston Texans.

2. Some perspective, please: Win or lose, this already ranks among the worst seasons in Jets history -- and that's saying something. There have been five 4-12 seasons, but only one 3-13 season -- 1995. Rock bottom, of course, was 1-15 in 1996. In terms of point differential, the current mark (minus-131) ranks as the fourth-worst in a 16-game season. A loss drops the Jets to 0-6 in the AFC East; they haven't gone winless since the divisions were realigned in 2002. Yep, the season can't end soon enough.

3. Many farewells: There will be a roster shakeup in the offseason. What, you expected status quo after this kind of the season? There probably will be new talent evaluators in the building, and they will have no loyalty to the holdovers. Several notable veterans are not expected to be back, including a number of free agents -- quarterback Michael Vick, guard Willie Colon, safety Dawan Landry and running back Bilal Powell. Linebacker David Harris, the most important free agent, could follow Ryan to his next team if he lands another coaching job. Possible salary-cap casualties are wide receiver Percy Harvin, running back Chris Johnson and linebacker Calvin Pace.

4. Geno's last hurrah? Geno Smith envisions himself as the starting quarterback for “a long time.” Is that realistic? Probably not, but Smith is under contract for two more years, so he's not going anywhere. Obviously, he will be evaluated by the new regime, which will see a young quarterback who failed to make progress in his second season. Contrary to popular belief, he made subtle improvements, but not enough to eliminate the doubts about his future.

In the previous meeting with the Dolphins, Smith was kept in bubble wrap (only 13 passes) because they didn't trust him against Miami's formidable pass rush. This game will tell us if the coaching staff believes he has done any growing up over the past month. The Jets could be without two of their best players, Harvin (ribs) and center Nick Mangold (ankle). That'll make it tougher for Smith.