The New York Jets offense couldn't get much worse.
In fact, it has only done worse than its 185 yards of total offense four other times under Rex Ryan.
Now, the questions are, how did it get this bad and how do the Jets pick up the pieces from here?
Most of the response to my postgame column indicates fans are blaming Mark Sanchez and Tony Sparano. Sanchez has some measure of job security thanks to the two-year extension he signed this past offseason. Sparano signed a three-year deal this past offseason as well.
So who gets the blame? What are some of the big changes that will need to be made?
We'll start with Sparano, whose unimaginative offense was on full display on Sunday when the big wrinkle installed over the bye week involved three screen passes from Tim Tebow to Jeremy Kerley that netted eight yards.
Sparano handled Chad Henne fairly well in Miami and it was believed he could succeed in maximizing the talent we've seen from Sanchez. Thus far, that hasn't happened. Far from it—Sanchez seems to have regressed.
I'm not a Sanchez apologist, but it gets harder to defend his performance week after week with more of the same. He threw for a total of 124 yards, with 75 of them coming on two completions. It was his fifth game with a completion rate below 50 percent this year and his sixth below a 67 passer rating.
The stat lines get all the attention, but they don't tell the story quite like the anecdotes themselves.
Take, for example, his red-zone interception—the fourth one he's thrown this season.
Oh, look, a wide open Stephen Hill doing jumping jacks in the back of the end zone.
No need to look that way, it's not like he had time to pump fake to the other direction before throwing it to Keller (read: he had time to pump fake to the other direction before throwing it to Keller).
"It's just a bad decision," Sanchez told The Star-Ledger's Conor Orr. "I strung the play out for too long and got greedy; that kind of stuff happens when you do that."
Funny, then, that all he had to do was get greedier and take the wide open pass when it was right there to be had. Granted, with a team-high five dropped passes, there's no guarantee this one would have gone for six.
That being said, Rex was right to say that the blame for the offense's struggles can't fall on one guy.
Besides, there will probably be more than a few changes between now and next season.
Could any NFL quarterback thrive in the situation that has been presented to Sanchez? Not just stay afloat, but carry the offense? Jets receivers caught just three passes on their 12 targets on Sunday, not counting the three aforementioned Tebow-Kerley screens.
The ground-and-pound offense generates one of the 10 worst averages in the league at 3.8 YPA. The Jets didn't have a single run of over nine yards against the Seahawks on Sunday.
What we have seen from Shonn Greene this year has proven that he is not the viable No. 1 running back that he flashed the potential to be earlier in his career. Minus one big game against the Colts, he's rushed 122 times for 406 yards (3.3 YPA) and two touchdowns.
That probably wouldn't be good enough on a pass-happy team, and is unacceptable on a run-oriented team.
Like the time I found a pile of maggots at the bottom of the trash can at my apartment, it doesn't get that bad overnight. That kind of offensive offense devolves over time due to neglect.
That's exactly what happened in the case of the Jets, who were once at least a formidable offense, back 100 years ago when they had the likes of Braylon Edwards, Jerricho Cotchery, Leon Washington, Thomas Jones and others along the way.
Give general manager Mike Tannenbaum his due credit for the acquisitions of Darrelle Revis, Nick Mangold, D'Brickashaw Ferguson and others, but more than a handful of bad personnel decisions led the Jets to this point, and even out of those three, one is out for the season and the other two have underperformed on expectations for their second consecutive year.
A quick look at the upcoming free agents (via Spotrac.com) for 2013 reveals a long list of prominent names who might not be extended.
Guards Brandon Moore and Matt Slauson, tackle Austin Howard, running back Shonn Greene and wide receiver Chaz Schilens are some of the prominent figures from this season that have been under scrutiny, and who could be evaluated closely this offseason.
Each has had an underwhelming season. None can be built around.
In fact, outside of Kerley and possibly Keller, it's hard to spot the players on the offense that can be built around for the long term.
Almost everyone else is over 30, untalented or has been proven divisive in their tenure with the Jets.
We have witnessed a meltdown on the offensive side of the ball, as the Jets have gone 3-9 in their past 12 games and have turned the ball over 27 times while scoring 225 points (18.75 points per game).
With the offseason drawing near, it may not be long before the roster follows suit.
Erik Frenz is the AFC East lead blogger for Bleacher Report. Be sure to follow Erik on Twitter and "like" the AFC East blog on Facebook to keep up with all the updates. Unless specified otherwise, all quotes are obtained via New York Jets press releases.
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