ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Willie Colon's lips quivered as he spoke. A mixture of irritation and anger bubbled to the surface after Colon again was asked if the Jets are a playoff-caliber team. The right guard didn't raise his voice, but he made his point known.
"I'm tired of answering that damn question,'' Colon said. "I don't want to be asked that no more. We're not going to be a playoff team until they say we're in the playoffs. Right now, we just lost to the ---- Buffalo Bills. So I'm tired of answering that question. So please don't ask me that.''
Rex Ryan insisted his players were fresh coming off their Week 10 bye. But the Jets played half-dead Sunday in a 37-14 loss to the Bills, who hadn't won since late October. This defeat was demoralizing and depressing, and it also was historic. The Jets became the first NFL team to alternate wins and losses through its first 10 games.
After days of talking about the importance of making a second-half playoff push, they find themselves at 5-5 (1-4 on the road) and unsure of who they truly are.
The Jets have mastered the art of inconsistency, and their rookie quarterback remains the biggest culprit in their erratic outings. Geno Smith (8-for-23, 103 yards) threw three interceptions, including a pick-6, to bring his turnover total to 20. He was benched in the fourth quarter.
Matt Simms fared much better, throwing a 13-yard TD pass to Jeff Cumberland early in the fourth. But by then, it was over.
The Jets received a scare early when Smith took a hard helmet hit to the sternum from tackle Marcell Dareus. Trainers tended to Smith for several minutes but he walked off the field under his own power. Simms took one snap before Smith returned.
Smith, who was sacked four times for a loss of 30 yards, had a passer rating of 10.1. The number for Simms (4-for-6, 60 yards) was 138.9. But Ryan said he's sticking with the rookie.
"I don't think it's fair to place it on one man,'' Ryan said. "We have to have a hard look at what we're doing, but I would say Geno is our starting quarterback against Baltimore next week.''
Somehow every unit -- offense, defense and special teams -- contributed to a sad showing after a Saturday night team outing at arcade chain Dave & Buster's. Even Nick Folk, arguably the MVP of their season, wasn't immune. His perfect streak (23-for-23) ended in the first quarter when he missed a 48-yard field-goal attempt wide right in winds gusting to 30 mph.
While Smith struggled to escape the relentless pressure of Mike Pettine's defense, Ryan's secondary was as porous as ever. It entered the game having given up eight pass plays of 40 yards or more. The trend continued, thanks to rookie Dee Milliner and Antonio Cromartie. T.J. Graham caught two passes for 74 yards, one a 34-yard score on Milliner. Graham also caught a 40-yard pass on Milliner to set up Marquise Goodwin's 43-yard TD on Cromartie.
"I was so ---- at myself,'' Cromartie said of being beaten badly by Goodwin, a former Olympic track and field star. "Honestly, I looked back at the ball too long. I felt like I drifted away from when I was already on the top of the route. That kind of slowed me down, he got up on top, and he just made a play on the ball. I know I can make that play.''
But he didn't. And neither did several other Jets.
Ryan is sick of searching for answers to the same questions, and his players are tired of sounding like broken records.
"Getting the ball thrown over our head is unacceptable,'' linebacker Calvin Pace said. "[Goodwin] has world-class speed. What else does he do besides run deep? [Graham], he's a deep threat. Get back. I'm not going to let him throw the ball over my head.''
Jets receiver David Nelson, a former Bill, said the biggest issue for the Jets is maturity. "We've got to just grow up,'' he said.
The Jets trailed 20-0 at halftime and didn't score until midway through the third. After a 38-yard catch by Santonio Holmes, Chris Ivory (15 carries, 98 yards) ran for a 1-yard score.
The Bills had no problems finding the end zone. Safety Jairus Byrd picked off Smith twice, and with 1:20 left in the third, Da'Norris Searcy returned an interception 32 yards for a score.
As for the constant turnovers, Pace said: "We've seen that for the last six years. Throw the ball to the other team, you will lose.''
Ryan agreed. "You turn it over four times,'' he said, "you're not going to win any games.''