Ever since he threw three touchdown passes on Oct. 7 in Atlanta, Geno Smith has turned into the Incredible Shrinking Quarterback.
In the first half On Sunday at MetLife Stadium, it reached the point that the Jets' offense disappeared almost completely right along with him. The Jets controlled the ball for only 5:48 in the half, running just 16 plays from scrimmage that resulted in 39 yards and two first downs.
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The Jets showed marginal improvement with backup Matt Simms at quarterback in the second half of a 23-3 loss to Miami, but the frustration of receivers running pass routes to nowhere was evident in the aftermath.
"It's disappointing," wide receiver Santonio Holmes said. "We pride ourselves on scoring touchdowns. At the beginning of the season, we were in the top five or top 10, and suddenly there's a big drop-off."
There was some question whether Holmes would play with a hamstring injury. He suited up but played only a few snaps early, never saw a ball thrown his way and sat the rest of the game.
"It was a coach's decision, limited plays, coming off an injury," Holmes said. Asked if he thought he could play the entire game, he said, "No. I didn't think that, no."
Holmes probably is the most dangerous receiving weapon in the Jets' limited arsenal, but even if he had been 100 percent, it wouldn't have mattered because Smith's execution was so bad that he finished with a quarterback rating of 8.3.
"What was seen on the football field wasn't a great performance, and the outcome showed it," Holmes said.
In the second half, Simms completed 9 of 18 passes for 79 yards, led a field-goal drive and threw an end-zone interception moments after receiver David Nelson dropped a potential TD pass. "He's ready to go when his number is called," Holmes said of Simms. "He's going to continue being our backup and eventually be our leader if he's called upon."
Given the sharp downward progression of Smith's ability to execute, that might be as soon as Sunday against Oakland.
Tight end Kellen Winslow Jr., who questioned why he was used sparingly despite catching all three passes thrown to him, said for the second time this season that the Jets' play mirrors their practice.
"Whatever happens in practice usually happens in a game," Winslow said. "In our case, that's what's been going on."
Early in the first half, Nelson was wide open at the Miami 40-yard line for a potential 30-yard gain. Smith's pass sailed far over his head and out of bounds.
"It's just a feeling of a missed opportunity," said Nelson, who led the Jets with 37 receiving yards on three catches. "This is the National Football League. You don't get many opportunities like that. You never want to walk away and say, 'Man, if we just completed that one pass.' It's a momentum-shifter."
By the same token, Nelson was the problem on a slant from the Miami 20 that he dropped inside the 10 with room to run. "Yes," Nelson said, "that was a touchdown."
Nelson said the game plan put the receivers in position to make plays, but they weren't made.
"From the receivers' standpoint, we were getting open, and guys were doing a good job," he said. "I don't pretend to know what's going on at other positions. All we can control is what we can control. I'm not putting the blame on anybody by any means."