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Muhammad Wilkerson: 'This is not Jets football'

Muhammad Wilkerson sacks Buffalo Bills quarterback EJ Manuel

Muhammad Wilkerson sacks Buffalo Bills quarterback EJ Manuel during the first half. (Sept. 22, 2013) Credit: Lee S. Weissman

Muhammad Wilkerson reluctantly held court, speaking for defensive teammates who wouldn't Sunday.

"We're at the stretch, we're at the end," he said of the state of the 5-7 Jets, following their 23-3 loss. "We've got to play better. That's it. This is not Jets football."

But the truth is, their third straight loss is indicative of who the Jets truly are: a team without a firm grasp of its quarterback situation, a lack of offensive talent and a wildly inconsistent defense.

When questioned this week about the struggles of his offense (currently ranked 30th overall), Rex Ryan quickly pointed out that "statistics sometimes don't tell the whole story." However, the Jets coach often touts the strength of his formidable front seven, which is No. 1 against the run (77 yards).

The defense Ryan had hoped would be in the top five by season's end is currently 12th overall and surrendering an average of 256.8 passing yards at a time when most NFL offenses are predicated on the passing game.

Ryan is fond of emphasizing the importance of playing "like a Jet." But offensive inconsistency, erratic quarterback play and poor tackling were issues well before 2013. Since reaching back-to-back AFC title games in 2009 and '10, the Jets have been consistent at one thing: not making the postseason. And they stand to miss out on the playoffs for a third straight season after Sunday's debacle against the Dolphins (6-6).

"The runs and completions battle . . . Field position, you name it, they dominated the game," Ryan said of Miami, which entered the game in a six-way tie (along with the Jets) for the final AFC wild-card spot.

Now the Jets' playoff hopes are slim at best and they'll once again have to hope for outside help.

"I don't think anybody's in the business of giving up, or just saying 'we blew it, let's go home,' " right guard Willie Colon said Monday. "I think we're a lot more strong a team than that. We just got to prove it . . . We've just got to play better football. It's ugly right now."

Coming out of their Week 10 bye, the then 5-4 Jets stressed the importance of kicking off the second half of the season with a "W." But instead of winning back-to-back games for the first time -- following their surprising Week 9 win over the Saints -- Rex & Co. were embarrassed, 37-14, at Buffalo. Similar win-now refrains were echoed in the locker room prior to their game with the defending Super Bowl champion Ravens. But the result was the same.

And with their playoff hopes hanging in the balance Sunday, the Jets set out to take control of their destiny against the Dolphins. But somewhere between the locker room and the MetLife Stadium field, the Jets misplaced their sense of urgency.

Nevertheless, Kellen Winslow Jr. predicted afterward: "We'll go down swinging . . . It's not like the season's over. It might be recordwise, but it's still football. We still love the game. We'll go play hard."

The veteran tight end said his confidence stems from the "character" of the team. "I just know the guys, their heart," he said.

But Colon realizes he and his teammate now sound like broken records.

"It's the record we keep putting on," he said. "That's the reality of it. We're doing this to ourselves."

New York Sports