How could the tanking New York Jets stun the surging Miami Dolphins?

 Jay Cutler of the Miami Dolphins is sacked by David Bass and Dylan Donahue of the New York Jets. Sacked by who? Exactly. This was bad. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Adam Gase slammed the gum in his mouth into a plastic garbage can and then annoyingly tossed aside some plastic recovery shake before starting his brief post-game news conference.

This one is going to take some time to recover from.

The Jets slammed the Dolphins 20-6 at MetLife Stadium, which is difficult to swallow for many reasons, notably that this New York roster was designed to fail.

Many of the Jets fans here, and perhaps even club executives, were hoping for a competitive game, but a close loss, and thus an increased chance at one of the top three quarterbacks in the next NFL Draft.

“They just beat the s— out of us,” Gase began. “That’s the best way to put it.”

It turned out s— was the word of the day for the Miami Dolphins.

Wasn’t this Jets defense supposed to be terrible?

“Hell no,” Dolphins guard Jermon Bushrod said. “It’s the Jets, man. They’re tough up front. They have good linebackers. They are physical as s— in the back. We just didn’t match that intensity.”

Added Dolphins tackle Laremy Tunsil: “We practiced sh—- all week.”

You’ve worked through a lot of hyphens. But they address some important points.

Much of the hullabaloo leading into Jets-Dolphins was about how the players might respond to President Donald Trump’s comments about how players who protest perceived injustices should be fired.

But much of the hullabaloo in the wake of this game will be about why the Dolphins weren’t better prepared.

The consensus among the Dolphins who spoke after this embarrassing loss was that their decision to protest Trump’s remarks with interlocking arms and kneeling before the game was not a factor.

What was?

• “We didn’t play physical,” Gase concluded.

• “We were always tired,” Tunsil concluded, citing an extended trip to the Los Angeles area and what he viewed as poor practices.

• Even if subliminally, all the talk about the woeful Jets tanking seems to have led to some overconfidence.

The Dolphins need to get this right, and quick, because the Saints are no pushover and they face them next Sunday not in Miami, but in London — yet a third time zone for Tunsil and teammates to overcome in the span of three weeks.

Let’s address these key issues, one by one.

Is it unfair that a hurricane postponed Miami’s first game and displaced the team to California? Is it unfair that the league wouldn’t allow the London game to be moved to South Florida?

Perhaps, but…

“I mean on one side you’d say that’s fair, on the other side you’d say that’s the NFL, you’ve just got to go deal with it,” veteran quarterback Jay Cutler said. “You know we’re not going to make excuses. We felt prepared going into this game. We just laid an egg.”

Gase was even less forgiving.

“All I know is we’re going to line up on Sunday and play,” he said. “So if somebody has an issue with that, they better check their profession.”

Gase was extremely frustrated and it’s easy to understand why. It didn’t seem his team was ready to play. And the team couldn’t get anything going on offense, as he called the plays.

Two hours into the game, the Dolphins had three first downs and had punted on all seven possessions.

On the verge of an eighth punt, Gase opted for a desperate fake, which didn’t stand a chance.

“Trying to get something going,” Gase said. “We figured maybe we could complete a ball on the punt team.”

Cutler struggled. He was not sharp. He was not effective.

But Miami’s inability to get anything going in the running game was disastrous, too.

“You watched the game,” Gase said. “(Ajayi) wasn’t going to get through anything. Guys were in the backfield so fast.”

Which brings us to Ajayi, who gained 16 yards on 11 carries (1.5 yards per try).

While some players downplayed the notion Miami should have had a better week of practice, Ajayi concurred.

“Intensity, physicality,” Ajayi said. “We know how to practice and we didn’t do it this week.”

As many things as have gone wrong for the Dolphins since last season ended — injuries to Ryan Tannehill, Raewkwon McMillan, Tony Lippett and Ted Larsen, the disappearance of Lawrence Timmons, a hurricane that struck South Florida, and on and on — the Dolphins it seemed, were actually riding a wave of positivity.

The Dolphins had won 10 of their previous 12 regular-season games and all the talk was about how they now expected to win. But that may be a part of the reason why they lost on Sunday, and so badly.

Miami isn’t talented enough, and all observers know this, to just show up and win.

The Dolphins team that exceeded expectations last season did it through hard work and relentless commitment in practice and in games.

Even Cutler, who has been a Dolphin for seven weeks, knows that.

“That game is a wakeup call for us,” Cutler said. “We can’t just roll it out there and expect it to happen.”

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