EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The New York Jets' starting quarterback is uncertain, and their playoff hopes are fading.
It looks as though they're in for a rough final four games.
Geno Smith was benched in favor of Matt Simms to start the second half of the Jets' 23-3 loss to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, sending New York's shaky quarterback situation into a mess of uncertainty.
"We'll take a look at the tape and we'll evaluate it at the appropriate time," Jets coach Rex Ryan said. "Obviously, I can't tell you who's starting. It's safe to say we will put the guys in who we think will give us the best opportunity to be successful. I think that's the way it always is, and that's the way it'll be moving forward. I can't answer that question, though, right now.
"We need to see it and get everybody's opinion and do what we think is in the best interest of our team."
Smith had a brutal first half, going 4 for 10 for 29 yards with an interception and an 8.3 quarterback rating as the Jets (5-7) trailed 6-0. Smith, who has one touchdown and 11 interceptions in his last seven games, overthrew receivers a few times and couldn't get the offense moving.
"I've got to look at myself in the mirror and figure out ways to get better," Smith said. "It seems like I say this every week, but there's always a way to get better and I've got plenty of room to improve, so I've just got to continue to plug at it and got to keep working."
Simms, the son of former Giants star Phil Simms, jogged in to loud cheers from the MetLife Stadium crowd as the Jets opened the third quarter after Ryan and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg converged on him in the locker room at halftime.
"They just told me to be ready," Simms said. "Rex came up to me and said, 'Are you ready to go? Do you know the game plan? Are you good to go?'
"I said, 'Yes sir, I'm ready to go.' That was it."
Smith acknowledged that the benching stung.
"It's tough to not be out there with my guys fighting, no matter what the score is," Smith said. "But, you've got to suck it up and be a man about it. That's what I try to do my best to do."
The move took Dolphins defensive end Olivier Vernon by surprise.
"I didn't think they would do it like that, but we knew that we were getting in their heads," he said. "It worked in our favor. We knew we were doing something right."
The quarterback change did nothing to alter the game's momentum as the Jets lost their third straight and looked every bit like a bunch that needs to start thinking about next season.
"It was an awful performance by us," Ryan said.
On the other side, Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins played like a team trying to keep its playoff hopes alive.
Tannehill threw for 331 yards and two touchdowns as the Dolphins kept pace in the AFC postseason picture. Brian Hartline and Mike Wallace caught touchdown passes for Miami (6-6), which converted two turnovers into 10 points.
"It was big," Hartline said. "You go the opposite way and you fall to 5-7 and it's pretty slim pickins the rest of the year."
Tannehill finished 28 of 43 with an interception as the Dolphins took control in the second half after dominating the stats sheet in the first two quarters.
Philip Wheeler recovered a fumble by Simms on the Jets' second possession of the third quarter, and the Dolphins took quick advantage with a 31-yard catch-and-run by Hartline.
Nick Folk finally got the Jets on the scoreboard with a 20-yard field goal with 4:30 left in the third quarter. But, New York's momentum was quickly squashed as Wallace caught a short pass from Tannehill and ran through a poor tackle try by Dee Milliner and zipped into the end zone for a 28-yard touchdown and a 20-3 lead with just over a minute left in the third quarter — and sending many Jets fans heading for the exits early.
The Dolphins dominated on offense during the first two quarters in every statistic, outgaining the Jets 265 yards to 39 with 16 first downs compared to New York's 2. Miami also held the ball for 24 minutes, 12 seconds, with New York having it for just 5:43.
The Dolphins ran more plays (50) in the first half than the Jets had total yards. Miami finished by outgaining New York 453-177.
"We're not making enough plays across the board," tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. said. "That's pretty much it."
NOTES: Jets KR-WR Josh Cribbs left in the second quarter with a shoulder injury and didn't return. ... Jets WR Santonio Holmes was active after not practicing all week with a hamstring issue, but saw few snaps and had no catches. "It was a coaches' decision," Holmes said. Ryan said the team was trying to "pace" Holmes.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org