Saying the Miami Dolphins stumbled on their way to the finish line is too kind. This is a team that fell flat on its face, capped by a 20-7 home loss in Sunday's finale against the New York Jets. The Dolphins will miss the playoffs for the fifth consecutive season.
Here's what else we learned:
1. A dramatic win over the New England Patriots had the Dolphins at 8-6 and in the driver's seat for the sixth seed in the AFC. They followed that with back-to-back losses to the Buffalo Bills and Jets by a combined score of 39-7. Ack. It's a collapse that puts the future of both coach Joe Philbin and general manager Jeff Ireland in doubt.
2. Jets owner Woody Johnson announced shortly after the game that Rex Ryan would return as the Jets' coach in 2014. It completes a fairly remarkable comeback for the coach, who was widely believed to be a dead man walking back in August. It's absolutely the right move, too. Ryan got eight wins out of a team with no above-average skill players and a rookie quarterback who threw 21 interceptions. Johnson was wise to act quickly and end any further speculation.
3. Ryan Tannehill's stock took a major hit in these past two weeks. He was dreadful Sunday, struggling with his accuracy and throwing three interceptions. Tannehill has all the tools to be a good NFL quarterback, but he missed an opportunity to take a big step forward in Year 2.
4. You knew it was the Jets' day when they were hitting on big plays out of the Wildcat. Bilal Powell's pretty halfback option toss to Jeff Cumberland set up the game-icing field goal in the fourth quarter showed the difference between the two teams Sunday. The Jets played loose. The Dolphins played tight. The outcome reflected that.
5. The biggest play of the game came midway through the second quarter. Mike Wallace got two steps beyond Dee Milliner, but was overshot by Tannehill. Instead of an 80-yard touchdown and a 14-0 lead, the Dolphins punted the ball back to the Jets, who scored a touchdown of their own. The game was tied at 7. The tide had turned.The "Around The League Podcast" is now available on iTunes! Click here to listen and subscribe.