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When reports first surfaced about there being a possible rift in the Jets locker room, the Jets organization was quick to downplay it. The report stated that the Jets’ three big-name wide receivers, Santonio Holmes, Plaxico Burress, and Derrick Mason went to Rex Ryan to complain about offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimers’ play calling.
The Jets issued a statement 90 minutes before their game last weekend against the New England Patriots, saying the report wasn’t true and that the meeting never took place. After the game this week, all three receivers and Ryan all denied the report.
Derrick Mason has since been traded to Houston due to ‘lack of performance’, though many speculate Mason’s critical post-game comments lead to his benching during the New England game and his eventual trade. This move wasn’t popular among the receiving core and served as somewhat of a wake-up call to the rest of the Jets team, a call that Holmes clearly didn’t answer.
Santonio Holmes repeated his criticism of the offensive line. “I may be criticized again for saying it, but it starts up front,” Holmes said Thursday. “The big guys know it. If they give Mark enough time to sit in the pocket and complete passes, I think everything changes.”
While this may be a true statement, it’s not what the Jets need. Holmes, clearly frustrated after the poor and very conservative play calling against the worst ranked defense in the league, said, “The numbers speak for themselves,” he said, adding, “If you were in my shoes, what would you think?”
Guard Brandon Moore fired back on Friday. “He’s obviously got the green light to evaluate every position on the team,” Moore said. “I just didn’t think captaincy entailed that. I’ve never seen a captain do that. That’s not leading. That’s not being a leader. It actually fragments the locker room. It’s not productive.”
The offensive line is clearly ticked off and this couldn’t come at a worse time for the Jets who are in the midst of a three game losing streak. The fact that Moore said anything back, especially something critical, shows the state of the locker room. Moore is regarded as a quiet leader and is the longest tenured offensive lineman.
Schottenheimer, who’s been under a ton of scrutiny from the fans, media, and some players alike, downplayed the situation between Holmes and Moore. “The team is a family and families have disagreements.” He said the offense has “a great relationship,” expressing confidence that the players will resolve their differences.
Schottenheimer has plans to address this issue with the entire offensive unit. “Absolutely,” he said. “Whether it’s done in public or whether it’s done in private, these are things we’ll keep in-house. But this group will be ready to go Monday night, I have no questions about that.”
He’d better hope they’re ready as his job may be riding on it. While this could just be the product of a frustrated team in a tough spot, it could prove either a breaking point or the season turn-around for the team.
While Holmes is right about the play of the offensive line, going public isn’t something a leader should do. He’s never been one to shy away from speaking his mind and this is one of the reasons why the Steelers were willing to trade him for such a low cost, a fifth round draft pick. One thing is for sure, if the Jets lose to the winless Dolphins and Matt Moore on Monday night, this will be just the beginning of the team’s problems.
The Jets are on a tailspin right now, but with problems like this brewing in the locker room, they could very well be in route to crash and burn. A season that started with Super Bowl aspirations could end with a team divided and a fan base left believing that these are in fact the ‘same old Jets.’
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