The Jets' 2011 season ended with disappointment, and the relationship between quarterback Mark Sanchez and top receiver Santonio Holmes under the microscope.
With the 2012 season just around the corner, Holmes continues to reiterate that he and Sanchez have a good relationship -- and added that the success of this season depends on it.
"Right now we are a group of guys, myself and him," Holmes said this week on an NFL.com podcast. "And I say a group of guys because this season is going to rely on how well Santonio Holmes and Mark Sanchez work together on the field this year."
The lasting image of 2011, of course, is the New Year's Day meltdown at Miami, in which Holmes did not have any catches and was benched for the final minutes of the game by former offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. Holmes said every veteran receiver he has spoken with since gave him the same advice: "Put that thing behind you."
“One day you have a fight; the next day, you make up,” Holmes said. “That’s pretty much how things went with our season for the Jets last year and for myself and Sanchez. We just had one day where we just didn’t agree with the way the offense was working for that week."
He added: "As a veteran receiver and a young quarterback, you patch that thing up the next day, and that’s what we did. The next day, when we flew back, we patched it up and it was done, but the media insists that it will continue to drag on and drag on for their sake, which has nothing to do with the way we feel about each other then and even now.”
Holmes and Sanchez in fact met a few weeks after the season ended, down in Florida where Holmes trains, to talk things over. The rift between the two was well-documented during the season's post-mortem by several members of the organization, including future Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson.
Holmes criticized the media for producing negative press in order to drive ratings and readership. He campaigned for positive articles.
"If you guys want to be, and this is for the New York media, if you guys want to be a part of our team and want to feel so important, be there to support us, not to try to break us down,” Holmes said. “Because (there’s) not one day that we all step in that locker room and we try to break each other down, that we talk bad about the way that person played because it affects the team the way one person plays if they don’t play to perfection.
“So, if the New York media wants to be a part of our team and wants to continue writing about us, write positive things. Stay away from the negative, because it doesn’t do anything good for our team that you want to report all the negative things that happen and that’s all you want to talk to us players about. We live for one thing and that’s to play football and not to entertain you people in the media.”
Holmes also weighed in on new back-up quarterback Tim Tebow, and the role he'll play for the team. In another appearance with NFL Network this week, Holmes said he doesn't believe a two-quarterback system can work in the NFL.
“It’s been very interesting to see the style that he brings to the team and to understand what our offensive coordinator has (planned) for him," Holmes said. “But as a football player and a teammate of his, we want to see him succeed by playing his role in helping the team win ball games. We’re not going to ask for Tim Tebow to get out there and run the ball 60 times in a game or throw it 25 times. We’re going to ask for Tim Tebow to accept his plays and his role on this team, score touchdowns, make first downs, help our team keep drives alive and win ball games.”