Florham Park, N.J.– The prevailing theme at Jets practice facility today is that a lack of unity, accountability and chemistry is what derailed this year’s Jets team with with a bang. Whether it was the coach, the GM or the players they all said something along the lines of everyone needs to stop being a group of talented individuals and get back to being a team.
“Well first we need to get everybody on the same page, buying in (and) believing. Not questioning the decisions made, not questioning the play-calling, we need to buy in to what our coaches are coaching us and trust the people guiding us, that they’re making the right decisions and that’s the start.” Matt Slauson said, “And then we need to be able to have an offseason where we can cultivate relationships, be together, work together, lift together. All of that builds, builds the team.”
“Honestly it’s from an individual stand point. I think every man has to take on the responsibility, like this is our livelihood, this is what we do, this is where we come in and this is how we make our money. I think every man has to just look at themselves, I mean I got to look at myself also.” Antonio Cromartie said, “I was inconsistent throughout the first half of the season and I think for me it was to come out and just make sure I improved every single week throughout the season and that’s something every man has to come in and do, just take responsibility and just come in and do what they need to do. Be accountable for every man that’s in there, football is a team sport because you have to depend on somebody else to make sure that they’re doing their job. So I think every man needs to be accountable for themselves and their teammates.”
It was a surreal scene as the reporters gathered in the locker room this morning, the majority of the lockers completely empty and not a single player in sight. After awhile players slowly started trickling in, but some had no interest in talking. Bart Scott who had obviously heard (and believed) the reports that he will be cut tried to leave the locker room without talking but as he was being chased down on his way out by photographers he extended one of his fingers and said, “take a picture of this.” Scott is known as a big talker, but it’s almost always friendly banter, this had all the signs of him saying “I’m out of here, I don’t need to play nice with you guys anymore.”
Kyle Wilson was the first player who plays significant minutes to step into the lion’s den and as he was talking a clearly aggravated Darrelle Revis snuck in only to say, “Leave me alone, leave me alone.” And said he wouldn’t be talking. It was shocking to see from Revis, who is always willing to talk, but one can understand his frustration and him not wanting to say something out of anger that he would regret later on.
Other players started to filter in afterwards to face the music, Slauson, Cromartie, Brodney Pool, Joe McKnight, Jim Leonhard, Aaron Maybin, Sione Pouha, Brandon Moore all stood there to take the questions from the media and the focus of their comments were about the tension issues that have been bubbling under the surface for weeks, only to explode in the final weeks.
“(We) lost to Oakland, game we should have won.” Joe McKnight said, “Lost to Miami, a game we should’ve won. Chemistry wasn’t there, we weren’t playing as a team.”
So now the question becomes when did this happen, was it a problem since training camp? “No I didn’t get that in the beginning of the season, but as the season went on we started to get the sense that the chemistry wasn’t there.” McKnight said, though he declined to speculate about when the problems started to surface.
“We should be better than that (8-8). You know, that’s real easy to say because we’re not there.” Matt Slauson said, “So we did get what we deserved because we didn’t come together, we didn’t execute. We can produce a lot better than that and we will. We’re going to improve and we’ll get better and we’ll become a better team.”
Holmes is the lightning rod on the chemistry issues, but it’s about more than him. Holmes has been slandered by some of his teammates who called him, “a cancer,” and compared him to a “10 year old,” and Ryan admitted he made a mistake naming Holmes a team captain, but he didn’t limit that mistake to just Holmes.
“To be honest with you this is something that I think I made a huge mistake with, not just by naming Santonio a captain but all the captain things.” Ryan said, “It’s not something I truly believed in, I mentioned that to you in the beginning of the year, but I put that thing on there and this is not a reflection of anybody in particular, but we’re not going to have those any more. The way we built this team is we built a team and I think it (naming captains) pulled away from the team a little bit. It may work for other franchises but it doesn’t work for me.”
While no one player would come out and say it, it’s clear the issue started with some players questioning Brian Schottenheimer and his play-calling. Schottenheimer has been made the scapegoat by fans and media alike for years now, but despite the splintering that has been caused by his and Holmes strained relationship the Jets aren’t in a rush to make a move on either front immediately, but regardless of the votes of confidence a change will certainly have to be made.
“We do expect Brian Schottenheimer back, we’ve been with him now for six years, and we really respect the job he’s done.” Mike Tannenbaum said.
Tannenbaum went on to confirm that Schottenheimer has been granted an interview by the Jacksonville Jaguars for their vacant head coaching position, if Schottenheimer gets the job the Jets are off the hook from actually having to make a decision on his future. If he doesn’t get the job they would then have to decide if they want to stick with Schottenheimer or fire him and eat the remaining money on his contract. Since the season officially ended yesterday afternoon there has been a lot of talk about specific changes that will be made and regardless of if Schottenheimer is promoted or fired it’s hard to imagine a possibility where he isn’t a part of the change everyone is talking about.
“I’ll say this, I hope Brian the best of luck as he goes for the interview in Jacksonville.” Rex Ryan said, “I mentioned it to you last week that I think it’s probably a 50-50 deal whether Brian is back here or not because I think he’ll be a head coach.”
When Ryan was asked how they could possibly consider bringing Santonio Holmes back after what took place this year, Ryan cautioned not to dismiss all the good he has done in his time here and indicated that they don’t seem to be thinking of jettisoning the talented but sometimes troublesome receiver. The Jets will likely explore their options with trading Holmes but will probably have a hard time finding any trading partners with the expensive contract they signed him to last offseason and the cap hit they would take by cutting him will likely be too big to allow them to do anything about that, which would be another sign that one way or another Schottenheimer won’t be returning.
No one can be delusional enough to think they could kiss and make up and cruise through next season without anymore turmoil, can they?
While the talk was about the chemistry problems that plagued this team, no one should think it was a chemistry issue alone. Chemistry had nothing to do with why the safeties couldn’t stop any tight ends, or the defense still lacked a consistent pass rush. This team needs to get more talented and add more depth, but they must do so carefully because the last two seasons this team really did feel like a family, while this season felt like we were all watching an ugly divorce play out in front of our very eyes.
Keep an eye out here at Jetsinsider.com over the next few days we will have a lot more great quotes from today and a lot more about where the Jets need to go from here.
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