In any Greek tragedy, the hero is capable of extraordinary accomplishments and acts of daring bravery. But there is always the proverbial Achilles’ heel — that flaw that can drag the hero to zero. For Santonio Holmes, he is both the reason for his rise and his downfall.
The Jets, a team coming off consecutive AFC Championship Games, were certainly prone to extreme highs and lows. Sunday’s 19-17 loss at the Dolphins to close out a disappointing 8-8 season certainly underscored the tale of two teams.
Needing a win to keep their slim playoff hopes alive, head coach Rex Ryan’s team played flat. It was bad enough that the Jets looked disinterested and disjointed, but what made matters worse was that they went down bickering and fighting.
It got so bad that in the fourth quarter wide receiver Santonio Holmes reportedly picked two fights in the offensive huddle and was benched. The Jets’ $45 million man was ranting, raving and pushing on the field, exhibiting the same signs of immaturity and selfishness that made him expendable in Pittsburgh.
A game breaker who during happier moments last year was nicknamed “Tone Time” for his penchant for late-game, clutch performances, Holmes has been a disappointment since being re-signed in August. He celebrated his long-term contract that day by downing a bottle of Cristal shirtless and posting the photo on Twitter.
Just a handful of days later, he was named a team captain by Ryan.
From this season, it is clear that Holmes isn’t the marquee performer the Jets envisioned when they handed him oodles of money and a five-year deal. Not only did he have the lowest number of receiving yards for his career, Holmes mentally checked out of games where he wasn’t getting fed the ball enough. Coming into Sunday’s game, just 18 of his 51 catches came in the second half.
And the temper tantrums, including reportedly going above offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer’s head in mid-October to demand more of the ball, doesn’t exactly exhibit the signs of leadership one would expect to see from a captain. He threw his quarterback under the bus on more than one occasion and pouted his way through the season. Oh captain, my captain.
Veteran running back LaDainian Tomlinson said that his teammates in the huddle felt Holmes had quit on them by the fourth quarter.
“Well, I’ll tell you what. It’s tough for guys to follow a captain that kind of behaves in that manner. You a captain, guys looking at you. You got to lead by example,” Tomlinson said. “You got to play your tail off until the last play. And when that doesn’t happen, you will have guys look at you in the way that captains shouldn’t be looked at. You should always put yourself out there as a leader.”
It is bad enough that a player who is fifth highest on the team’s salary cap isn’t helping win games, but now he’s contributing to their losses as well. The Jets took a gamble on Holmes, knowing he was a huge liability. They rode with him through a four-game suspension to start last season with the hopes that he would emerge a more mature, balanced player. That he would grow into a man. His bloated contract was proof-positive of their faith that he had turned a corner.
Instead, he turned his back on them.
He showed on Sunday he is still every bit the child who burned bridges in Pittsburgh. The clock has struck midnight on the future of “Tone Time” with the Jets.
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.