There was a brisk exit from Santonio Holmes, who entered and left the locker room without a word of comment to the media, a box of items from his locker in tow as he left the Jets facility. Bart Scott, the Jets mouthpiece of the past three years and fan favorite was last seen giving the finger to cameramen snapping photos saying “Why don’t you take a picture of this.” Plaxico Burress was absent and Mark Sanchez spoke in his usual clichés.
In other words, it was a fairly typical day in the land of the Jets.
Now 8-8, the Jets went from Super Bowl contenders in August to five months later being out of the playoffs as one of the biggest busts the NFL has seen in a long time. A team that head coach Rex Ryan said in preseason was the most talented he’s had since he came here in 2009 had no shortage of star power, but lacked any semblance of chemistry.
“The chemistry was the big part. If you can’t come together as a team you can’t win,” running back Joe McKnight said. “We lost in Oakland, a game we should have won. We lost in Miami, a game we should have won. The chemistry wasn’t there, we weren’t playing as a team.
“I didn’t get that in the beginning of the season, but as the season wore on you got the sense the chemistry wasn’t there.”
The season started in promising fashion with a comeback win over Dallas in Week 1 and a blowout win over the Jaguars next week. But then three losses followed and the chinks in the armor began to show. The Jets lost their games in clusters, with two losing streaks of three games and a two-game streak midseason.
It was in these moments the team pointed fingers internally.
The Jets were loath to discuss the incident that perhaps typifies their season in the fourth quarter of their 19-17 loss in Miami. After two altercations in the huddle, star wide receiver Santonio Holmes was benched by offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer after mixing it up with tight end Dustin Keller. Head coach Rex Ryan said after the game that he wasn’t aware of the incident or the benching, which saw Holmes sulk on the sidelines as little used Patrick Turner was inserted into the game.
Running back LaDainian Tomlinson called out Holmes as lacking focus during the game, saying that “there were some guys in the huddle that were unhappy with ‘Tone’s’ demeanor.”
At the point of the benching, the Jets still had a chance to win the game and the other games where the Jets needed results were still being played. In short, Holmes acted selfishly despite being named a captain this preseason. When his team needed him the most, he walked away from the table.
“I’m not one to get involved in the drama. I try to take care of my responsibility; that’s how I’ve always been,” cornerback Donald Strickland told Metro. “I don’t think everyone bought into that this year — being a team player. Being called to do what you’re asked — both sides of the ball, offense and defense. There was some individual play; you can’t win like that.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.