The Jets missing the playoffs took a few days to sink in, but now that there’s plenty else to distract me – the Knicks stinking, college basketball picking up, the NFL draft on the horizon, the NBA – I’m not too dejected about not having my favorite sports team in the postseason.
I’ll roll this lambasting of Santonio Holmes into my postmortem on their 2011 season:
Santonio Holmes: He ended the season like an assclown. A front-running, quitting, jerk. The fact that Wayne Hunter – quite possibly the worst offseason lineman in the NFL this year, if the Pro Football Focus stats are accurate – had to chew out Holmes in the huddle against Miami is mind-boggling. That being said, there’s zero chance the Jets cut or trade Holmes. Not happening. Quit wasting any time even discussing it. End of story. He’ll come back next season under a new offensive coordinator and thrive. Hopefully. I’m 100% confident he’ll be back; 85% sure Holmes will thrive.
Brian Schottenheimer, Offensive Coordinator: Please get him out of town. Please. Anyone who watched four minutes of football this season knows that Schottenheimer has zero chance of getting a head coaching job this year. So the Jets will just have to eat his contract and let him go, and look foolish for giving him the vote of confidence this week. Fundamentally, I don’t think Schottenheimer knew what the Jets should have been this year. For reasons unknown, he wanted to throw a lot, but why would you do that with no line and new, inferior WRs to the group from 2010? His play-calling was atrocious. Blaine Gabbert is probably begging the Jags not to hire him.
UFAs: The Jets are likely to lose a lot of stalwarts from the last two seasons – Bryan Thomas (goner), Tomlinson (retire), Brodney Pool (he’s terrible), Donald Strickland (like No. 5 corner) and Plaxico (hope he doesn’t return). The interesting player decision will be on tiny Jim Leonhard, who has been injured late each of the last two years, can’t defend tight ends, but is sure-handed on punts … and with Eric Smith and Brodney Pool both leaving, can you really lose your top three safeties? Leonard came over from Baltimore with Rex Ryan, so I assume he’ll be back.
Mike Tanenbaum, GM: He had a horrible season, something glossed over in the mainstream media because, well, you know … it’s easily to slam the under-performing QB or the mouthy coach. I said in the preseason that his moves were terrible, but I had no clue he’d be so useless in-season. Yes, it looks like he made the right decision with McKnight over Woodhead (that wasn’t the case in 2010), but his 2010 1st round draft pick Kyle Wilson hasn’t looked like a future starter.
Mark Sanchez, QB: His best season in many categories, but he was terrible late in the season against the Giants (three turnovers) and Dolphins (three INTs). Worst of all, he looked rattled all season – it started after that Baltimore debacle, when he was running for his life all night. He had happy feet in the pocket that was always collapsing around him. (Theory: He didn’t handle the WR egos well. Holmes and Plax both wanted the ball a lot more than they got it.) The offensive line did him no favors (sacked 39 times, which is 12 more than last year). He had eight fumbles lost; he lost one last year. That being said, it’s highly unlikely they move him. This Peyton Manning stuff is pure conjecture at this point. Sanchez is owed $8.5 million next year, and there’s zero chance they keep him and sign Manning. Remember, the owner is cheap. As I said after the Denver loss: Get a new OC, give Sanchez a year to improve, then make a decision.
Rex Ryan: Question I’ve gotten plenty on twitter – Did Rex lose the locker room? No. I think he did realize he can’t walk on water when it comes to turning around problem children. How did he not know Holmes was such a cancer this season? Was he overconfident? I think so. Hopefully, the early success didn’t go to his head. I think the terrible ending to this season will ultimately be a good thing (and not just because it means they’ll get a new OC). Humility was necessary.
Aaron Maybin developed into a nice pass rusher (6 sacks in 13 games). Nice move by Tanenbaum.
I can’t wait for Jeff Cumberland to be healthy next year so the Jets can run 2 TE sets (season-ending injury in the preseason).
Rookies Jeremy Kerley and Muhammad Wilkerson (3 sacks) will be starters next year.
Joe McKnight was impressive as a kick returner: 31.6 per return.
Safety – I think Alabama’s Mark Barron is an ideal 1st round target.
Right tackle: Wayne Hunter was abysmal. If there’s a great right tackle around at 16, perhaps you pull the trigger and make Hunter a reserve. Very curious to see what OL there are on the free agent market.
Running back: LT likely retires. McKnight doesn’t seem like a No. 2 back, as he’s fumble-prone and a bit fragile. Greene will be in his walk year, so naturally he’ll bust out and have a monster year seeking a contract. But with the Jets’ 2nd round pick, I think they should consider RB – Chris Polk of Washington and Doug Martin of Boise State come to mind, though both could already be off the board in what will be a strong RB draft.