I just finished up Collision Low Crossers by Nicholas Dawidoff, which I highly recommend for any New York Jets fan. Dawidoff spent the entire 2011 season with the team, predominantly with the defensive coaching staff. This book provides unparalleled access and a unique perspective since the author is not a sportswriter and came in with limited knowledge of football. Here are a few observations but again, go read it yourself…
1. This book makes you like Rex Ryan more as a person and less as a NFL head coach. Rex comes off as a genuine, caring individual who is nearly impossible not to root for. He also comes off as a defensive savant with a natural ability to scheme against NFL offenses. However, it is clear that Rex struggled in dealing with his own team’s offense. He admittedly lacks a feel for dealing with that side of the football and basically let Brian Schottenheimer be his own Head Coach for the offense. Rex was also too tentative to step in and input his opinion to his coordinators and positional coaches. It comes from a good place of not wanting to step on people’s toes but in reality as the Head Coach, you need to be more assertive than he comes off as in the book.
Rex’s loyalty is also a gift and curse. Loyalty is always an admirable trait but there isn’t always room for it when it comes to being a Head Coach. Rex kept an under-qualified and slacking best friend on staff (Jeff Weeks) which drew the ire of other coaches. Most embarrassingly, Rex trumped the scouting department and forced the selection of WR Scotty McKnight with a 7th round pick because of a joke he made with Mark Sanchez.
You can see some of the seeds of the Jets recent struggles planted in this book. Remember this team is 12-20 since week 14 of the 2011 season.
2. Similar to Ryan, Mark Sanchez comes off as a good guy, who would be fun to hang out with but as a player, does not come off as somebody who is built to be a franchise quarterback…at all. Generally, he seems too immature and unfocused. Beyond that, the Jets offense repeatedly has awful practices which he has to take some of the blame for. The locker room and coaching staff (outside of maybe Rex) also clearly lacked faith in him.
3. There was a very clear divide between the Jets offense and defense in 2011. They were basically two separate warring teams. There was also major ongoing issues between Santonio Holmes and the offensive line, stemming from Holmes calling them out to the media after the week 4 loss to the Ravens.
4. Holmes comes off poorly in the book to an extent. He seems like a player who is understandably frustrated by the offense around him but handles it an awful way, especially since he was named a team captain (a move scoffed at by most of the team…poor choice Rex). Plaxico Burress and Derrick Mason come off even worse. What a nightmare the Jets assembled at wide receiver that season. Burress was selfish and lazy, refusing to clap his hands when he left the huddle on running plays and not interacting with teammates, outside of Holmes. Mason repeatedly clashed with Schottenheimer before being traded away.
5. Antonio Cromartie doesn’t come off very well either. He is a hard working player but immensely erratic on and off the field.
6. You further understand why Darrelle Revis is going to be a first ballot Hall of Famer and will become depressed he isn’t on the team anymore.
7. Some 2011 draft tidbits:
- If the Jets didn’t land Muhammad Wilkerson in the first round, they were contemplating trading back for Titus Young or Jaiquawn Jarrett in round 2. Yikes.
- The Jets wanted to either target Jeremy Kerley or Jerrel Jernigan as Jerricho Cotchery’s replacement. They picked right!
- Mike Tannenbaum was frustrated by Kenrick Ellis’ lack of playing time in his rookie season.
8. We’ve been relatively critical of Joe McKnight on this site and now feel bad since many of his struggles were due to debilitating insomnia that began after the traumas he suffered from Hurricane Katrina. It isn’t easy to learn a playbook or practice if you aren’t sleeping at all.