Nine Moments When You Knew This Wasn’t The Jets Season

The nine key moments when you knew 2011 wasn’t the Jets season

It was easy to remain somewhat optimistic all the way to the end of the New York Jets 2011 season. Despite their ongoing struggles, they remained viable playoff contenders all the way until the final minutes of their schedule. Yet, throughout the year there were ongoing moments, where you had to say to yourself “this just isn’t our year.”

1. Oh What A Start – Most people forget the Jets season started with Dallas marching right down the field on their defense and scoring a touchdown as Dez Bryant ripped a fade route away from Antonio Cromartie. Their first play on offense was then DeMarcus Ware ripping past Wayne Hunter and nearly killing Mark Sanchez. We should have known right there this defense would be a disappointment and Hunter would be a disaster.

2. Oakland Meltdown – The Jets were in control against Oakland week 3, up 17-7 and looking like they were headed to a 3-0 record. Yet, what followed was a complete meltdown which showed a mentally weak team that lacked character. Missed tackles. Muffed kicks. And just like that a 3 game losing streak was underway.

3. Accept Losing – The way the Jets locker room treated their week 5 loss to New England should have raised red flags. They sounded all too content to have lost a relatively close game. The confidence that they were better than New England was clearly gone.

4. Brady/Tebow – In retrospect, the Jets season was summed up by their two ugly losses in a four day span to New England and Denver in the middle of the season. There was something particularly soft about the way they went down against Denver that really drove the point home.

5. Pathetic Win – Considering how bad the Buffalo Bills were playing before their week 12 match-up with the Jets, it is was kind of embarrassing that they needed a late drop by Stevie Johnson to preserve a win at home.

6. No Show – How do you no-show in Philadelphia the way the Jets did with a playoff spot on the line? Calvin Pace thanked the Eagles after the game for showing mercy because he admitted the Jets had no chance of stopping them.

7. No Tackle – The Jets were in complete control of their game against the Giants until they failed to tackle Victor Cruz on a 8 yard out route that turned into a 99 yard touchdown. If you had watched this team all season, you knew the game was over after that play…and it was.

8. Bubby Brister – Anytime you throw not one, but two interceptions to a defensive lineman, in a single game…you aren’t a playoff team.

9. Quit – Captain Holmes wanted no part of the Jets come back.

New York Jets Locker Room: We Get It…

Like most stories around the New York Jets, the chemistry issue has been beaten to death

In case you haven’t received the memo yet, the New York Jets locker room was an ugly situation this past season.

We have heard the same story reiterated every three days or so since the season ended. Whether it is a current player, an anonymous player, or an ex-player. Everybody has come out of the woodwork to drive home how completely dysfunctional this organization is.

Does it not feel like the Jets went 2-14 last year?

Their locker has been portrayed as having been such a disaster scene that it is mind blowing to think they actually were 8-8. Could you imagine if Mark Sanchez and Santonio Holmes could move from being 2pac to Biggie to just a couple guys who generally didn’t like each other next year?

The point is that this story, like most surrounding the team, has been beaten to death. Chemistry was a major issue for the 2011 team but there were other problems, notably a lack of talent in certain key spots and questionable coaching.

Plenty will be made out of the Jets going back to Cortland this year as a team building exercise. I am sure Rex Ryan will be talking all the time about he feels the 2012 has improved chemistry and is getting along. You can already see the team motto being “One Team. One Direction” or something like that.

The reality is that unless they improve their safeties and linebackers, they won’t be able to stop New England and won’t win the AFC East. If Mark Sanchez doesn’t improve, along with the protection around him, and his running game, the Jets won’t be a playoff team even if they are having slumber parties and making popcorn together.

(Very) Preliminary Thoughts On New York Jets Off-Season

Some very early thoughts on the New York Jets off-season

At this point of the NFL season, it is still very hard to project exactly what type of direction the eliminated New York Jets will go in during the off-season. There are too many variables at play.

In terms of players, it is easy to throw around names off of free agency lists and throw darts at the board to come up with draft picks but it will take a little more time for real options to come into focus. There will be conflicting reports in the coming months about the Jets cap situation. I find a reliable source to be NYJetsCap.com, which is consistent in painting an accurate picture of where they truly stand.

As of right now, let’s look at what we know about the Jets needs in the off-season –

Offense

Right Tackle/Offensive Line Depth – The Jets depth will receive a boost if they get a healthy Robert Turner back. However, we all know they can’t get through another season with Wayne Hunter at right tackle. Based on the structure of his contract, it would be shocker if he wasn’t released. His play wasn’t up to par this year and cutting him will give the Jets some needed cap space. There are no reliable in house options as a replacement and the list of free agents isn’t particularly impressive. The Jets may be wise to bring in a stop gap veteran and draft a tackle in the second or third round to learn behind him and D’Brickashaw Ferguson. They should also bring other bargain basement free agent to provide additional depth, especially if Turner doesn’t come back.

Wide Receiver – Santonio Holmes isn’t going anywhere. It would be too much of a cap hit. He will be back as the Jets number one receiver and promising second year player Jeremy Kerley will be back as the number three. What the Jets need is a split end who can take some pressure off Holmes and create separation between the 20s, which Plaxico Burress couldn’t do. The exciting names on the market are Marques Colston, Vincent Jackson, Dwayne Bowe, and Brandon Lloyd. I don’t think the Jets will spend that kind of money however. A second tier receiver with potential to grow like Robert Meachem or Laurent Robinson could be a smarter buy, especially if he is paired with a speedy receiver in the fourth or fifth round to develop behind him.

Running Back – I don’t think anybody should be fully confident in a trio of Shonn Greene, Joe McKnight, and Bilal Powell leading the Jets run heavy, Tony Sparano approach. Matt Forte and Maurice Jones-Drew are probably pipe dreams at best but there are some other intriguing veteran options, namely Ryan Grant, Jason Snelling, Tashard Choice, Derrick Ward, and Steve Slaton. I also wouldn’t be shocked if the Jets considered adding Ronnie Brown on a veteran’s minimum deal, with Sparano now heading the offense. Mike Tannenbaum has also drafted four running backs in the past three years, so expect another one.

Quarterback – The Jets need a competent number two to push Mark Sanchez. Chad Henne is the name you will hear the most (outside of Peyton Manning, which I still say has about a 5% chance of happening), but Jason Campbell, Brady Quinn, and Dennis Dixon could be other good veteran options.

Tight End – The Jets will likely use Jeff Cumberland and Josh Baker more after they cut Matthew Mulligan but Tony Sparano may want to bring another blocking option in house.

Defense

Defensive Line – I don’t see the Jets doing much here outside of resigning Sione Pouha. There have been some rumblings about Mike DeVito potentially being cut to save money but I have hard time seeing that happen, considering how well he fits in Rex Ryan’s scheme.

Linebacker – Nobody would argue with Bart Scott or Calvin Pace being cut but the cap hit could be too much to eat. I still wouldn’t be shocked if Scott was cut regardless, but that means the Jets need an inside linebacker along with the outside linebacker they already need. I would expect the Jets first round pick to have a high probability of being an outside linebacker and maybe they can talk Bryan Thomas to coming back on a cheap deal to hold the spot while he develops. Aaron Maybin should be brought back and Jamaal Westerman is on the bubble.

Safety – The Jets probably need two new starting safeties but with all the other previously mentioned needs, how realistic is that? A few early mock drafts have them taking Mark Barron but who knows at this point? If they don’t take an outside linebacker in round one, it will likely be a safety and if they don’t take a safety in round one, they better take one in round two and then another one later in the draft. Have you seen New England’s tight ends lately? Cutting Eric Smith makes sense financially and on the field. Jim Leonhard could come back cheap to provide some veteran stability. LaRon Landry is the most exciting name on the free agent list but he could be too pricey.

New York Jets: The Art Of Exaggeration

There is no middle ground when it comes to discussing the New York Jets

Perhaps the market makes the New York Jets conducive to exceptional amounts of exaggeration surrounding their team. Maybe it is their coach. Their history. The media. Or their fans. Most likely it is a combination of all the above.

Whatever it is, there is no middle ground with this team. They are either world beaters or the sky is falling. You would swear from the conversations this past week that they went 3-13 this past season, not 8-8 and a handful of plays away from a playoff spot.

This season was a disappointment, without question. Yet, everybody is ready with the punchline that Rex Ryan will be on Inside The NFL instead of a NFL sideline by this time next year instead of a sideline as a head coach, when they forget a year ago he was being lauded for completely undressing Bill Belichick in a playoff game.

You have heard it all: Mark Sanchez is a hopeless failure the Jets can’t win with as a starter. By the way, his career record as a starter is 27-20. The defense is old and slow. The offensive line is awful. The receivers can’t get open and are plagued with the cancer of Santonio Holmes. The running backs are average. There is no depth throughout the entire roster.

All of the above concerns are very valid but they are frequently overstated. This isn’t the St. Louis Rams or the Jacksonville Jaguars. There is a quality base of talent on this team and they are a productive off-season away from being one of the AFC’s elite teams, which isn’t saying much these days in a conference that is suddenly watered down and wide open.

How about looking at the 2011 New York Jets like this? They underachieved and despite a toxic locker room, erratic quarterback play and playcalling, along with let-down seasons from about half the starters, they still managed to win 8 games. Imagine a little chemistry comes back to that locker room? Imagine a group of the starters respond with better seasons and the rest who struggled last year are replaced?

The Jets have money to spend this off-season and finally have a draft pick in every single round. They have already made the right choice by letting go of Brian Schottenheimer and bringing in a new offensive staff, led by Tony Sparano. Mike Tannenbaum is in need of a bounce-back year and if he could respond with a solid off-season there is a good chance Rex Ryan will be back to being adored by the same media members who tear him to pieces right now. The criticism of Mark Sanchez will subside and all of the sudden the roster, which still has players like Darrelle Revis, David Harris, Nick Mangold, D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Dustin Keller, and Brandon Moore won’t suddenly be so pathetic and talentless.

Step back from the cliff Jets fans, the Giants and Patriots season will hopefully soon be over and you will have an active off-season to look forward to. This team isn’t rebuilding and is closer to 11-5 than 5-11. And if that can’t cheer you up, remember this was only a year ago…

Nameless Criticism: What To Make Of Mark Sanchez

What to make of the nameless criticism coming from some of Mark Sanchez’s teammates

Mark Sanchez has taken it on the chin from a nameless selection of players in an article full of nameless sources that was somehow allowed to run in a major newspaper. It is an obviously cowardly move to throw somebody under the bus and then not put your name to it. Multiple teammates of Sanchez have since stood up to rebuke the article, most notably Nick Mangold, Dustin Keller, Antonio Cromartie, Matt Slauson, Sione Pouha, and Wayne Hunter. What is there to really make of the this situation?

First off, if I was to take an educated guess, I would say the player who gave these quotes was an individual like Bart Scott. A defensive player, coming off his own subpar year that is likely out the door after this season and knows it. For all we know, the quote could have came from somebody on the practice squad. To say that Sanchez has lost the locker room based on an anonymous source when other prominent players have stepped up to defend him is crazy.

What really hurt the credibility of the source was the assertion that Sanchez is lazy. I have never been inside the Jets locker room or Jets facility. Yet, I have read every word from every person who covers the team since he was drafted and by all accounts Sanchez is arguably the hardest worker on the roster and is constantly the first one in the building and the last one out. The lazy comments have been rebuked by a large group of media personalities around the team and from every player who has stood up for Sanchez.

I have been an ardent defender of Sanchez, who I do believe takes on way too much unfair criticism. People ignore the reality of his accomplishments through his first three years as a starter and how it compares to other currently successful quarterbacks in the league. Sanchez has started out his career identically to Eli Manning, except Sanchez has had more playoff success early in first three years. I am not saying Sanchez will ever be a top five quarterback in the NFL but to adamantly state they can’t win a Super Bowl with him, when he has already been within a half of the Super Bowl twice in his brief career is insane.

Could you imagine the ESPN orgasm if Tim Tebow threw 3 touchdowns, had zero turnovers and beat Tom Brady in New England this Sunday? Then could you imagine everybody acting like Mark Sanchez didn’t do the exact same thing exactly a year ago?

Sanchez is going to face excessive scrutiny from being a quarterback in New York. People will point to him doing magazine spreads and dating super models as an issue, but in reality that doesn’t affect his performance on the field. Critics like to ignore that Sanchez has been given a different pair of starting receivers every season of his career, a progressively weaker offensive line, and an incompetent offensive coordinator, that has been a factor in his performance.

Despite being a defender of Sanchez, I won’t put my head in the sand, hide behind a few statistics and say he improved from last year to this year because he didn’t. Sanchez played better in bigger spots in both 2009 and 2010, particularly in 2010 he was clutch when it mattered the most. This season he wasn’t that. He flamed out down the stretch and the issues with his body language, being skittish in the pocket, and being inaccurate were accentuated down the stretch of the season.

The Sanchez who spouts the company line to the media and is concerned about everybody liking him needs to go. The best quarterbacks can be assholes a large part of the time. It is time he demands more from himself and this offense. The scapegoat of Brian Schottenheimer is now gone and Sanchez will have more of a disciplinarian in his face with Tony Sparano and potentially Todd Haley. Sanchez needs to embrace this and become a more mature player and more mature leader.

The signs of leadership have been there in past years but just like his quarterbacking skills, it needs to be more consistent. We have seen Sanchez make every throw he needs to make. We have seen him lead fourth quarter game winning drives at home and on the road. We have seen him beat Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in the playoffs. The skill set is there but now with himself pushed into a corner of a make or break season, Sanchez must truly take over this offense in 2012 or be sent to the curb.

If Santonio Holmes doesn’t want to show up to team meetings or wants to pout in the corner. Get in his face and demand proper behavior from him or tell him to get off the field, just like Wayne Hunter did in the Miami game. Sanchez’s teammates will respect the hell out of him for that.

Peyton Manning isn’t coming through those doors, Jets fans. Instead look for somebody like Chad Henne or Jason Campbell brought in to push Sanchez and provide a competent backup. Sanchez is the guy next year and if he rebounds from this past season, will be the guy for the long term.

Cooler Heads Must Prevail for the Jets

The New York Jets need to get their house in order immediately

Right now, the world of the New York Jets is spiraling out of control in ways that couldn’t have been imagined in the Rex Ryan era; purported to be one of continued success and stability for an organization that has seriously lacked both of those things for the better part of 50 years.

Driven by a dysfunctional locker room and a bloodthirsty New York tabloid media, the perception of the Jets is such that everything is in flux and no one’s job is safe.  Outside of Rex Ryan being the team’s head coach, what can be counted on for this team as 2012 get underway?  It appears as though Tony Sparano and perhaps Todd Haley will be brought in to revamp the offense, while fans and – if the suddenly unprofessional and irresponsible Manish Mehta of the Daily News is to be believed – some players have called for Mark Sanchez to be replaced by Peyton Manning.

What really needs to happen?  Cooler heads must prevail.

It’s time for Rex Ryan to call a press conference, diffuse some of this media-driven chaos, and most importantly get his players in line.  Credit should go to Jim Leonhard and Nick Mangold, who have already come to Mark Sanchez’s defense on Twitter.

The Jets were a flawed bunch on both sides of the ball and their record reflected that. Rightfully, much of the blame fell on the quarterback because of the offense’s struggles at key moments during the season. But remember, the Jets were 8-8, not 2-14.  Mark Sanchez threw 26 touchdowns and 18 interceptions, not 5 and 24.

The point is, things are bad for the Jets right now, but they’re not as catastrophic as they seem.  Changes, particularly in offensive philosophy, needed to be made, and are being made (whether or not Sparano is the right move is another debate for another day).

Perhaps more importantly, a new leadership group must emerge for the Jets amongst the players themselves.  Rex Ryan, Brian Schottenheimer and the rest of the coaches can only take so much blame for the Jets’ dysfunction. Players must police themselves, and guys like Nick Mangold, Darrelle Revis, Sione Pouha, and most importantly, Mark Sanchez must become the ones who keep order, especially when things don’t go right.

Wildcard Winners Each Offer Jets A Lesson

TJ on what the New York Jets should have learned from watching, instead of playing, this past weekend

The Jets having been officially knocked out in week 17 technically means that they just missed the playoffs this season. They certainly didn’t “just miss” being a threat in areas they hoped to thrive in over the course of 2011 though. Wildcard weekend’s winners each showcased a piece of what the Jets thought they would possess themselves, as they made their way into year three of the Rex Ryan era last August.

Arian Foster and Ben Tate exemplified what a “Ground and Pound 2.0 ought to look like. Powerful, fast, dangerous and unrelenting. This wasn’t 3.5 yards and a cloud of dust. This combo was a brutalizing pair against the Bengals. Foster and Tate were running downhill the minute the second half began. Similar to the way Thomas Jones and Shonn Greene would in 2009, but with more explosiveness. The Jets must continue to employ Ryan’s beloved mantra, but look for ways to add to it, with outside speed and some tank like force inside.

In the Saints in thrashing the Lions 45-28, the plethora of choices that Drew Brees (who thrived after ending his connection to QB coach Brian Schottenheimer in San Diego.. cough, cough) has to work with, were the template for what the Jets tried in their own pedestrian way, to achieve when they came out as a pass happy three wide bunch to start the year. Spread out and fast paced.

The Jets like most of the teams in the NFL, will never match this weaponry. However, they can try and learn from the Saints tempo in and out of the huddle, from play to play. Crisp. Quick. With purpose.

The Jets muddling along has to stop. Too many false starts by the offense comes as a result of being out of rhythm, a step slow, and not in control of the pace of play, when they hit the line of scrimmage.

The Giants front four allowed their offense time to get into a rhythm against the Falcons, even though it was an odd 2-0 Atlanta lead for much of the first half. The Jets don’t have this knockout outside pass rush prowess up front. At all.

Yes Mike Devito, Sione Pouha and Co. are stout against the run, but this is a quarterback’s league nowadays. Strike some fear into the opposition’s signal caller and an entire 53 man team can seem alot more imposing.

Big Blue’s QB Eli Manning is as poised as he has ever been this year as well. We know the Manning Mark Sanchez comparison is an unfair one based on experience, but Sanchez should be studying how calm Manning works under duress in the pocket. How accurately he delivers third down throws with his arm, while his legs remain composed.

Tim Tebow works miracles. We know that. The Broncos collectively follow him though. They play with heart and passion and unity. The Jets failed to exude this external desperation throughout the course of their 8-8 disappointment. Perhaps this was due to the fact that internally, Gang Green owned a sense of entitlement, after two straight trips deep into January.

A more humble disposition and collective belief in each other might be the antidote to the Jets malaise going forward. It certainly has been for John Fox’s crew who appear overmatched on a weekly basis on paper, yet find themselves heading to the AFC divisional round anyway.

Hopefully the Jets took away something from a voyeuristic distance from this first playoff weekend. There was alot to be gained simply from watching.

New York Jets: The Good Guys

TOJ on the New York Jets who actually lived up to or exceeded expectations this season

Despite many players falling well short of expectations for the New York Jets this past season, not every player had a disappointing year. Here is a look at the guys who carried their weight in 2011 –

Darrelle Revis – The best corner in football played like the best corner football. Beyond being his usual lockdown self, Revis also made a number of big plays that led to victories. The only thing more you’d like to see from him at this point is a more assertive leadership role taken.

David Harris – This was one of the most productive years of his career. Harris is solid in both run and pass defense and remains a key part of the Jets 3-4 scheme.

Kyle Wilson – After a rough rookie season, Wilson took a step towards shedding the “bust” label by having a solid year as the Jets nickel back. I am not sure if he is ready to be a full time starter yet but he is moving in that direction.

Muhammad Wilkerson – The rookie had a good, not great year from start to finish. He started every game, was good against the run, and provided an occasional push against the pass. Look for a big jump from him in year two.

Sione Pouha – Pouha has established himself as one of the best run stopping defensive lineman in the league and took leadership over a position group that overachieved all season.

Marcus Dixon – He has turned into a quality rotational player that did an admirable job filling in for Mike DeVito when he was injured.

Aaron Maybin – The only player this year who provided some kind of a pass rush.

Brandon Moore – A Pro-Bowl caliber guard and a leader in the locker room who did the right thing by standing up to Santonio Holmes criticism of the offensive line earlier in the year.

Nick Mangold – The best center in football, who showed his true value by missing a few games this year.

Dustin Keller – His most productive season and one of the few Jets pass catchers who didn’t mope around at all this year.

Jeremy Kerley – One of the only explosive players on the Jets offense. He showed a ton of potential this year and should be a big part of the offense next season.

Joe McKnight – A Pro-Bowl caliber special teams player, who showed glimpses on offense. Is he ready to be a full time third down back?

Time For New Jets Media Strategy

It is time for the Jets to reconsider their media strategy

Jets rookie QB Greg McElroy, who was put on IR prior to the regular season, echoed yesterday on the radio, what many have sensed was true regarding the 2011 Jets. That there was something not right inside the Jets locker room. Few would have gathered though, that this team was a selfish stat hungry group. This insight thanks to the 7th round pick out of Alabama’s use of the team’s open door media policy, once again gives the fans totals access to their beloved team. The system may not be great for the team itself though, over the course of an emotionally grueling NFL season. Where mutual trust amongst the soldiers in the trenches is the only way to make it out alive.

We are not suggesting that the Jets go to to the other extreme by igniting their own Belichick-ian Foxborough tactic of non speak across the board. Or demanding the feared silence that helped Kim Jong il’s nuclear North Korea stiff arm the world over the past three decades.

We ARE saying that some sensibility from the players has to be a must.

If the players CAN’T utilize the privilege of voicing their thoughts in a team oriented way, then maybe the Jets need to reconsider how they allow members of the squad deal with the media going forward.

Wasn’t Rex Ryan just crying in the locker room, pleading for unity amidst the turmoil?

Too many people are beginning to tell too many family secrets. Too many names have been named already since week one. For a team that has now shown fatal togetherness issues in 2011, it’s time to review the club’s media policy. Making it priority number one heading into 2012. Before any talk of roster changes take place.

The Jets can keep the open Door Policy “open” or could go Martial law. Those are the two most extreme paths to take. What the Jets need to avoid though, is failure to clean up how the team and the media deal with each other at all. The same way won’t work anymore.

A new edited law of the land must be put in place. One that rules calling teammates out illegal, and stays away from offering the story hungry modern day blogosphere, some extra red meat to chew on.

Winning games in the NFL is hard enough as it is. The Jets need to batten down the hatches now. Tone the access down. Say goodbye to HBO and “Hard Knocks” approach. Make the Rex addicts in the media who love to live through his antics but are the first to bury him after losses, go find another team to get involved with .

It’s time for the Florham Park boys to shut up and play ball and not let anyone with a pen and paper, or a laptop run with the ball and dictate the tempo anymore. The Jets have invited and enjoyed all that has come with the recent attention from the chatter, but they have to take control of their message again, by pulling the plug on the 24 hour light that shines at the team’s complex.

As for McElroy, here’s what he had to say today to WZNN-FM:

“It’s the first time I’ve ever been around extremely selfish individuals. I think that’s maybe the nature of the NFL. But there were people within our locker room that didn’t care whether we won or lost as long as they got their … they really had a good game individually. And that’s the disappointing thing.”

“It’s going to take a lot to kind of come together next year. I think the fact that we struggled at times this year really led to a really corrupt mind-set within the locker room. But I think we’re going to regroup and I know that we’ll be a better team because of the trials and tribulations this year.”

The New York Jets: A Failure From The Top Down

The New York Jets failed from the top down this year

The New York Jets failed from the top down this year.

It started in the off-season with a handful of perplexing and ultimately season killing decisions.

First off, Mike Tannenabum evaluated Wayne Hunter capable of starting at right tackle and cut ties with Damien Woody. Tannenbaum failed to learn from a previous mistake of undervaluing a veteran lineman, when he did the same thing with Pete Kendall prior to the 2007 season and nearly got both Chad Pennington and Kellen Clemens killed. Nevermind in that same year, Tannenbaum underestimated the value of a right tackle by starting Anthony Clement all season, who combined with Kendall’s replacement, Adrien Clarke, to add to the quarterback’s pain.

Second, the Jets got caught up in “names” instead of “needs” in free agency. They didn’t need Nnamdi Asomugha but they chased him to the last second anyway because it sounded exciting to pair him with Darrelle Revis. This failed chase cost the Jets valuable time and assets in the free agency period. They settled to stand pat at safety by bringing Eric Smith back, despite him coming off an average at best season. Then, even after his market value had made him affordable, they replaced Braylon Edwards with Plaxico Burress.

Burress provided a better story. Edwards provided better production. I don’t give a damn what anybody says about Edwards after his disappointing year in San Francisco, he had chemistry with Mark Sanchez and produced in the Jets offense as a downfield threat. You build continuity with your young quarterback, you don’t switch his starting receivers every single year.

Later the Jets exacerbated this mistake by replacing Jerricho Cotchery with Derrick Mason. Cotchery should have been handed the starting job opposite Santonio Holmes, while Burress should have came in as a role player who needed to earn more time. Yet, the Jets went the opposite route and isolated themselves from one of their most respected players in the locker room and instead brought in a known trouble maker in Mason.

The New York Jets then got cheap on defense and shuttled off one of the last respected veterans in the locker room, Shaun Ellis. No Woody. A retired Tony Richardson. No Cotchery and now no Ellis, there went four of your key leaders from the year before.

Finally, Rex Ryan clumsily threw around captaincies instead of letting members of the team vote on it. He made Santonio Holmes his pet project and Holmes failed him and the team miserably. It is easy to be a good locker room guy when you are winning, not so much when the team is struggling and needs you to set an example.

Putting Holmes as a captain started out a disappointing and mismanaged year by Ryan, who admittedly never had the pulse of his team and remained too entrenched on one side of the ball. Can you imagine Bill Belichick expressing confusion over why his team threw 59 times when they are supposed to run first, or not knowing why his number one receiver was pulled off the field?

The days of being a defensive coordinator are over Rex. It is time to coach your entire team and know every detail of what is going on with every unit. I don’t buy the caricature people want to paint of Rex as a bumbling clown because those two AFC Championship appearances in his first two years mean something, but he played into the stereotype this year and needs to earn some credibility now in 2012.

The failures of Tannenabum and Ryan were matched by the players they assembled on this year’s roster, starting with quarterback Mark Sanchez. I spent a good chunk of this season, even up to the previous few weeks defending the Jets often unfairly criticized quarterback. Yes, Sanchez progressed in a number of statistical categories, despite playing behind a weak offensive line, wit underachieving wide receivers, and an awful offensive coordinator but if you want to sweep Sanchez’s statistical shortcomings from previous years under the rug because of his ability to win the big game and play big in clutch spots, you better be ready to rip him for failing in all those spots this year. The quarterback turned in three of his worst performances in the three must win games to end the season. He also clearly hasn’t asserted enough leadership in the offensive huddle yet. Do you think Saints or Packers players would be bickering on the field in their huddle?

Sanchez isn’t the only one who underachieved on offense. Holmes couldn’t handle the double teams and pressures that come with being a true number one receiver. Burress couldn’t get any separation between the 20s. Mason was a disaster on and off the field. Shonn Greene looked very ordinary in the lead back role and never broke any big plays. D’Brickashaw Ferguson had a down year. Wayne Hunter was awful at right tackle. Matthew Mulligan caused more problems than any number two tight end should be able to.

The defense wasn’t without their letdowns. Bart Scott fell from being a very good run stopping inside linebacker, to a below average situational player. Calvin Pace was paid to sack the quarterback and he never did that. All of the safeties, namely Eric Smith, had abysmal seasons. Special teams chipped in too by muffing an uncountably high number of kicks and having Nick Folk always come up with untimely misses.

This was a team wide failure that started at the top and has no carried into the off-season. Santonio Holmes quitting performance at the end of the Miami game led to a chain reaction of criticism of both him and a cancerous locker room that was likely spearheaded by his actions. When your third string rookie quarterback is talking about how selfish and disastrous your locker room is, the problems likely go past one guy.

The Jets failed all the way from the top, Woody Johnson and Mike Tannenbaum, down to the bottom, Greg McElroy, who has no business throwing his teammates under the bus to the press. They failed and so did just about everybody in-between.

So what now?

That is what the off-season is for and is an article for another day. It will start with a long look at the organizational culture around this team and it will end with some much needed releases and an infusion of not just youth, speed, and talent but also character. Some of that character will have to come from players on the team growing up and asserting their presence over the locker room to prevent a situation like this from ever happening again, I am looking at you Mark Sanchez and Darrelle Revis, and some of it will have to come from new individuals being brought on the roster.

The grace period is over Rex, Mike T and Mark. This is New York and the seat is hot in 2012.