The New York Jets late season collapse and surprising locker room issues have put the team in the headlines almost on a daily basis. Recently I had a chance to interview three diehard Jets fans (also season ticket holders) to hear their thoughts on the issues that Gang Green is facing.
TR:Following the Jets “meltdown in Miami” the team has been making headlines for all of the wrong reasons. What are your thoughts on the team’s chemistry issues and who do you think is most responsible for them?
Brian Imbemba Jr. : “While I think there is a significant chemistry problem between certain individuals on the team I think the media has also made its best effort to exacerbate the situation. I think the responsibility for this falls on the coach, the gm and the players. I think the general manager has placed little value on the importance of locker room leaders and it showed in this years team. Rex has said he never had a true pulse on this team and that is inexcusable. It is his third year as a head coach and much like the QB we need to see some growth. Lastly not one player stepped up and took control of that locker room?? Are we really that devoid of leadership? On a side note LaDainian Tomlinson is the furthest thing from a leader as he did absolutely nothing to defuse this situation but made sure to speak of the problems as he parted ways with the team much like he did with San Diego.”
Joseph Grinwis : “Obviously there is a problem on the offensive side of the ball, most notably between Sanchez and Holmes. I’m guessing here, but I assume that Holmes’ attitude is the biggest issue and if it’s something that he’s not willing to work on then he should get the boot, unless the organization wants to condone his me-first attitude and in which case they should just deal with the consequences of what’s going to happen every year between the two until Sanchez is gone.”
Randy Reay : “To start in all the years I have been a Jet Fan I have never been more embarrassed then I have been in the last 2 seasons. We have gone from a team that was liked around the league to an organization that people and other teams take pleasure in throwing under the bus. The Jets did this to themselves. Rex Ryan created a “frat house mentality” and it has backfired big time. Accountability should be the key this season.I personally blame the entire organization from Woody Johnson to Mike Tannenbaum to Rex Ryan.”
TR: According to several published reports the relationship between Mark Sanchez and Santonio Holmes deteriorated as the season played out. How would you address this situation going into the offseason?
Brian Imbemba Jr. : “There has to be accountability, consequences and repercussions. I would start by sitting them down and let them both know what’s at stake team-wise and individually. From that point it has to be monitored closely as we progress from mini-camps to Cortland. Let them room together at Cortland and see how the relationship develops. As long as they are able to function on the field I do not think how they feel about each other off of it will matter. I think qb/receiver communication has to be stressed, as on too many occasions they were not on the same page.”
Joseph Grinwis: “I’d sit them both down and talk about what’s going on, what their differences are, etc. If all sides don’t see a resolution coming quickly then either Sanchez or Holmes need to be released or traded. Obviously this would have to happen before February 8, when Holmes is guaranteed $7.25 million of his 2013 contract, let alone the $7.75 million he’s already guaranteed in 2012.”
Randy Reay: “Rex and Sparano need to sit down with them both and read them the riot act. There is no “I” in team. Holmes should have never been made a captain to start with. What kind of message are you sending to the rest of the team by making him captain? This issue should have never been swept under the carpet and should never have gotten to this point.”
TR: Heading into his third season the expectations were pretty high for quarterback Mark Sanchez. How would you evaluate Sanchez at this point and do you believe that he is a franchise quarterback?
Brian Imbemba Jr. : “I think based on pure skill I would evaluate Sanchez as an average quarterback. He has flashes of brilliance but for the most part he is middle of the road. I think his problems start with fundamentals. He needs to keep 2 hands on the football and keep it high until the decision to throw is made. He has a propensity to fumble. He runs through his progressions way too fast and checks-down before a play has a chance to develop. At certain points he locks onto one receiver or only scans half the field and most importantly his accuracy has been sub-par. As far as being a franchise quarterback I do not believe he is at that point, but I am not ready to throw the towel in. I think he deserves a shot with new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano before we can make a final judgment.”
Joseph Grinwis: “Sanchez has regressed every year since joining the Jets. He has proven time and time again that he is not capable of consistently winning games when the coaching staff hands him the ball and asks him to do so. He is not a franchise quarterback he is a game manager, and a pretty good one at that. But if a team stops the Jets’ rushing attack or the defense has an off day, the Jets will find it hard to win with Sanchez at quarterback. Everything around him will have to be near perfect in order for him to win a championship one day.”
Randy Reay:“Sanchez took a step back no doubt, but not 100% is on him. The fact that the offensive line gave him very little protection hurt him while his receivers dropped catchable passes as well. Brian Schottenheimer’s play calling did not help either. Sanchez has shown he can take a hit (great) but that being said he looks lost at times, locks in on a receiver, and turns the ball over at the worst time. Sanchez no longer has Shotty to take the bullet for him and in my opinion this is a make or break year for him. If he cannot cut it then it is time to cut our losses and move on to another quarterback.”
TR: What are you feelings on the hiring of offensive coordinator Tony Sparano?
Brian Imbemba Jr. : “I am a fan of the hire. If not for it being a breath of fresh air I think he meshes well with the head coach, something I never thought Rex and Schotty had. I think his vision of the offense and Rex’s vision are aligned. This team will get back to running the football, working the play action, and god-willingly stretching the field to get the extra defender out of the box on almost every down. I think he will make players accountable and demand a certain level of performance. Maybe our QB can use the tough love he is going to receive.”
Joseph Grinwis: “ Love it. Sparano will bring back ground and pound and a ball control style offense that fits the capabilities of Sanchez to a tee. If Sanchez still is inconsistent he will be replaced by the veteran that the Jets will surely bring in this off-season.”
Randy Reay: “Could be a breath of fresh air after Shotty. I understand he is an in your face kind of guy who demands accountability which I think is great.”
TR: What do you think are some of the Jets biggest needs as the team prepares for the 2012 season?
Brian Imbemba Jr. : “In no particular order I would say 2 new safeties (one dynamic player at the very least) an every down 3-4 OLB who can rush the passer, OL in particular right tackle and depth, a complimentary running back to Shonn Greene, a vertical threat wide receiver, an inside backer with speed to replace Scott and both a punter and kicker.”
Joseph Grinwis: “They need help in several areas. Most notably they need a starting right tackle, a pass rushing outside linebacker, and two starting caliber safeties, along with some youth and speed at the wide receiver position. A bruising running back to spell the often-injured Shonn Greene would help as well.”
Randy Reay: “Wow we need a ton of help. Offensive lineman, pass rusher, linebacker, safety, a backup quarterback, a running back to push Shonn Greene, and a tight end to team with Keller. The Jets need better overall depth and need to improve team speed.”
TR: Thank you for your time guys, your insight is appreciated. As always it is going to be a very interesting off-season for the New York Jets.
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Erik Manassy is the author of this blog and a self proclaimed “Die Hard” New York Jets fan.