by, Matt Alkire – Scoutsnotebook.com
One of my fascinations with the offseason has been the New York Jets and the fan and media reaction to both their “amazing 2009 season” and what many feel have been incontestable decisions that they’ve made not only in free agency, but in trades that they’ve made for players over the past two years. I think part of my attraction to the situation stems from the fact that Sexy Rexy Ryan enjoys tooting his own horn in the media so much, but let’s take some time to look at some of these moves. Also, if Sexy Rexy ever reads this, your poppa Buddy is a football God to me, so I give you your nickname in love.
The first thing I’d like to address are some trades the Jets have made over the past two years.
Antonio Cromartie, CB
Cromartie was absolutely outstanding in 2007 picking off 10 passes and even better, he only started eight games. What’s more, he made some absolutely evil catches while doing it. He looked like a premier corner. His play the past two seasons in San Diego has been nothing better then average.
Cromartie has seven children with six different women, was arrested for assault in 2009 and has been indicated in the Florida State academic scandal. The Jets also had to forward him $500,000 in cash so he could get himself out of financial troubles. He’s not an evil guy, but there’s some baggage there.
The Jets gave up a conditional 2011 3rd round draft pick that can turn into a 2nd rounder based on the amount of playing time he gets. The Jets love big corners that can play press coverage. Cromartie is a big corner that excels in press coverage. He is also in a contract year, so one would assume that he’ll play his butt off this year to get paid big money. If Cromartie plays up to his potential, the Jets just gave up a 2nd rounder to lock down what could be one of the best corner duos in the NFL. Great trade! I guess what I’m cautioning against is people that are automatically assuming that will happen. There is a reason why the Chargers traded Cromartie away for a low price and drafted a corner in the 1st round with him already on the roster. It’s definitely a trade I would have made and I applaud the Jets for taking the risk, but just keep in mind that there is some risk here as Lito Sheppard essentially shit the bed in a contract year.
Santonio Holmes, WR
This is the trade where the enormous praise from the media and the bragging from Jets fans just drives me up the wall. This was a player that the Steelers were going to cut, so they essentially dangled him in front of the whole league and said, “The highest pick takes him.” The highest pick ended up being a 5th rounder. How that didn’t set off the damaged goods alarm I’ll never understand.
Holmes has already been involved in a domestic violence incident before he was drafted in which the charges were eventually dropped and been arrested for marijuana possession in 2008, but he topped it off after being traded to the Jets with getting himself suspended for the first four games of the season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Still, this was a “great trade” and a “steal” for the Jets. Color me unimpressed.
Yes, Santonio Holmes is a very good wide receiver. Hell, he was the Super Bowl MVP just two seasons ago. He’s coming off a 1,248-yard season which was the best of his career and is only 26 years old. He gives Mark Sanchez and outstanding downfield threat to go along with Braylon Edwards. Still, in one offseason you’ve brought in two players with character issues, the second of which was bad enough to be cast off for a 5th rounder.
Before we get any further into trades, let’s get to a big part of my point with the decisions the Jets have made. This year Sexy Rexy chose to let go of veterans Thomas Jones and Alan Faneca, both veteran leaders whose presence was just as, if not as important in the locker room as it was on the football field. I understand that players were behind them that the Jets wanted to get onto the field, but you’ve replaced your veteran leaders with two guys that have been detrimental to their former teams.
You have your franchise left tackle in D’Brickashaw Ferguson and your center in Nick Mangold commenting publicly that they’re upset that Faneca has been let go. Last year the Jets were a 9-7 wildcard team that made their way to the AFC Championship game. I don’t care about the scores of the games or people that think they were lucky to beat teams on the way there, but what I will point out is that winning is the best cologne there is and when you lose, the wheels fall off pretty quickly. Are Holmes and Cromartie going to put the team on their back in those situations? Leadership can be the difference between a 9-7 and a 7-9 team very easily. There are other players in the locker room that can step up, but you can’t convince me there are two as good as Jones and Faneca were as they could also prove it on the field, where anyone who has played the game knows you need to prove it for anyone else on the team to listen to a word you say.
The Jets are coming out and making it clear that they’re willing to take risks to win, that much is clear. Before these trades they went out and picked up Braylon Edwards at a reasonable price and also made a deal with Philadelphia for cornerback Lito Sheppard that was, in my opinion, a no lose situation for the Jets.
I like a lot of what the Jets are doing and I question a lot of what the Jets are doing, but the fact is that they’re trying to get better which has to be exciting for their fan base. I guess my biggest two questions are the following.
1. Will their latest two moves pay off and will the chemistry of the team be able to stay positive even through rough times?
2. Why does Rex Ryan feel the need to continually tell the world how great this team is with quotes like this about acquiring Adalius Thomas. “With him, we’ll end up first in the league. Without him, we’ll end up first in the league. So if we get him, that will be great.”
To me, Sexy Rexy is putting himself in a corner. Anything but a Super Bowl and you’ve set yourself up to be a massive failure in the media capital of the entire world. The man has some cajones, I’ll give him that. Like father like son.