If Rex and Tanny Want to Make a Statement, The Time Is Now and the Answer Is to Say “Goodbye, Santonio”
- Updated: January 5, 2012
They say winning cures all ills. Well, losing, or falling way short of expectations, sure does a helluva job of shining a blinding spotlight on those ills. Whether it’s respected HOF-bound veterans like LaDainian Tomlinson or a rookie who spent the season on IR, the dirty laundry has been aired regarding the lack of chemistry and a poisonous attitude that apparently permeated the Jets locker room in 2011-12. Santionio Holmes is the lead villain in this story of dysfunction, but it’s Rex Ryan and GM Mike Tannenbaum who were at the ship’s helm and played an integral role in steering it wrong. Ryan admitted as much with his comments about not having his finger on the “pulse of this team.” There’s not a whole lot worse indictments of a head coach than that. Yet, Rexy and Mikey T. have a chance to right a major wrong by taking the biggest current albatross and discarding it. Yes, it’s Tone Time…time to go.
Before detractors begin clamoring about dollars, let’s talk sense. Rex Ryan needs to make a change, and Mike Tannenbaum can also learn something from this year’s failed experiment. People saw this coming. I have been a fan of this team for a long time, and it’s easy to get sucked up into visions of grandeur staked on talent. But talent alone does not make a winner. One could argue, Jets fans has their fingers on the pulse long before the season started. As I read through the comments of my go-to at The Jets Blog, questions of chemistry and character were prevalent from early this past offseason. And not as much around Holmes, Burress or Mason, but, rather, the departure of players like Brad Smith, Tony Richardson, Damien Woody and Jerricho Cotchery. The Jets missed those guys…dearly. It’s not clear whether they would have quelled the coming quake, but they would have certainly stood alongside folks like Brandan Moore and voiced their displeasure.
I absolutely believe the tone and mental makeup of this team changed in a negative way with those departures and the new arrivals. It’s clear that the “magic” that was there in previous seasons was gone. While one can’t peg Mark Sanchez’s step back on the roster alone, it certainly didn’t help. The difference between a few vocal and respected leaders and a chorus of such individuals had a larger ripple effect that is only now coming fully into light.
This all leads us back to Rex and Tannenbaum. What does it mean? It means Mike Tannenbaum needs to learn from his mistakes. Yes, the Jets have glaring holes and weaknesses on this team as currently constructed (right tackle, safety and tight end…ahem, MULLIGAN, immediately come to mind). However, this season illustrated that the measurables only account for so much. It can’t be the only consideration in choosing the men who will wear this uniform and represent the Jets on the field and off.
For Rexy, it means he needs to learn how to change his stripes – if only a bit. Rex is not going to stop being Rex, and he shouldn’t. He’s a “player’s coach” and that’s a good thing. He is confident and focused on winning. He is a man who supports his guys if even to a fault. It’s naive and misguided to expect or desire Rex Ryan to adopt an entirely new persona. However, Ryan has been a head coach for all of three seasons. His accomplishments are in many ways impressive. The “losing of the locker room” this year, though, is one of his biggest fumbles. How he reacts will show how and if he’s learned and matured as a head coach.
Rex’s motto and message to his roster since arriving with Gang Green has been to “play like a Jet.” The edict needs to begin to extend beyond his team’s actions between the hashmarks. Finding some way to cut ties with Santonio Holmes, regardless of the potential economic implications, is one action that will speak volumes that Rex and Tannenbaum are starting to hear Jimi.