Commentary

Jets' O needs to look for No. 10 again

To beat Baltimore on Sunday, Gang Green needs to get Santonio Holmes more involved

Updated: September 30, 2011, 11:01 AM ET
By Rich Cimini | ESPNNewYork.com

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Santonio Holmes wants the ball. Who can blame him for feeling neglected? He was targeted only twice last Sunday in Oakland, where he learned the Black Hole is more than just a section of rowdy Raiders fans. It's that region of the New York Jets' offense that entraps a different wide receiver each week.

First it was Derrick Mason, then Plaxico Burress, now Holmes. On Thursday, the $45 million wide receiver stopped short of complaining, but you didn't need to be a mind reader to figure out his take on the matter.

"Hopefully, [Mark] Sanchez and Schotty realize that putting the ball in my hands, I can definitely make a big difference," said Holmes, referring to offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. "I'm pretty sure the defense is going to be more afraid if I touch the ball more than two times. They're going to be satisfied if I don't touch it at all."

To beat the Baltimore Ravens Sunday night on the road, the Jets will have to do a better job of involving Holmes. He has game-breaking ability, and players like that need the ball in their hands.

Holmes is a Ravens killer. He has scored a receiving touchdown in seven straight games against them (including playoffs), dating to his days in the AFC North as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Since 2007, he has scored more touchdowns against Ray Lewis & Co. than any player in the league, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

So, yeah, it might be a good idea to look for No. 10.

"I knew he was frustrated, and I get that," said Schottenheimer, alluding to Holmes' one catch in Oakland.

After the 34-24 loss, Holmes made a veiled criticism of Schottenheimer, saying the Jets needed to adjust quicker on the fly. The Raiders, traditionally a man-to-man team, switched to zone -- and it took the Jets some time to adjust. They hit "a stale spot," as Schottenheimer put it.

"There were clearly some things that I wished we had recognized quicker as a staff," said Schottenheimer, validating Holmes' postgame sentiment.

Holmes
Elsa/Getty ImagesGood things happen for the Jets' offense when Santonio Holmes gets touches.

There's no rule that says Holmes can't catch a pass against a zone defense. Put him in motion, throw a quick screen, do anything to get him the ball. There was no "Tone Time" in Oakland; the Jets' game plan was on East Coast time, three hours off. That said, Schottenheimer has a difficult job. With Holmes, Burress and Mason, he has three players who have been No. 1 receivers at various points in their career. He also has tight end Dustin Keller, off to a terrific start, and LaDainian Tomlinson out of the backfield. There are a lot of mouths to feed.

"I feel like every week when I walk into the [meeting] room, there's going to be a guy disappointed that he didn't get enough balls," Schottenheimer said. "That doesn't bother me. I want guys like that."

Schottenheimer gets paid good money to massage the egos in the room and keep everybody happy. His job is to protect Sanchez from having to deal with the same issues. Sanchez is a quarterback, not a mediator.

"It's something I can think about," Schottenheimer said of the balancing act, "but it's nothing the quarterback needs to worry about."

Burress knows the feeling. Two weeks ago, he fell into the black hole, held without a catch in the rout of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Rex Ryan tried to pacify him late in the game, calling his number on a goal-line play that nearly ended in disaster when Sanchez was drilled by a pass-rusher.

So, naturally, the Jets opened in Oakland by throwing to Burress on the first play. Could the motivation have been any more obvious? They shouldn't have to go to that extent to find Holmes, who's confident that he won't be forgotten in Baltimore.

"It's a [process], watching the film and seeing the little things that weren't done right in the game plan last week," he said. "We'll find a way to get it corrected this week."

Translation: a way to get him the ball.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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