Commentary

Holmes becoming a leader in defeat

With the Jets struggling, the WR is doing what he can to keep the team focused

Updated: October 12, 2011, 12:55 PM ET
By Jane McManus | ESPNNewYork.com

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Near the end of Santonio Holmes' news conference following the New York Jets' 30-21 loss to the New England Patriots, a local Boston reporter asked the wide receiver to talk about his admiration for the Patriots and Tom Brady. There was a slight pause as he considered the question, and decided to answer it bluntly.

"Just losing to any team sucks, and especially this team," Holmes said.

The Jets have lost three straight games. And a recent media report -- emphatically denied by the three starting receivers -- describes a near mutiny among the group. Yet it is just five games into the season, and Holmes is a team captain in his second year with the Jets, and they need a leader on the offense to keep everyone focused.

Holmes needed to be an optimist after the divisional loss. So even if he couldn't muster admiration for Brady, he wanted to be clear that he still believed in his team.

"I didn't sign back here to play for the New York Jets and not believe," Holmes said, "or doubt Coach [Rex] Ryan that we can get the job done. Having Mark Sanchez as our quarterback; I believe in him. Having Darrelle Revis as one of our captain defensive backs; I believe in him. The things that we're doing special teams-wise, I believe in what those guys have in them. So yes I do believe."

Holmes was much more diplomatic following the game this week, after getting blasted for calling out Sanchez and the offensive line (sans center Nick Mangold) following the Week 4 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Derrick Mason -- who was less critical than Holmes in the Ravens' postgame -- found his playing time slashed in favor of rookie Jeremy Kerley (three catches for 35 yards and a touchdown), who was told early in the week he'd get more playing time. Mason didn't give a reason for his change of status.

"They just asked me to be a part of the team, that's all," said Mason, who caught the lone pass sent his way for seven yards.

Holmes led all Jets receivers with 60 yards on four receptions, and Plaxico Burress wasn't far off with 42 yards on three catches, though he dropped two passes and was targeted eight times.

"I left a few plays out there myself," Burress acknowledged. "You just evaluate yourself, be your own biggest critic. It's a humbling game."

Burress thought the catch that was overturned on replay was a completion, and that the officials mistook a defender's shoe for his. Holmes scored in the fourth quarter to bring the Jets to within a touchdown with 7:14 left to play. It was tough to watch the defense allow a field goal.

"There was nothing we could do as an offensive team sitting on the sideline, it was up to our defense and the Patriots put together a great off game plan, getting the ball into the hands of their playmakers."

Fact is, all three receivers had to take a backseat as Jets coach Rex Ryan said the running game would come back to the forefront. Sanchez ended the game with 166 yards on 16 completions, while the running game put up 97 yards.

The numbers may not have added up to a win, but the game was a far better effort than the loss to Baltimore or in Oakland. A report Sunday morning had the frustration level for the wide receivers so high that all three starters supposedly sought out Ryan to discuss offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer's play-calling.

"Whoever wrote that story, they're just making up stories," Burress said. "It's all erroneous."

Holmes did point to the lack of training camp as part of the lack of chemistry between Sanchez and the new receivers. He said there is less time to get the new players in the system and draw up plays, which hurts an offensive-minded team like the Jets.

Holmes seems to have learned a lot about being a captain in a short week. Now he has to figure out how to help his team get back to winning. Asked how to turn around a losing streak, Holmes was at a loss for words.

"This is probably my first time having a three-game losing streak," he said. "So I can't speak to that."

Jane McManus has covered New York sports since 1998 and began covering football just before Brett Favre's stint with the Jets. Her work has appeared in Newsday, USA Today, The Journal News and The New York Times. Follow Jane on Twitter.

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