Commentary

All's well with Team Turmoil? Try again

Don't believe the Jets' locker-room hype -- drubbing Dolphins doesn't solve anything

Updated: October 18, 2011, 1:40 PM ET
By Rich Cimini | ESPNNewYork.com

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Jets aren't crumbling from within. There's no locker-room turmoil. Santonio Holmes and Brandon Moore are best buds. Everything is cool in Rex World.

And if you believe that, you probably still think Derrick Mason didn't do anything wrong to get run out of town.

The Jets staged their "One Big Happy Family" routine after Monday night's 24-6 victory over the Miami Dolphins at MetLife Stadium, with all the players and coaches sounding as though they were reading from a Hallmark greeting card.

It's easy to let bygones be bygones when you win. The Jets dominated a made-to-order opponent, snapping a three-game losing streak, and that means they still have a chance to make something out of this season. But it doesn't solve their issues; it's going to take more than one win to change the mojo and make everything right.

[+] EnlargeSantonio Holmes
Andrew Mills/The Star-Ledger/US PresswireSantonio Holmes and the Jets were all smiles on Monday night. But it'll take more than one win to fix their issues this season.

"We're not always lined up," Rex Ryan said, "but we're all chasing the same thing."

They have a funny way of showing it. Things got so ugly last week, with Holmes and Moore engaged in a war of words in the media, that Mr. Hands-Off Coach -- Ryan -- felt compelled to step in and play peacekeeper.

On Saturday, Ryan summoned Holmes and Moore to his office in an attempt to resolve their differences. That same day, Ryan addressed the squabbles in a team meeting, basically telling the players, "Enough is enough."

Ryan wasn't done. In a transparent attempt to show unity, he made Holmes and Moore game captains. So there they were, walking side by side to midfield for the coin toss. It's a surprise that Ryan, known for using props in his own stand-up routines, didn't make them carry an olive branch.

That was the snapshot of the night -- that and Darrelle Revis' 100-yard interception return, the game-changing play that might have done more for team chemistry than any powwow.

"It showed everybody we were past all the bickering and all the drama," guard Matt Slauson said of Ryan's captain ploy. "We can't afford to have that in our locker room, and that just showed that it's done."

Ryan smiled when asked about his choice of captains.

"That was just a coincidence," he deadpanned.

Ryan needed to do something. Even though he's an advocate of letting players speak their minds -- the anti-Eric Mangini approach -- it doesn't mean he should sit back and let them rip one another in the media.

The situation turned ugly on Friday, when Moore -- upset that Holmes called out the offensive line -- fired back and questioned his teammate's leadership. Holmes is one of five season captains, but he didn't behave like a captain by throwing the line under the bus.

So they got called to the principal's office.

"We had to get some things off our chest and at each other," Ryan said. "I can assure you, we're together and that's the important thing."

In the team meeting, Ryan told the players, "Guys, enough. Let's be a team and let's back each other up," according to Slauson. Ryan also gave a slide show, dusting off the old "Things that can ruin our season" slide that he showed on the first day of training camp. On the list of no-no's: No bickering among teammates.

"You lose three games in this league, that's tough," Ryan said. "In every locker room, things like this happen. The difference is, I think we're open, so maybe it's noticed more. Trust me, we're past those things. It's unfortunate that it happened, but that's how it goes."

Neither Moore nor Holmes sounded like he'd be inviting the other guy for a beer anytime soon. Moore, his jaw clenched, said it was an honor to be named a game captain. He called Holmes a "great teammate" and claimed that the matter was over as soon he finished giving his last sound bite on Friday.

"It was pretty much settled," Moore said.

Asked how he could speak so glowingly of Holmes only three days after ripping him, Moore bristled and said, "Because I did."

Holmes didn't have much to say, either.

"What happened last week was last week," he said. "We're looking forward to what's going on next week."

You'd have to be naive to think this matter will just go away. Other players, not just Moore, were upset by Holmes' comments. There also have been questions about offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, who must think at times that he's running a nut house.

Fortunately for the Jets, the Dolphins showed up at the right time. After an awful first quarter in which they were outgained 173 yards to 10, the Jets got their act together and decided they weren't going to let a winless team embarrass them on national TV.

They turned quarterback Matt Moore into Luke McCown, sacking him four times and intercepting him twice (both by Revis). They also benefited from some ghastly plays from the beast, Brandon Marshall, who dropped a pass in the end zone and, inexplicably, ran out of bounds at the Jets' 19 with a clear path to the goal line.

Offensively, the Jets duplicated last week's start, going three-and-out on their first four possessions. The crowd was getting restless, booing, but everything changed when Revis went for 100 and the offense stumbled into three scoring drives, including a 38-yard touchdown pass to Holmes.

That was a fantastic play by Mark Sanchez, who beat a blitz by finding Holmes on a shallow cross. It was a great run by Holmes, who sliced the Dolphins' terrible secondary. And it was a nice moment for the embattled offensive line, which neutralized the blitz and gave time for Sanchez to find his check-down option.

Afterward, Holmes, the resident expert on offensive-line play, praised the pass protection. Oh, yeah, it all sounded good, but the real test will be Sunday, when the San Diego Chargers come to town. If the Jets beat them and reach the bye at 4-3, then maybe we'll call them the Good Ship Lollipop.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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