Just how bad was the squabbling and back-stabbing in the locker room of the New York Jets this past season? According to sources close to two players, there's already been collateral damage--the firing of offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer--and there's more on the horizon.
On paper this was a playoff team, though some would dispute that claim due to the absence of a solid running game. But it was certainly better its lackluster 8-8 record. Actually, it could have been worse. A certain amount of locker-room discord is normal, say the sources, but what was going on in the Jets locker room was off the charts. This 8-8 team could just as easily been 6-10.
Apparently Schottenheimer got caught in the middle of several feuds. The most publicized was the rift between QB Mark Sanchez and WR Santonio Holmes but there were others. Some, say these sources, are rooted in off-the-field issues, such as clashes over women and the sexual preferences of certain players.
The meetings were unpleasant gatherings, snipe-fests were players often just grumbled at each other. Schottenheimer's ideas weren't the problem. Getting them executed properly by players who were grumbling at each other--that was the real problem. Under those adverse conditions, the offense never clicked. The failed offense wasn't really Schottenheimer's fault but, at the end of the season, he's the one who took the fall.
The Sanchez-Holmes feud had been simmering for a while but it flared out of control in early October when, after the 34-17 loss to Baltimore, Holmes went public, griping about the offensive line and, in particular, Sanchez. After that, the locker room, say the sources, was a minefield. The communication and camraderie needed for successful offensive production just wasn't there.
Sanchez is part of the problem. Some players just don't like him. Others complain about his work ethic, insisting he's lazy. Apparently the anonymous source, an unidentfied Jet player, who ripped into Sanchez in the media was arranged by Holmes. The source's name is still well guarded but the players figure he was just a stooge for Holmes.
Where do the Jets go from here? They've hired Tony Sparano to replace Schottenheimer, but does he have what it takes to soothe these humongus egos and patch together this broken offense? Head coach Rex Ryan watched the locker room go up in flames and watched helplessly, unable to put out the fire. The Jets can't go into a season with the bad blood between Sanchez and Holmes drowning the team.
Do they get rid of Sanchez, who clearly took a step backward last year? Many think that's the answer This will be very interesting off-season for the Jets.