Last year after backup quarterback Mark Brunell received snaps with the New York Jets first team, starting quarterback Mark Sanchez said he wanted to fight head coach Rex Ryan. Now on Sunday after a 19-17 loss at the Miami Dolphins, wide receiver Santonio Holmes actually did start fighting with his teammates.
Twice — and to the point that Holmes was benched in the fourth quarter in what he called a "coach's call."
Holmes was the Jets' big-name coup during the offseason as they managed to re-sign a wide receiver nicknamed "Tone Time" after several big plays last season in the fourth quarter gave the Jets key midseason wins. Having signed a five-year, $45 million dollar deal in August, Holmes has failed to produce, finishing the season with his lowest receiving yardage of his career.
One source told The Newark Star Ledger that offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer benched Holmes because Schottenheimer had simply had enough. "He quit," the player said. "It's happened for the past two to three weeks. It's happened all season."
Playing in what might have been the last game of his career, veteran running back LaDainian Tomlinson said that Holmes showed his teammates an "I quit" mentality throughout the game. This was confirmed by several sources, both named and unnamed.
"Well, I'll tell you what. It's tough for guys to follow a captain that kind of behaves in that manner. You a captain, guys looking at you. You got to lead by example. You got to play your tail off until the last play," Tomlinson said. "And when that doesn't happen, you will have guys look at you in the way that captains shouldn't be looked at. You should always put yourself out there as a leader."
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It has been a pattern for a player of whom much was expected this year. In fact, Holmes has had a habit of doing more running with his mouth than with the ball this year, his second season with the Jets.
Despite being named a captain by head coach Rex Ryan prior to the season, Holmes still exhibited the same selfishness and reckless behavior that marked his tenure (and exodus) from Pittsburgh after the 2009 season. Holmes went through the media to call out the offensive line early in the season for poor play then reportedly threw offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer under the bus in a meeting with Ryan in October. Later in the season, he admitted that Sanchez was placating his receivers by forcing the ball to them.
But on Sunday in the huddle, Holmes picked two fights leading to him being replaced by wide receiver Patrick Turner, a player who was on the Jets practice squad earlier in the season. Schottenheimer made the decision to yank the Jets fifth highest paid player (and captain) from the game. At the podium following the game, Holmes said he "hopes for the best" with regards to whether the embattled offensive coordinator would return to the team next year.
"It wouldn't be my decision to make that choice whether he returns or not," Holmes said.
For his part, head coach Rex Ryan denied knowledge of the incident post-game, a coach known for his frequent misspeaks suddenly finding the mute button when his star player throws a tantrum.
"I never saw it," Ryan said of the incident. "Maybe I'll see it and talk to people about it. I'd rather not really comment about it until I know the particulars. I know he was on the bench when I asked where he was. That's as far as I know. I don't have any idea if it was injury related or what it was. So I guess you'd have to ask Santonio."
Follow Kristian R. Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer
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