|Tomlinson, like new OC Sparano, supports Sanchez. (AP/US PRESSWIRE)|
By Ryan Wilson
Given LaDainian Tomlinson's remarks following the Jets' embarrassing Week 17 loss to the Dolphins, it's not altogether surprising that he would again suggest that the wide receivers were one of the reasons for the team's lack of cohesion this season.
First, a refresher: LdT's comments in Miami after Santonio Holmes was benched for insolence -- and worse -- quitting on his team.
"Let me just say that there were guys in the huddle that were unhappy with Tone’s demeanor," Tomlinson told reporters on January 1. “And when you have a group of guys who are fighting their butts off, and one guy who -- for whatever reason, his demeanor isn’t with ‘em -- you’ll have guys try to say something to him, just pretty much tell him how they feel. That’s what you got today.
"I’ll tell you what, it’s tough for guys to follow a captain that kind of behaves in that manner. When you’re a captain, guys are looking at you, you’ve got to lead by example. You’ve got to play your tail off until the last play. And when that don’t happen, you have guys looking at you in a way that captains shouldn’t be looked at. You should always put yourself out there as a leader. "
Head coach Rex Ryan's solution: do away with team captains. He might also want to give some thought to doing away with Holmes (although at the Jets' end-of-season presser, both Ryan and general manager Mike Tannenbaum sounded like Holmes would be back).
Tomlinson shed more light on the Jets' season of discontent during a Sunday appearance on ESPN's NFL Countdown. LdT didn't name names but as ESPNNewYork.com's Rich Cimini points out, he didn't have to. It doesn't take Norman Einstein to piece together that Tomlinson seemed to indicate that Holmes and Plaxico Burress might be responsible for recent not-so-nice -- and anonymous comments about quarterback Mark Sanchez.
"I think some things that happened in the locker room between [Sanchez] and the receivers, I think that's where this is coming from -- some of the disconnects that happened throughout the year, maybe some of the arguments you guys heard about throughout the year," Tomlinson said. "So I think this is where it may be coming from."
Last week, unnamed sources in the Jets organization described Sanchez as "lazy" and "coddled". That came days after former Jets defensive lineman Kris Jenkins suggested that “[Calling out Holmes publicly like backup Greg McElroy did] would have been all part of the process of [Sanchez] growing a pair and standing up and being a man. But the thing is, he lost his because he got caught up in the wash that is New York, the spotlight, taking pictures in the magazines and doing all that stuff. That’s just what everybody has seen with Mark Sanchez, they got tired of it.”
Center Nick Mangold and owner Woody Johnson both came out in support of Sanchez, as did Tomlinson Sunday.
"Listen, there are a lot of things you can say about Mark Sanchez, but to call him lazy is a bit much," he said. "This is a guy that has worked very hard off the field ... in the film room, I've seen it ... the weight room, putting in extra time with the coaches early in the morning ... after practice, when everybody is gone, putting in time. So he's not lazy."
Whatever Sanchez does away from the field, the reality is this: he's underperformed in 2011. His third NFL season was a disappointment punctuated by the Jets missing the playoffs. The team has since parted ways with offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer (he could end up as part of Jeff Fisher's new staff in St. Louis) and hired Tony Sparano.
During his introductory press conference Sparano proclaimed that "We’’ll be explosive. We’ll be able to get it down the field."
And during an appearance on The Michael Kay Show this week, Sparano was even more effusive.
“I’m really excited about being a part of the entire Jets organization here and getting a chance to work with Rex here and work for Rex," he said via SportsRadioInterview.com. … "As far as Mark goes I am very excited about getting a chance to work with Mark Sanchez. When you are in the other locker room he causes you so many problems in your preparation because of the way he can move and escape and extend plays and make all the throws. This guy has won a lot of games in the 4th quarter of games, so those type of things are the things that excite me.”
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