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Add Internal Strife to List of Jets Problems

Santonio Holmes and Mark Sanchez have a public spat

By Josh Alper
|  Thursday, Oct 13, 2011  |  Updated 11:48 AM EDT
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The Jets are following the blueprint of a troubled team all the way down the line.

They had a bad game two weeks ago followed by criticism from outside the organization that put a lot of pressure on the game against the Ravens.

That game was even worse, of course, and now the airing of grievances has moved inside the team.

After Sunday night's loss, wide receiver Santonio Holmes shared an unvarnished view of what went wrong with the offense. Not surprisingly, he mentioned Mark Sanchez and the offensive line.

"It starts up front with our big guys, they need to do a better job protecting Mark, and Mark has to do a better job making his reads and getting the ball to playmakers,” Holmes said.

You would be hard-pressed to find a single person who watched the game that didn't agree with what Holmes said. Maybe you would have thrown in Shonn Greene needing to show the slightest bit of spark and receivers like Dustin Keller actually trying to catch passes thrown their way even though they are going to take hits, but Holmes didn't say anything too outrageous.

In fact, it didn't really seem to register as anything other than a player blowing off steam until Wednesday afternoon. That's when Mark Sanchez meets with the media and he was asked about if he took offense about what Holmes had to say.

"Moving forward, that won’t happen.  We’ve talked about it, and those individual improvements and stuff, that happens on a personal level.  You go with your coaches and you go through your reads, and I’m going to get better, but that kind of stuff doesn’t go past this locker room."

Sanchez, who has apparently missed the last three years of Jets interaction with the media, said that things like this need to be handled in-house and strongly hinted that Holmes was called on the carpet for sharing his thoughts.

Why Sanchez's thoughts don't fall under the new paradigm of staying silent publicly was left unmentioned.

The only problem with this is that Holmes said he hadn't spoken to anyone on the team about what he said. Maybe Holmes is just following the new proto-Patriots communications strategy Sanchez laid out above or perhaps he's telling the truth, but, either way, it doesn't sound like he's thrilled with what the quarterback had to say.

"If coach put a 'C' on my chest, everybody should listen to what I have to say whether it’s good or bad and let’s build from it," Holmes said. "Let’s not take it out and say, 'OK, we’re going to trash this person for saying something bad about the team in the media..'"

These are not the Jets we are used to watching. Even when things went off the rails in the last two seasons, there was none of this whiny bickering going on among members of the team when someone had something critical to say after a bad loss.

There was always that confidence bubbling to the surface, even after the 45-3 loss to the Patriots when people laughed at the Jets for publicly expressing the belief that things were heading in the right direction. Now, though, the Jets have about as much swagger as the American economy.

A win will stop the bleeding and having the Patriots next up means that it could do more than that. It could get the team back to the swaggering ways they called their own for the last two years.

But the fact that they are looking to rediscover another part of their identity just four weeks into the season is further evidence that there's something fundamentally different about this year's Jets team.

It will probably take more than one win to fix that, but the Jets should feel free to prove us wrong on Sunday.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.

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