Glauber: Is chemistry a problem for the Jets?
Much has been made of the Jets myriad acquisitions of late and the potential for a negative impact on team chemistry. Antonio Cromartie. LaDainian Tomlinson. Santonio Holmes. Jason Taylor. And who knows? Maybe Adalius Thomas before long.
It's a stunning list of additions since the Jets unexpected run to last season's AFC Championship Game, especially in light of the free agency restrictions imposed by the removal of a salary cap for the 2010 season.
But as far as Rex Ryan is concerned, this is nothing compared to last year's changes.
"You want to talk about chemistry and all that, last year was the year we had so many different players," the Jets coach said Saturday during a break in the team's rookie mini-camp practices. "This year, we made a lot of moves, but it's less than last year."
Consider: Heading into the 2009 season, the Jets had a new quarterback in Mark Sanchez, a new backup running back in Shonn Greene (who eventually emerged as the starter), a new inside linebacker in Bart Scott, a new defensive end in Marques Douglas, a new starting cornerback in Lito Sheppard, a new starting safety in Jim Leonhard. Early in the season, there was a new starting receiver in Braylon Edwards.
Oh, yeah: a new head coach, too.
What followed was a 9-7 season (after a midseason bobble that saw them at 4-6) and a playoff run that landed them within a game of the Super Bowl.
Ordinarily, you'd expect only a few tweaks here or there. But Ryan and general manager Mike Tannenbaum wound up going for it all when players like Holmes and Cromartie became available via trade and Tomlinson was out there after being released by San Diego. Throw in an aging Taylor, who can still rush the passer, and possibly Thomas, whose price needs to come down before the Jets make a move on him, and the Jets aggressiveness should be lauded, not viewed as a harbinger to locker-room disunity that will ultimately have a negative impact on the field.
"I came here to win," Ryan said. "I never came here to be average. I know when it's all said and done I'm going to be held to those standards. Did you win? Did you deliver a championship? I'm man enough to go for it, where a lot of guys aren't. Well see what happens."
Really now. How do you not like that go-for-it-all approach? The Jets could just as easily have hung back and kept the roster largely intact going into next season, and no one would have questioned the strategy. Come to think of it, every single other playoff 2009 playoff team had a mostly quiet offseason.
Not the Jets, who saw opportunities to upgrade the roster and went for it with a series of aggressive moves. Add in what appears to be a solid draft featuring Boise State cornerback Kyle Wilson and Massachusetts guard Vladimir Ducasse, and this team looks even better.
Of course, that's not to say this transition isn't without risk. Holmes will begin the season with a four-game suspension because of violating the NFL's substance abuse program. And while his much-publicized confrontation with a flight attendant who asked him to turn off his iPod during a flight on Thursday ended with no charges being lodged against the receiver, it was a further reminder that he has little wiggle room for his behavior because of his past transgressions.
The absence of stand-up locker room guys like Thomas Jones, Alan Faneca and Jay Feely can't be completely ignored. And just because the Jets brought in talented players doesn't mean it automatically will translate to more wins. Each NFL season is its own entity, and each team is unique from the year before.
But the one constant in the equation is Ryan, and that's why there's good reason to believe the moves will wind up helping this team move closer to the Super Bowl championship that has eluded this franchise going on 42 seasons.
"The only thing [last year] that never worked out was that we never had the opportunity to compete for the Super Bowl," Ryan said. "That's our mission right now. Our job in the offseason is to try to get our football team better, and that's why we made some of the moves we made. There were opportunities to get better. That's what we did."
Time to trust the man that he and his go-for-broke general manager made the right moves.