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Jets continue to play the blame game

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The Jets, who appear to be a team in disarray, are entering some dangerous territory.

Their swaggering style has been replaced by finger-pointing by members of their offense. The latest salvo came Friday from guard Brandon Moore, who shot back at receiver Santonio Holmes for his comments ripping the offensive line's play.

Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer also has come under fire, and LaDainian Tomlinson is saying that everybody needs to step back and take a deep breath.

It's certainly been a tumultuous week for the Jets, a wild five-day span that began with last Sunday's deflating loss in New England, followed by Tuesday's trade of receiver Derrick Mason, which had Plaxico Burress questioning if Mason really was shipped off because of his underwhelming production through five games.

Factor in the heat being directed at Schottenheimer, the architect of an offense that ranks 28th in the league, and it's enough to wonder if there really are some "cracks" within the team, as Mason bluntly said two weeks ago after the Jets' 17-point loss in Baltimore.

All this backbiting has people looking directly at Schottenheimer. But Tomlinson, trying to be a veteran voice of reason, believes the Jets offense's struggles don't fall squarely on Schottenheimer's shoulders, explaining it's the players' fault.

"If we want to be champions like we say we want to be, we've got to hold each other accountable as players and not blame it on the coaches all the time," Tomlinson said. "We've got to get the job done."

Schottenheimer said he appreciates the players having his back, but he knows that his back, not theirs, is where the bull's-eye resides.

"There's plenty of blame to go around," he said. "There's certainly things that we need to execute better. There are certainly [times] that I'd like to have calls back. You can't put a percentage on it. So ultimately, when you sit in my chair, you take the responsibility."

Moore doesn't believe Holmes, who called out the offensive line Thursday as a reason for the Jets' anemic offensive production, is handling his responsibility as an offensive captain correctly.

"He's obviously got the green light to evaluate every position on the team," Moore told ESPNNewYork.com. "I just didn't think captaincy entailed that. I've never seen a captain do that. That's not leading. That's not being a leader. It actually fragments the locker room. It's not productive."

Moore told the New York Post: "I talked to him after the last time he did it the week after the Baltimore game and he didn't see anything wrong with it. I don't know what he thinks about me; I don't deal with him, and I probably won't deal with him after this."

But Nick Mangold, who also played with Holmes at Ohio State, wasn't irked by Holmes' criticism.

"Santonio is a very competitive player," the All-Pro center said. "He's a great guy, a good teammate, and a lot of times that competitiveness, that drive to do well and do great, it happens. It's just one of those things, you move on and don't worry about it too much."

Schottenheimer doesn't think Holmes is creating a locker-room rift. "Santonio is a guy [who's] very competitive," he said. "Sometimes when things are said in the media, they don't always come off the way you say them. Those are the situations where again, we don't worry about it."

The Jets haven't taken many shots downfield -- Tomlinson's 74-yard short-catch-and-run against the Raiders is their lone play of at least 40 yards all season -- and Holmes indicated that's because the offensive line has not given Sanchez enough time to let long pass plays develop. Schottenheimer disputed that theory, though.

"No, absolutely not," he said. "Pass protection is about more than just the offensive line. Everybody is involved, from the coaches that design the protections, to the line, to the backs, to the quarterback getting the ball out of his hand, to the receivers that are involved with what protections you do where they have adjustments and stuff. That's got nothing to do with it."

Schottenheimer said he might bring his unit together for a chat to help simmer things down.

"Absolutely," he said. "Whether it's done in public, whether it's done in private, those are things that we'll keep in house, and this group will be ready to go on Monday night. I have no questions about that."

Notes & quotes: CB Antonio Cromartie responded to Miami WR Brandon Marshall's comments saying the two might get into a fight by calling him a "front-runner" and adding of the winless Dolphins: "They better try to win Game 1 rather than trying to come out and fight."

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