Greg McElroy had a unique perspective, watching things unravel around the Jets while rehabbing a dislocated right thumb that ended his season in September.
"It's definitely not a fun place to be, I can assure you," the rookie quarterback said Wednesday on a Birmingham, Ala., radio station "It's the first time I've ever been around extremely selfish individuals, but I think that's maybe the nature of the NFL. But there were people within our locker room that didn't care if we won or lost, as long as they had their good [individual] games, and that's the disappointing thing."
The Jets' 8-8 season flamed out in Sunday's season-ending loss to the Dolphins, when wide receiver Santonio Holmes was pulled off the field in the closing minutes by offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer in part because teammates believed Holmes had quit and didn't like his body language.
"It's going to take a lot to come together next year," he said, "and I think the fact that we struggled this year really led to a corrupt mind-set within the locker room. But I think we are going to regroup and I know we'll be a better team because of the trials and tribulations this year."
General manager Mike Tannenbaum, speaking to Mike Francesa on WFAN Wednesday, once again said the Jets should have done more to address the chemistry problems. But he disputed McElroy's description of the locker room.
"We knew there were issues during the season and we didn't get it done," Tannenbaum said. "We thought we addressed some of them, but we didn't do a good enough job and that manifested itself in the huddle this past Sunday. We have to do a better job, Santonio has to do a better job. And we will.
He added: "But I don't think we have a corrupt locker room."
However, McElroy, who won the 2010 national championship at Alabama under Nick Saban, believes the me-first approach of some players cost the Jets a legitimate shot at the Lombardi Trophy.
"Quite frankly, if you go down the roster, there's no reason we shouldn't have made a Super Bowl run," McElroy said. "The talent top to bottom is pretty remarkable and that's the disappointing thing . . . It doesn't matter how much talent you have, if you don't come together as a group and figure things out and withstand the difficulties of the season, you are never going to amount to anything.
"Coach Saban preached that over and over again, and I think this is probably the first time it's ever applied, because we had people that refused to buy in, and I don't know if those people are going to be here next year."
Notes & quotes: Tannenbaum on Mark Sanchez: "His rate of growth isn't where it needs to be, but I think the trajectory of his career after three years is . . . Do I think he's going to be Peyton Manning or Tom Brady or Drew Brees? Obviously, that would be hard to say as of today. But I do think we can win a lot of games with Mark as our quarterback." . . . CBS studio analyst and former Jets QB Boomer Esiason said of Sanchez on Boston's WEEI: "If you watched Mark Sanchez the last month of the season, he was like a Chihuahua standing on 36th Street entering the Midtown Tunnel, eyes bigger than you know what, and just so shaky."