Rex Ryan's Challenge: Chemistry Issues in the Locker Room

Pete ShoenContributor IApril 28, 2010

INDIANAPOLIS - JANUARY 24:  Rex Ryan, head coach of the New York Jets, throws a pass during warm-ups before playing against the Indianapolis Colts during the AFC Championship Game at Lucas Oil Stadium on January 24, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

With the arrival of former Jets-hater Jason Taylor, some Jets fans like myself are getting concerned about if there are too many big names—some troubled—in the locker room.

It sure has been a big departure from the Eric Mangini era. Back in the day—well, actually only two years ago—the Jets were all about having the right guys. Good character guys who were ready to work and take care of business. It was Mangini’s way, just look what is going on in Cleveland right now, he is doing the same thing.

But just two years later, the Jets clearly have a new, different philosophy.

Last year, they brought in Braylon Edwards fresh off of a bar fight with LeBron’s posse. This offseason, they traded for Antonio Cromartie, who is on pace to have 50 kids in 50 states.

They also traded for Santonio Holmes, fresh off of a drug charge that got him a four-game suspension.  And now Taylor, who back in his Dolphin days, would have challenged Fireman Ed to a fight.  

But it isn’t just whom they are bringing in, but whom they are showing the door.

They let Jay Feely sign with the Cardinals. Feely, despite being the kicker, was a good voice in the locker room. They let go of Thomas Jones, who was coming off a huge year, but a down playoffs—he was a well-known leader for the Jets.  

And in a whirlwind of a draft, the Jets traded Leon Washington and released Alan Faneca. Two more pillars in the locker room that have been crumbled and swept away by the front office.

Now lets be clear, I agree with some of these moves. I mean Holmes for a fifth-round pick, that is a steal and he clearly upgrades our wide receivers and entire offense.

The Jets had a great draft, and Faneca and Washington both could have had significant down years for the Jets as Faneca is getting older and Washington is coming off of a horrific leg injury.

Finally, Jones was definitely not going to be the No. 1 back for the Jets, Shonn Greene showed he clearly is the man for the job. The front office made some shrewd moves.

But this article is about chemistry issues and locker room presence.

Is LaDainian Tomlinson really better than Jones for the same amount of money? LT has been declining for years. Why wouldn’t you just keep Jones for his locker room presence and leadership?

And with Faneca, does $2.5 million really mean that much to the Jets that they couldn’t keep the No. 1 offensive line intact for one more year? Worst comes to worst, Faneca could have been a great mentor for new starter Vlad Ducasse.

We saw locker room issues derail the Dallas Cowboys a few years back, another big-market team that loaded up. What is stopping the Jets from being the next team to make the exact same mistake? Especially with all the players getting a platform on the HBO show Hard Knocks this summer.

Rex Ryan is the answer. Once GM Mike Tannenbaum saw what Ryan was capable of last year, he had no problem going out to get guys with personal problems and no problem letting go of the big voices in the locker room, because Ryan is the biggest of them all.

On Hard Knocks , there is no doubt Ryan is going to talk the most and be the headliner for every show. He’s a headline machine, did you see when he gave an entire Miami MMA arena the finger?

He’s the complete opposite of Eric Mangini, Ryan is confident in his ability to rally the troops and be the fearless leader in the locker room. And with last year’s results, who can blame Tannenbaum for believing him, and anyone else for that matter.

Ryan will have a little help of course—Bart Scott, Jim Leonhard, Darelle Revis, Nick Mangold, Kris Jenkins, etc.—all are leaders in the locker room.

There’s also the little fact that Ryan is a defensive genius with the No. 1 defense at his will. And I’m sure Brian Schottenheimer is looking forward to playing with his new toys on offense.

The Jets were a team that bonded together to make an improbable playoff run last year. I get the feeling, based on the moves the Jets are making this offseason, that they are looking for more this year.

Rex and Co. are absolutely capable of doing it and have the fan base, including me, really excited. There is a lot of pressure to win this season and if the Jets can pull it off, Ryan will be royalty in New York.

But if they fail to make the big game because of locker room troubles a la Dallas Cowboys, it will all fall on big Rex’s belly, I mean shoulders.


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