Commentary

Jets talent struggling to jell on offense

The return of Santonio Holmes has yet to produce the big-play offense for Gang Green

Updated: November 3, 2010, 9:31 AM ET
By Rich Cimini | ESPNNewYork.com

When Santonio Holmes returned from his four-game drug suspension, the New York Jets talked excitedly about the possibilities on offense. There were "sky's the limit" quotes from all corners of the locker room, including this Rex-like boast from Mark Sanchez:

"It will be big-play by committee."

Oh, really?

[+] EnlargeSantonio Holmes
AP Photo/ Ed AndrieskiSantonio Holmes has just 10 catches in three games this season.
In three games with Holmes, the offense has produced a grand total of four touchdowns and Sanchez has slipped significantly after a wonderful start. One more stinker like Sunday's 9-0 loss to the Green Bay Packers, and it might be time to break out the "sky is falling" quotes.

Is it a mere coincidence, Holmes' return and the decline of the Jets' offense? That's a tough one to explain. There's no question that Holmes upgrades the overall talent level, and more talent is supposed to be a good thing, but something is amiss because the whole is less than the sum of its parts.

Sanchez' performance has suffered, perhaps because he's too preoccupied with trying to distribute to ball evenly to Holmes and Braylon Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery and Dustin Keller, et al. Consider his pre-Holmes numbers versus his with-Holmes numbers:

Before: Eight touchdown passes, no interceptions, 59 percent completion rate, 105.3 passer rating.

With: One touchdown, four interceptions, 48 percent and 54.4 rating.

This isn't to suggest that Holmes is the root of the problem, although he was part of it Sunday, but his addition to the offense has changed the dynamic. Clearly, offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer hasn't figured out a way to make it work -- yet.

"We have so much talent and we have so much availability for different guys to succeed," Edwards said. "Right now, it's about us being able to harness that."

The burden falls on Schottenheimer and Sanchez, whom Rex Ryan likens to a point guard -- the distributor. Easy job, right? Well, maybe for a seasoned quarterback, but Sanchez has only 22 starts on his resume, and he's still learning. Ryan hinted that perhaps Sanchez is trying too hard to appease his weapons.

"Just hit the open guy and don't worry about forcing it to this guy or that guy because human nature is you want to keep everybody happy," Ryan said. "We've got to throw it to the open guy. Let the coaches handle the play calling."

Over the past three games, Sanchez's No. 1 target has been Cotchery (30 targets), followed by Edwards (23), Holmes (20) and Keller (17). Holmes' presence is having the biggest impact on Keller, who is getting fewer looks than he did in the season's first four games.

On paper, it's an impressive collection of talent. In fact, the Jets and the Baltimore Ravens are the only teams with three wide receivers that boast a 1,000-yard season on each of their resumes. There's no such thing as having too many weapons; it's knowing how to utilize them that's the trick.

Gather No Moss

The Jets remained tight-lipped Tuesday on whether they have any plans to submit a waiver claim for WR Randy Moss, but it's highly unlikely. Teams have until 4 p.m. Wednesday to do so. Advice to Jets: Stay away, stay far away. But wouldn't it be something if he winds up with one of the Jets' opponents? Anybody up for Moss-Darrelle Revis, part III?

Retirement Talk

Jason Taylor, responding to a weekend report on ProFootballTalk.com that he's planning to retire after the season, told a couple of New York-area newspaper reporters that the story was garbage. If he has a few more games like he did Sunday, the Jets might make the decision for him. Unofficially, he played 38 snaps, but recorded only one assisted tackle and made no impact as a pass-rusher.

Taylor, 36, is second on the team with three sacks, needing seven to trigger a $750,000 guarantee for 2011. The prediction here: There's a better chance of him joining a reunion tour for "Dancing with the Stars" than returning to the Jets.

Jets miss Woodhead

In case you were keeping score over the weekend: Danny Woodhead, six points; Jets, zero.

The former Jets running back, waived by the team because it didn't want to admit it made a mistake by drafting Joe McKnight in the fourth round, is carving quite a niche for himself with the New England Patriots. He already has three touchdowns in a part-time role.

"We call those guys 'playmakers,'" New England RB coach Ivan Fears said Tuesday on a conference call. "Those guys have that. That's why they're on the field. ... Randy Moss is one of the best deep threats in the history of the NFL. Danny has the little knack about him. He knows how to make things happen when he has the ball in his hands. That's what attracted us to the guy. He hasn't let us down. Boy, he hasn't let us down one bit."

That has to eat at the Jets.

Bye the bye

One general manager on the Jets' chances this week against the Detroit Lions: "I'd bet the house on the Jets." The GM said the Jets were in a post-bye funk against the Packers, suggesting that Ryan mishandled the bye week by giving the team a full week off.

"Me, I'd never do that," said the GM, speaking on the condition of anonymity. "The players get too familiar with life again. That's not good. You want to keep them in a routine."

This and that

The Jets didn't audition any punters Tuesday, according to a source -- you know, just in case you were wondering if they'd try to scare Steve Weatherford, he of the fourth-and-18 brain cramp. … The Jets' draft class made zero impact Sunday. No. 1 pick Kyle Wilson, who keeps getting demoted, had no role on defense. G Vladimir Ducasse (No. 2) and McKnight (No. 4) were inactive. FB John Conner (No. 5) was the only contributor. … Against the Packers, the Jets took a relatively conservative approach on defense and it worked. Unofficially, they sent five or more rushers on only 32 percent of the pass plays, about 20 percent below their league-leading average. Facing three- and four-receiver packages, the Jets emphasized coverage over pressure. Blitzing isn't always the answer. … On Sunday, the Jets will face one of the top receivers in the league, Calvin Johnson -- aka Megatron. Former teammate Roy Williams is credited with the nickname, but Jets RT Damien Woody disagreed. "I gave him the Megatron name," said Woody, a Lion from 2004 to 2007. Woody said he's never seen a receiver as big and fast as Johnson.

Rich Cimini covers the Jets for ESPNNewYork.com. Follow him on Twitter.

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Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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