The 2011 NFL season was a nightmare for Jets talented but troubled wide out Santonio Holmes.
As if missing out on the playoffs wasn’t punishment enough, Holmes’ watched the waning moments of the Jets season from the bench after fighting in the huddle with offensive lineman Brandon Moore during the team’s Week 17 loss to the Miami Dolphins.
Holmes, whose off-the-field issues culminated in the Pittsburgh Steelers shipping him to New York, enjoyed a fantastic first season in Green and White despite missing four-games due to violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.
Head coach Rex Ryan coined the phrase ‘Tone Time’ to described the receiver’s propensity for taking over games and willing his team to victory. While Holmes’ clutch performance and knack for the game-changing play has never been in doubt, his attitude and ability to assume a leadership role has certainly raised eyebrows.
Prior to the start of last season, Ryan named Holmes offensive captain with the hope that he would rally teammates to finally get over the hump and reach the Super Bowl.
Ironically, Ryan’s approach backfired as Holmes, frustrated by his role on the offense, began to challenge the coaching staff and get under the skin of fellow teammates.
Instead of the companionship and camaraderie that Ryan hoped to promote, resentment and discord pervaded the Jets locker room.
New York’s season was in shambles and Holmes became a punching bag for fans, the media and teammates.
Currently, Holmes joined quarterback Mark Sanchez, tight end Dustin Keller and fellow wide out Patrick Turner at Disney’s Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Fla. Even though it appears the receiver’s relationship with teammates is on the mend, he will have to reestablish trust and respect with the Jets coaches and personnel.
With the ground and pound attack returning to New York in the form of newly acquired Wildcat quarterback Tim Tebow, Holmes will face the possibility of even less attention on offense.
While Holmes contends that he is on the same page with teammates, only time will tell whether his emotions will boil over as they did a season ago.
If the Jets aim to return to the playoffs next season, they’ll have to find a way to keep their star receiver engaged. Ryan will have to work his motivational magic if he hopes to transform one of the most divisive locker rooms in the league into a true championship contender.