New York Jets  

 

Jets shouldn't read too much into win over punchless Dolphins

  • By Jeff Darlington NFL.com
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Marching out to the middle of the field for all of MetLife Stadium to see, Jets teammates Santonio Holmes and Brandon Moore joined each other as anointed honorary captains for Monday night's pregame coin toss.

It was a display of unity. Supposed proof to an impatient home crowd that everything is going to be OK. A wordless message intended to paint a sunny picture that a week of locker room dissension has been dissolved.

"That was awesome," said quarterback Mark Sanchez, riding a rush of euphoria after his team snapped a three-game skid. "And I think (Holmes and Moore) won the toss, right? Did we win the toss? We sure did. I told you. They're good friends."

At the risk of crashing the party, there was still just a weird lingering vibe to all of it. The pre-game scene itself -- and the post-game reaction that followed -- felt like almost as much a facade as the 24-6 win over the Dolphins that occurred in between. That's not a knock against the Jets, either. In some weird way, if the team responds correctly, it might be the opposite.

After a week when Holmes' continued criticism of the offensive line caused Moore (a veteran guard) to publicly denounce his teammate for the comments, New York's night against Miami provided a very necessary bandage to an open wound.

"We needed a win in the worst way," coach Rex Ryan said.

They got it. That's what matters most.

So if Ryan, in his trademark fashion, wanted to also set the tone with a cute (albeit manufactured) message by sending out Moore and Holmes as captains, that's perfectly fine, too. Heck, it's good public relations.

But it's going to be just as critical to continue to treat their current situation -- both on and off the field -- as meticulously as possible. Pretending Monday's win ends all of this would be nothing short of naïve.

The good news? The team sounds as if it made significant progress leading into Monday's game as it dealt with the locker room expectations and issues. Darrelle Revis said the conversations were constructive and necessary.

"We talked about it this week," he said about the internal rifts that also reportedly led to a separate decision to trade away outspoken wide receiver Derrick Mason. "It's just for everybody to understand that we're in this together. You know, sometimes things might come out of just frustration or whatever.

"Nobody likes to lose on this team. When you're not used to losing three straight, things might get a little rocky sometimes."

With the locker room stabilized for the time being, the Jets can now focus on the issue that started this whole thing in the first place: The play on the field.

The Jets were fortunate to catch the Dolphins on their schedule when they did, especially since quarterback Matt Moore's debut as the team's starter created plenty of mishaps for New York to capitalize on. It allowed them to overcome some remaining offensive deficiencies, most vividly displayed by their inability to convert a first down until 5:33 remained in the second quarter.

Even as the Dolphins struggled to finish drives, the Jets' offense did little to capitalize against one of the league's worst pass defenses. Sanchez completed just 7 of 12 passes in the first half for 84 yards.

"You have to give them credit," Ryan said. "They had an extra week. That's a good, talented defense over there. We knew it wasn't going to be easy. We knew they were going to come out inspired, and they did.

"It just took us a little time, but once we get going, we're hard to stop."

Maybe that's true. Maybe it speaks to the Jets' season in general. Once they get going, as they've proven on their playoff runs each of the last two years, they're most certainly tough to stop.

This win, however, was not a statement game despite a score that might suggest otherwise. It was instead a successful evening that kept the Jets from spiraling into potential despair. And really, given the drama of the last two weeks, that's enough.

True, this win doesn't suggest the Jets are beyond their woes. Nobody, not Ryan nor Sanchez, said such. They did survive another week, leading into an important game against the 4-1 San Diego Chargers that could get them back above .500.

"We got a win," Sanchez said. "That's all we needed. These guys are winners, so they were frustrated. So what? They want to win. When we're not winning, everybody is upset. But the guys did a heck of a job."

In other words: Move along, Sanchez was saying. Nothing to see here.

We'll soon find out whether he's right.

Follow Jeff Darlington on Twitter @jeffdarlington

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