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Trade for Holmes just latest in long line of bold moves by Jets

It turns out that bold, as the New York Jets define it, isn't merely about a head coach who trash talks with opposing players or gives the middle finger to opposing fans.

Behold their ever-growing list of aggressive/risky moves this offseason.

And Santonio Holmes isn't just any player. He's a Super Bowl MVP. He's the sort of highly talented wide receiver that could do plenty to help Mark Sanchez thrive as a second-year quarterback.

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Holmes also is the kind of guy, apparently, that the Jets' hierarchy firmly believes that Rex Ryan can handle.

I'm inclined to agree with that sentiment.

Ryan's hard-edged, lead-with-the-chin approach is not an act. He is a genuine tough guy who knows how to handle difficult personalities. He can reach them in ways that other coaches can't, with the right words and actions spoken and taken at the right times. Ryan's gift is convincing all of his players -- but especially the so-called outcasts -- that even though the outside world might be against them, they have a sanctuary on the inside. He gets them to fully buy into the team concept and his aggressive, take-no-prisoners mentality.

This isn't to suggest that the Jets are making a concerted effort to put together a roster of misfits. If they're going to invite a headache into their locker room, that headache had better have the ability to play exceptionally well.

Braylon Edwards, the receiver the Jets picked up from Cleveland last year, falls into that category. So does Antonio Cromartie, the cornerback they got from the San Diego last month.

Cromartie gives the Jets something that they never could have expected to add if he were a model citizen -- a shutdown cornerback to complement perhaps the NFL's best player at the position, Darrelle Revis. And as long as Cromartie is able to stay out of trouble and stay focused on what the Jets are paying him to do -- with Ryan providing the necessary guidance and control that he's expected to provide -- he and they will be fine.

The Jets actually have a chance to be much better than fine. After reaching the AFC Championship Game, they could very well have taken the necessary steps to take the next step -- to the Super Bowl.

Of course, the Jets aren't going to have their newest receiver on the field for a full season. Holmes, whose repeated bad behavior prompted the Pittsburgh Steelers to let him go for the bargain-basement price of a fifth-round draft pick, faces a four-game suspension. Still, 12 games give him more than enough time to make an enormous impact.

For very different reasons, the Jets went out on a limb with their free-agent signing of another former Charger, LaDainian Tomlinson. They said good-bye to veteran Thomas Jones, their leading rusher in 2009 and a player who was well liked and respected by his teammates, in what was perceived as a cost-cutting decision. Then, they turned around and made a larger investment at the position in a player who was less productive in '09 and is well into the twilight of his career.

It is clear that Jets management is counting on Ryan's leadership to provide the necessary credibility to prevent the acquisition of Tomlinson from being too much of a sore spot with Jones' former teammates. Tomlinson will obviously need to produce, as will second-year back Shonn Greene.

But Ryan can go a long way toward helping to make a smooth transition for Tomlinson by enlisting him to reinforce his us-and-the-world mentality. You can be certain that Ryan had no problem with Tomlinson recently taking some parting shots at his former team. You can be certain that the coach has gone out of his way to remind the running back that his new team will give him the love and respect that his old team stopped showing him.

Could the Jets' approach to this offseason backfire? Absolutely.

As we saw with Peyton Manning's surgical dismembering of Ryan's blitz-happy defense in the AFC title game, there is a downside to taking so many chances. A poor start to the 2010 season, or any prolonged losing stretch or stretches, could very well result in an unraveling that no one can reverse. Not even Ryan.

But when you're as close as the Jets were to the mountain top and when you're looking to sell those pricey PSLs for a new stadium, you take on talented players with baggage. And when Rex Ryan is your coach, you trust that he'll be able to make it work.

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