Sunday notes: Santonio Holmes 'is a pain'

October, 6, 2013
10/06/13
6:00
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A few Week 5 notes before heading to Atlanta for the bright lights of ESPN's "Monday Night Football":

1. Tone's Time almost over: Back in 2010, when Rex Ryan heard there was a chance to trade for Santonio Holmes, he literally ran up the stairs to Mike Tannenbaum's office and told him to make the deal. I'm sure there have been times over the past three years when Ryan wishes he never made that crazy dash. Holmes is "a pain in the ass," as more than one person in the organization has told me over the years. There are two kinds of PIAs in sports: The kind you tolerate because of their ability to impact games and the kind you dump because the headache isn't worth the pay off. Holmes belongs to the latter group.

His latest foot-in-mouth comment ("I can't throw it to myself and catch it. Otherwise, I would") made splashy headlines. It was a dumb thing to say even though I don't think he meant it as a malicious attack against QB Geno Smith. Maybe I'm jaded because I expect one or two brushfires a year from Holmes. In three-plus seasons, he has created more controversies than 100-yard receiving days (four). His on-the-field production, more than his mouth, is the real issue.

Smith is completing only 44 percent of his passes to Holmes, 60 percent to everybody else, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Three of Smith's eight interceptions have come on targets to Holmes. Maybe he's still hampered by his surgically repaired foot. It's hard to say because you can't get a straight answer. Now he's saying he was 100 percent from Week 1. Clearly, he's not an elite receiver, but he's in the third year of an elite contract -- five years, $45 million.

Landing that deal was one of the greatest stick-ups in recent history. The late and shortened free-agency period in 2011, due to the lockout, gave him tremendous leverage. The Jets paid dearly. The guaranteed money in the deal dries up in 2014. That's when the Jets will say goodbye and good riddance. If you're a diva receiver, you'd better be a dominant diva receiver. Holmes isn't.

2. Goodson not out of woods: RB Mike Goodson served his time for Roger Goodell, a four-game suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy, but the drug and weapons charges from his May arrest still are pending. His case was sent to a Morris County (N.J.) grand jury in June, and the outcome is expected to be known "imminently," according to a source. An indictment could be handed down within a couple of weeks.

3. Costly lack of discipline: If the Jets keep racking up player fines at their current pace, owner Woody Johnson will have to cut a big check to the league office. According to the NFL's safety policy, a team is required to remit $50,000 to the league if the fine total reaches $105,000, counting the preseason. If it hits $157,000, the team has to pay another $25,000 and must match any subsequent fines for the remainder of the season.

Some fines don't become public, but this is what we've been able to compile on the Jets: Muhammad Wilkerson ($15,785), Quinton Coples ($7,875), Willie Colon ($34,125), D'Brickashaw Ferguson ($15,000), Dawan Landry ($21,000) and Matt Simms ($7,875). That's a total of $101,660.

Keep in mind, the totals can vary because the players have an opportunity to appeal. Fines can be upheld, partially upheld or rescinded. Nevertheless, after only four games, the Jets appear headed toward a stiff penalty. Unlike Ryan, Goodell doesn't accept push-ups as punishment.

4. Draft drought: Wonder why the offense is shy on playmakers? The last skill-position player drafted by the Jets to make a Pro Bowl was FB Richie Anderson. He was drafted in 1993 and made his only Pro Bowl in 2000. There you go. You can bet it'll be a focus for GM John Idzik in next spring's draft.

5. The Brady bunch: On Friday, Ryan was asked if he has considered making "Brady" the No. 2 quarterback, ahead of Matt Simms, because of his veteran presence. Ryan's response: "Tom or Quinn? Tom would be active." Funny line.

Quite frankly, I'm surprised Brady Quinn hasn't overtaken Simms for the No. 2 spot, based simply on his experience. But it's apparent from listening to Ryan and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg they have a relatively strong belief in Simms. Strong enough to play him if Smith continues to struggle? I'm on record as saying they have to ride it out with Smith, but that doesn't mean they can't give Simms some mop-up work or a chance in the second half of a game if Smith lays another egg. Never rule it out.

6. An ordinary Joe: Are the Jets down on Joe McKnight or what? The Jets are ranked 31st in kickoff-return average and 32nd in field position (average start of drive), and yet McKnight remains unemployed. They've also had issues at running back -- and McKnight remains unemployed. His well-documented problems in training camp irked the organization more than we'll ever know.

7. The Fab Five: Rookie LG Brian Winters, expected to start Monday night for Vladimir Ducasse, will become the fifth 2013 draft pick to claim a starting job. I'm not sure if CB Dee Milliner (injured) still is a starter, per se, because it's hard to figure out what's happening at right corner, but let's roll with the "five" figure. The last Jets draft to produce five starters was 2000 -- Shaun Ellis, John Abraham, Chad Pennington, Anthony Becht and Laveranues Coles. And none of them were full-time starters as rookies.

8. Chief of security: Running backs coach Anthony Lynn worked with Geno Smith all week to help with his ball-security issues. Lynn is the Jets' resident expert, and with good reason. Since 2009, when Lynn arrived, the Jets have lost only 13 fumbles on rushing attempts. That ranks 18th in the league, but that standing is deceiving because they've rushed more times over that span than any team in the league -- 2,203 attempts, according to ESPN Stats & Information. That breaks down to one lost fumble every 169 attempts. If Lynn can't fix Smith, no one can.

9. Welcome to the league, kid: All this talk about rookie quarterbacks prompted me to ask Quinn if he could recall his first game as a rookie with the Cleveland Browns (2007). Because of an injury to starter Derek Anderson, he was thrown into a game against the San Francisco 49ers. It was Dec. 30, and he recalled his feet felt like cement. His first drive ended at the 49ers' 6-yard line after back-to-back drops in the end zone. The receivers that dropped the passes? Kellen Winslow and Braylon Edwards.

10. A career with only one regret: Former DL Marty Lyons will be inducted into the Jets' Ring of Honor on Oct. 13 -- a well-deserved honor for a class act. The other day, Lyons was emotional as he reflected on his career and post-career accomplishments in the community. He harbors only one regret -- Dec. 7, 1987, the night he inadvertently ended the career of Miami Dolphins C Dwight Stephenson, a friend and former college teammate at Alabama. Stephenson, who would become a Hall of Famer, wrecked his knee when he was blocked by Lyons on a fumble return. It wasn't a low block by Lyons, but it occurred away from the play -- and that caused a furor. In some respects, it has haunted Lyons.

"You look back on your career -- college and the NFL -- and you say to yourself, 'If I could have one play back ...' That would be the play I'd want back. I didn't feel like it was a cheap shot, I just wish the result was different. ... Every now and then, you go back to Miami or Alabama, and it flares its head. Some people never let me forget that, but I also have to tell those people, 'I didn't forget it.' I don't need them to remind me. I live with it every single day."

Lyons said he cleared his conscience when he discussed it with Stephenson, who assured him it wasn't a dirty hit. The game leaves scars, not all of them physical.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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