Now it's official: The New York Jets' locker room is fractured.
Veteran guard Brandon Moore, had a problem with Santonio Holmes' latest criticism of the offensive line, and decided to fire back at the wide receiver Friday, telling ESPN New York that Holmes is creating a rift by throwing teammates under the bus.
"He's obviously got the green light to evaluate every position on the team," Moore said. "I just didn't think captaincy entailed that. I've never seen a captain do that. That's not leading. That's not being a leader. It actually fragments the locker room. It's not productive."
Moore, the longest-tenured player on the Jets' sputtering offense, is regarded as one of the quiet leaders on the team. That he decided to speak out against Holmes is an indication of the current state of team chemistry.
"Obviously, it's OK to do that," said Moore, alluding to Rex Ryan's freedom-of-speech policy. "This organization lets you say whatever you want. There's no muzzle. But as a professional, there are some things you do muzzle. I've muzzled my mouth numerous times. It's called being a pro. It's called taking care of your brothers in the locker room, the guys who fight for each other."
On Thursday, Holmes called out the offensive line for the second time in two weeks, saying the line is the root of the unit's problems. He made critical remarks after the Jets' Week three loss to the Baltimore Ravens, and he followed that up Thursday, by saying, "I may be criticized again for saying it, but it starts up front. The big guys know it. If they give Mark (Sanchez) enough time to sit in the pocket and complete passes, I think everything changes."
Now the big guys are ticked off. Guard Matt Slauson declined to comment on Holmes' remarks.
Center Nick Mangold had this to say: "Santonio's very competitive. He's a great guy, a good teammate. And a lot of times that competitiveness, that drive to do well and do great, it happens. It's just one of those things you move on, you don't worry about it too much."
The other two starting linemen didn't show up in the locker room during the media period.
Moore was asked if others share his sentiment.
"I don't know, some guys might side with (Holmes), that attitude of, 'I'm doing everything right and the blame goes on everybody else.' I'm sure guys are thinking like that, the selfish guys."
Asked if he's upset, Moore said: "Yeah, I am. I've just never seen anything like this."
Ryan refused to criticize Holmes for his latest shots, saying he doesn't like to restrict players from speaking their mind. He also suggested that Holmes' comments were taken out of context.
"I'm as guilty as anybody, sometimes when you make comments, maybe things aren't interpreted exactly how they show up on black and white," Ryan said. "The thing I can tell you about Santonio is...nobody is more supportive of his teammates than Santonio. These comments, you can interpret them any way you want. I don't think he planned on it being a negative, how it came out." Ryan said he doesn't think his offensive linemen were bothered by the comment. "No," the coach said, "they've got skin like an armadillo."
Moore was obviously bothered, however, with the comments and the fact that Holmes was allowed to utter them.
"Somebody at the top is telling him it's OK," Moore said. Turning sarcastic, he added, "He's the captain. If that's how the captain feels about things, that's the psyche of the offense, I guess. Everybody takes their marching orders from that."
Before the season, Ryan named Holmes and Sanchez the team's offensive captains. The Jets re-signed Holmes to a five-year, $45 million contract before training camp.
Moore said it was "the fourth or fifth time" that Holmes criticized a segment of the offense. He mentioned the AFC Championship Game in Pittsburgh, when Holmes criticized offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer.
This latest back-and-forth between Holmes and Moore comes at the worst time for the Jets (2-3), who are mired in a three-game losing streak. On Tuesday, they traded team leader and wide receiver Derrick Mason to the Houston Texans, a move that wasn't popular among his fellow receivers.
The embattled Schottenheimer downplayed the sniping in the locker room, saying, "The team is a family and families have disagreements." He said the offense has "a great relationship,"expressing confidence that the players will resolve their differences.
Schottenheimer said he's planning to address the situation with the entire offense saying,"Absolutely. Whether it's done in public or whether it's done in private, these are things we'll keep in-house. But this group will be ready to go Monday night, I have no questions about that."
The Jets' notoriety in the media since the onset of the Ryan Era in New York is no surprise. Whether it's Rex's annual Super Bowl guarantee or the overwhelming personalities and star power of players like Darrelle Revis and Bart Scott, the Jets can't seem to stay out of the media spotlight.
I understand that staying out of the media spotlight might be hard being that they're the New York Jets, but if I may, I'd like to offer a bit of advice to the Jets.
You're (2-3). Despite all of your talent on paper and the hype surrounding your team every year, you're still (2-3) which places you third in what is a very competitive AFC East. Instead of giving out soundbites to the media like
Halloween candy, spend some time amongst yourselves and resolve your issues because it's clearly obvious that there are still some lingering.
First step towards recovery: Holmes can make up for his comments, whether taken out of context or not, by treating the 'big guys' to a meal at those exclusive NYC restaurants.