In the wake of some very ugly finger-pointing after the season, several New York Jets veterans are trying to find ways to improve team chemistry.
Starting left guard Matt Slauson recently learned about the possible team bonding activities while talking to members of the Jets’ developmental department.
Slauson has not spoken to fellow players about the activities, but he welcomed anything that would help bring the team closer after the drama following an 8-8 season.
”Absolutely we are all focusing on next year now,” Slauson said Thursday after attending a news conference to announce that WrestleMania would be held at MetLife Stadium in 2013. ”We’re not worried about all of that drama that happened last year. We are focusing on next year and getting better and doing what we can to get in the Super Bowl.”
After reaching the AFC title game in 2009 and ’10, the Jets were one of the preseason favorites to make the Super Bowl this season. However, the team was inconsistent and missed the playoffs for the first time in Rex Ryan’s three seasons as coach.
It got ugly after that.
Fans and the media criticized quarterback Mark Sanchez, and then some teammates and members of the organization anonymously questioned Sanchez’s work ethic and leadership abilities in a Daily News story in early January.
Veteran running back LaDainian Tomlinson later said the Jets’ locker room was as troubled as any he’d ever seen, adding that the problems got ”out-of-hand toward the end of the season,” and were created by the brash approach of Ryan and general manager Mike Tannenbaum.
It’s a problem that needs mending if the Jets are to get back on track next season.
”I have been talking to some guys about if we are going to do some team-building stuff and there are guys brainstorming right now,” Slauson said of his conversations with the guys in the developmental department. ”But there is nothing official now.”
Slauson also disclosed Thursday at a news conference at the home of the Giants and Jets that he played this past season with a torn labrum, rotator cuff and biceps in his left shoulder. He has had surgery to repair them and expects to be ready for the season despite a projected six-month rehabilitation period.
A sixth-round draft pick out of Nebraska in 2009, Slauson has been the starting guard the past two seasons. He believes he hurt his shoulder in December 2010 in a game against the Patriots.
”I thought it was no big deal, the fact that I could play and still lift, kind of, I didn’t think it was a big deal or anything was wrong,” he said.
Slauson attended the news conference with teammates Donald Strickland, Kyle Wilson and Muhammad Wilkerson, and owner Woody Johnson. The Super Bowl champion Giants were represented by co-owner John Mara, long snapper Zak DeOssie and tackle David Diehl.
Slauson said watching the cross-town rival Giants win the NFL title against the Jets’ other major rival, the Patriots, was weird.
”That’s the cost of things,” he said. ”You don’t play well throughout the entire year you are not going to make it there. The Giants did a phenomenal job. Every team’s goal is, whether they say it or not, their goal is to be in the Super Bowl. That’s our goal and we fell short, but we are all excited about next year.”
While it’s been nice enjoying the Super Bowl victory, DeOssie said the Giants realize that their offseason program starts in two months. He also noted that keeping the team together might not be possible.
”The reality is this is the NFL and guys move on and some guys stay,” DeOssie said. ”I certainly do wish it’s the exact same team, but I know that is not going to happen.”
Diehl came to the new conference with a bandage on his left hand. He had six screws inserted to fix a broken finger following the Super Bowl.
”I’ll be all good,” said Diehl, who started the first 10 games at left guard and the last 10 at left tackle after Will Beatty had surgery to repair a detached retina. ”I’m happy. This is the time to heal up and rest, anyway. I’m looking forward to getting started again and getting rolling here pretty soon.”