Jets playmaker Holmes at home with ball in hands
Santonio Holmes could count on two fingers the number of times he saw a pass come his way last Sunday at Oakland.
The playmaking wide receiver knows that's not enough. And so do the rest of the New York Jets.
''You guys know I always say this: I want guys that want the ball,'' offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said. ''We have huge plays and huge packages in for Santonio. You've got to give the Raiders some credit with some of the things that they did to take him away.''
But by their own admission, the Jets didn't do enough to get him involved.
''Watching the film and seeing the little things that weren't done right during the game plan last week,'' Holmes said, ''we'll find a way to get it corrected this week.''
Holmes had one catch - a 19-yard grab on a third-down play - in the opening quarter on New York's first scoring drive. That was it, though. Mark Sanchez threw for a career-high 369 yards in the 34-24 loss, but Holmes was a non-factor.
''I knew he was frustrated,'' Schottenheimer said, ''and I get that.''
Holmes, tied for third on the team with 10 catches, said after the game that the Jets need to be able to adjust better on the fly to what opposing defenses do - such as when the Raiders switched from man-to-man to zone coverage. It was an assertion that Schottenheimer didn't dispute.
''We had hit kind of a stale spot,'' Schottenheimer said. ''There were clearly some things that I wish we probably would've recognized as a staff quicker. Tone is a huge part of what we do. He's a guy that we want to get the ball to. I feel like every week when I walk in there, there's going to be a guy that's disappointed, didn't get enough balls. That doesn't bother me. I want guys like that.''
The Jets have a few of them with Holmes, Plaxico Burress and Derrick Mason, not to mention tight end Dustin Keller and running back LaDainian Tomlinson. But, Holmes expects to be more active Sunday at Baltimore. After all, he has 35 career catches in nine games against the Ravens, including at least one touchdown in each of his last seven.
''Hopefully, Sanchez and Schotty realize that putting the ball in my hands, I can definitely make a big difference,'' Holmes said. ''I'm pretty sure the defense is going to be more afraid if I touch the ball more than two times. They're going to be satisfied if I don't touch it at all.''
It's not that Holmes is unhappy or selfish. This isn't Keyshawn Johnson demanding the ball. Holmes simply understands what needs to happen for the Jets to be successful on offense. He is a dynamic and game-changing presence, a former Super Bowl MVP with the Steelers who helped lead the Jets to wins in three consecutive weeks last season because of huge plays.
''Tone has been really clutch for us,'' fullback John Conner said. ''It's a team sport and a team game so we need to spread the ball around to other people, but obviously, we've got to get the ball into his hands because he's the playmaker.''
Need a big-time catch? Rex Ryan says that means it's ''Tone Time,'' and that hasn't changed. Sure, Holmes wants the ball in key situations, and Ryan doesn't blame him.
''It's funny, but every great player has that kind of mentality,'' Ryan said. ''You look at basketball. Game's on the line, who shoots it? Well, you want every hand to (go up). You want all of the teammates to go, `OK, if it can't be me, we want him to shoot it.' I think we want him to catch it. That's kind of how I look at Tone.
''He's a big-time guy. Whether he says it to you or not, we're mindful of it, there's no doubt.''
When the Jets signed Burress and then Mason this summer after making bringing Holmes back their top offseason priority, many wondered if there would be enough balls to go around. Each of the three have taken turns being the odd man out - Mason had three catches in the opener and one against Dallas, while Burress had none in the game against the Cowboys.
''We go in with our plan,'' Schottenheimer said. ''You don't want to see Plax get shut out the week before. Sometimes it happens. The main thing we're concerned about is not stats, it's winning games.''
But more often than not, having Holmes heavily involved has led to victories in his short time with the Jets. He's a team captain this season, and what he says carries weight with the other players and the coaching staff.
''There have been times where he has gone to the coaches and been like, `We need to run the ball more,''' Conner said. ''That's just him being unselfish on his part and seeing what's going to help the team. You can tell he's full of confidence. I wouldn't say cocky, but confident. He's just a team player.''