Rex Ryan and the Jets pride themselves on doing things their own way so it may have come as a surprise to many when they decided to appoint team Captains for the 2011 season for the first time in franchise history.
Following the direction of so many other NFL teams who have found success calling on certain members of the team to step and lead, the Jets appointed 6 veteran players to the position of Captain in an attempt to provide the team with some brotherhood, leadership, and guidance; hopefully achieving some of the success for themselves.
The experiment didn’t seem to work. The Jets didn’t make the playoffs after reaching the AFC Championship game the previous two years, there were numerous reports of locker room spats among players, and even two of the Captains, Mark Sanchez and Santonio Holmes, had a very public, very bitter war of words. Team chemistry and morale was at an all time low. Now in an effort to re-promote team solidarity, Rex Ryan has decided to go back to the way things were and do away with any sort of team Captain.
If the idea was to shake things up in the locker room, it seems like the new decision has been taken in stride. In fact, players appear almost happy with the decision, feeling very confident there are many players on the team who are capable of stepping up and leading, not just those appointed.
Says recently removed Captain Brandon Moore, “You guys in the media like to anoint leaders, but there’s people here every day who are veterans, starters who are leading by example, helping a young guy, setting the tempo, leading by doing his job at a high level or limiting his [mental errors] or running to the next drill. That’s leadership. If that’s the case, a lot of guys are doing that.”
Another former team Captain, Sione Pouha feels the same way. “The real emblem is not the ‘C’ (referring to the Captain’s patch on a uniform), it’s the team name on the front of your jersey,” Pouha said. “It doesn’t affect us in any way. We know we’re all here to help each other. We all stand in one line and march together.”
Perhaps it was just a case of their being so many natural-born leaders on the team it wasn’t beneficial to try to single out a couple of them. Maybe doing so did leave other strong personalities in the locker room feeling uninspired and unmotivated. But seeing as so many other teams thrive with appointed Captains, it may not have been the concept that was bad but rather the choices of whom the Captains of the team were supposed to be. And just like always, we look to Rex Ryan as the one who makes those decisions. And if he is still your chief decision maker, I don’t think whether having Captains or not is your biggest problem.