The New York Jets have a Santonio Holmes problem, and most everyone that follows the team expects them to try to fix it in a big way tomorrow against the Buffalo Bills.
Holmes, regarded in league circles as one of the best receivers in the NFL, has been something of a disappointment this season after signing a five-year, $45 million contract extension (with $24 million guaranteed) in July. Though Holmes has not played poorly, necessarily, he still has just 22 receptions for 311 yards this season - albeit with three touchdowns, as well.
Is Holmes' lack of production a function of his not playing up to his usual standard, or does it have more to do with the Jets' general struggles offensively? One Jets fan sees a little of both.
"It is probably a bit of both," said John Butchko of GangGreenNation.com. "I think it is tough to judge a receiver solely by his stats because he can do everything right, but it does not matter unless he sees throws in his direction. Mark Sanchez has been spreading out his completions recently. Holmes is still contributing by doing stuff like drawing coverage away, as he has frequently been the focal point of defensive schemes and drawing penalties. He also had a beautiful touchdown grab against San Diego wiped out by a penalty."
Holmes brushed aside questions from media over the Jets' bye week regarding whether or not he's happy with his role in Brian Schottenheimer's offense, but there's a growing sentiment that Holmes is anxious to become more of a focal point. He should be a bigger focal point: the Jets have useful offensive skill players pretty much across the board, but Holmes is by far their most explosive playmaker. He needs to be more involved than he has been.
Even though the Bills have generally defended the pass well this season, the Jets - when they aren't trying to run the ball down Buffalo's throats, mind you - are expected to try to get Holmes involved early and often, with the goal of getting big plays and an early rhythm established for Sanchez and his top wideout.
Holmes missed the Jets' first meeting with the Bills last season, as he was serving the final game of a four-game suspension. He barely played in Week 17 while resting, as well (though he did catch a 17-yard touchdown pass in that game). As such, this will be his first extended action against Buffalo as a member of the Jets - and the Bills would do well to make sure he doesn't burn them.