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Palladino: Jets' Team Captain Needs More Composure

'From the Pressbox'
By Ernie Palladino
» More Ernie Palladino Columns

Ernie is the author of "Lombardi and Landry." He'll be covering football throughout the season.

Santonio Holmes picked up a dumb taunting penalty after a touchdown that tightened the Jets deficit against the Eagles to all of 28-10, costing his team 15 yards on the ensuing kickoff.

Before that, he turned the ball over twice, the Eagles converting both of those into touchdowns.

And then he came to the postgame podium after that 45-19 disaster wearing a Superman T-shirt.

If anybody could have determined where Holmes' head was at during and after the meltdown in Lincoln Financial Field, they'd have been in line for a finder's fee.

To say the least, such flippancy over a major loss like that was no way for a team captain to act. Humility at first, perhaps confidence in the Jets' ability to come back from a no-show defeat might have been the way to go. If that was too humbling for him, then silence. But brazen? Not a good direction considering all the negatives the once-clutch receiver had created that afternoon.

This is kind of the culture the Jets have created, however. It's another extension of the if-it-feels-good-do it" Summer of Love mentality that Rex Ryan has fostered on this team, where self-expression trumps all else.

Want to step on a football and flap like an Eagle after a score that put you 18 down? Sure. Why not? Wear some silly T-shirt after a calamitous loss? That's fine with Ryan.

He has his players' back, and they have his, Ryan claims. Only, acts such as Holmes' indicate that the players don't really have his back. They're out for themselves, which is all right as long as the winning continues. But Holmes was a major cause behind Sunday's loss, and his post-touchdown and post-game show indicate just how tone deaf he really is.

This is not what the 8-6 Jets want from a captain. They want leadership, like the kind Holmes showed when Mark Sanchez went to him in so many key spots last year. They need composure, especially when things are going as horribly wrong as they did in Philadelphia.

They don't need an overgrown child.

"Are we perfect?" Ryan pondered in Monday's follow-up conference call. "No, none of us are perfect. I don't think it will happen again, but again, I have his back, he has mine, and this whole team is that way. We just have to come out and fight for each other. We know it was a mistake and we'll learn from it."

Every other Jet knows it was a mistake. The question is, does Holmes know it? Really know it. He apologized to Ryan. That's a start. Keeping things cool in the end zone, especially if they're down on Saturday against the Giants and fighting to come back, will be another step in the leadership the Jets invested in with a five-year, $45 million contract.

At least he hasn't called out any more of his teammates, as he did in the early-season three-game losing streak.

He'd better change his ways soon. A loss on Christmas Eve could douse the Jets' playoff hopes. They'll still be in it mathematically, but they'd need to beat Miami and then get help from their AFC brethren to make the postseason.

Ryan, as mouthy as Holmes is foolish, stirred the pot.

"I didn't come here to be anybody's little brother," Ryan said, regarding the Giants' perception of being the established team in town. "I came here to win, to be looked at that way. And to take over not just this city, but also this league.

"I haven't accomplished that yet. Saturday, I think, will go a long way to doing that. We have to win this game, we have to get in the playoffs. And the Giants have to do the same thing. So it's going to be huge."

If Ryan can shrink Holmes' oversized bravado a bit, the Jets might be in business.

Holmes' best course of action from here on out: score a touchdown, hand the ball to the official, and be done with it. Oh, and wear a nice shirt and tie to the postgame interview.

This isn't a playground, after all.

Did Santonio take his antics too far on Sunday? Sound off below...

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