Team chemistry. Many take this for granted but it does come into play, especially in a football clubhouse. 53 men must gel and act as one so being a fly in the ointment stands out and could throw off all the continuity that a coaching staff has already put in place.
After a 3-1 start and playing the role as team harmony, the Jets hierarchy must feel as if they have enough positive qualities to quell any malcontents. A little thin at wide receiver, general manager Mike Tannenbaum has been actively working the phones trying to bring in a number one target for rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez.
During the summer, he allegedly made an inquiry about trading for Brandon Marshall of the Broncos, who did everything possible to get himself thrown off the team. The Jets were also investigating the possibility of giving Plaxico Burress a look before he was sentenced to jail time for illegal gun possession. Then the 49ers accused the Jets of tampering with their unsigned number one draft pick Michael Crabtree, who was holding out and looking for an outrageously large contract.
The latest wideout on their radar screen was Braylon Edwards of the Browns, who has never endeared himself to the fans or either of his two head coaches, Romeo Crennel and Eric Mangini. Tannenbaum had been making inquiries about the former Michigan Wolverine and finally landed him, albeit after Edwards’s latest incident when he was reported to have punched a friend of LeBron James early Monday morning outside a Cleveland nightclub.
In exchange for the mercurial receiver, the Jets sent wideout Chansi Stuckey, linebacker/special teams standout Jason Trusnick and two undisclosed draft picks, rumored to be third and fifth round selections.
“They’ve (the Jets) got a lot going on right now,” said Edwards. “(Mark) Sanchez is doing a good job as a rookie and just playing on the opposite side of Jericho Cotchery… [he] is a great receiver. I’ve watched him some time obviously being a friend of Kerry Rhodes. He makes some plays and makes things happen.”
Rex Ryan has already announced that Edwards will be in the starting line-up in the Jets next game, a Monday night affair in Miami. “He better be,” the Jets head coach said in response to a question if his new receiver will be ready. “Here we go. He’s going to be out there one way or the other.”
If he wants to endear himself to his new teammates and fans, then Edwards needs to cut down on his dropped passes. In 2008, he was ‘credited’ with 16, a number that will get him run out of town in New York. Edwards’s best year came in 2007 when he started all 16 games for the Browns and had 80 receptions for 1,289 yards and 16 touchdowns, good enough to get him named to the Pro Bowl. So far this season, he had 10 catches for 139 yards through the Browns first four games, all losses.
For Edwards to return to his form of two years ago, he needs to stay on the field. Any potential injuries aside, the NFL still needs to investigate the incident last weekend and disciplinary action could be forthcoming.
“Between all the facts we were able to gather, understanding the league policy and giving all of the information that we had, we have a good understanding of what we think happened and understanding if and when there is discipline, the timeline of that,” said Tannenbaum. “Given all of those variables, as best we could factored into that decision, we were comfortable making the decision that we did.”
Edwards certainly has a bigger upside and the trade was one that – if he produces – will be viewed as a steal. It is entirely up to him. If he becomes a distraction, then it was a gamble not worth taking.
A fresh start as far as coaching goes didn’t work for Edwards in Cleveland. Will it work in New York? We will find out in the coming weeks.