Since Rex Ryan became head coach of the New York Jets back in 2009, the Jets have been one of the few teams in the NFL that have not used full-time team captains on a regular basis.
Rather than putting a captain’s “C” on the jerseys of a few prominent players each season, Ryan has instead rotated captains on a weekly basis.
A variety of factors such as a player’s performance at practice that week, or even a player’s history with an opponent and/or host city in road games can go into Ryan’s decision as to who will be his captain(s) any given week.
At times last season, as few as one player and as many as seven have had the weekly honor of being named team captain and going out to mid-field for the pre-game coin toss.
However, this season Ryan has decided to switch it up a bit, and has named full-time team captains for the first time in his young head coaching career. Some teams elect captains based on player votes, but that was not the case for the Jets this year.
While he won’t rule out continuing the use of game-by-game captains this season, the captain’s “C” patch will be on the jersey of five players this year, two each representing the offense and defense and one representing special teams.
“We’ll bring different guys in each week, but those guys will be our permanent captains. It was not voted on,” coach Ryan said. “This is something I chose and I chose these guys based on what I see on the practice field, the game field, the classroom and their leadership, what they mean to their units, the pride and everything else.”
Quarterback Mark Sanchez and wide receiver Santonio Holmes will be team captains representing the offense. Holmes, who signed a five-year deal to remain with the Jets this offseason, is the only remaining receiver of the Jets’ top four wide receivers from last season.
“I expect the last jersey he’ll ever wear will be a New York Jets jersey,” Ryan said. “I see ‘Tone as a guy that took the challenge that I gave him. I want him to lead from the front, and that’s what he’s doing.”
The 27-year-old Holmes was acquired in a trade with the Pittsburgh Steelers last April, and is the only Jets captain who was not originally drafted by the team. He was the 25th overall pick of the 2006 draft out of The Ohio State University.
Sanchez, the 5th overall pick out of USC in 2009, has enjoyed unprecedented success in his first two seasons, winning four road playoff games in his young career.
He has taken great strides during this offseason as well, setting up team practices during the lockout in California and in New Jersey to ensure that the Jets would be prepared whenever a new CBA deal was eventually reached.
On the defensive side of the football, cornerback Darrelle Revis and defensive lineman Sione Pouha have also been selected as captains. Revis, the 14th overall pick of the 2007 draft out of Pitt, is one of the more outstanding players in football.
Pouha, a 2005 third-round pick has blossomed under Rex Ryan and developed into one of the premier run defenders in football over the past two seasons. He called it an “honor” being named a captain, and it is a great example of how far he’s come.
The fifth and final captain Ryan selected is special teams ace Eric Smith. Like Pouha, Smith has become invaluable to the Jets since Ryan got his hands on him, and he was recently named the starting strong safety as well as tending to his special teams duties.
For the first time in some time, the Jets will have a few players with a “C” emblem on their jerseys. The goal for them, and everybody on this team is the same. Play like a Jet, and bring home a Super Bowl.