INDIANAPOLIS — Super Bowl XLVI is all about the New England Patriots when it comes to the AFC East. But we're not going to completely ignore the other three teams during the week.
During Super Bowl media day we ran into Mike Lombardi of the NFL Network. He also is a former front-office executive for various teams, including the San Francisco 49ers, Green Bay Packers and Cleveland Browns.
Speaking to several media groups that included the AFC East blog, Lombardi had several thoughts on the division heading into the offseason:
(On how to fix the New York Jets' chaotic locker room)
Lombardi: I think the Jets are tied together by a lot of guaranteed contracts. So I don’t know how you go about fixing it. Santonio [Holmes] is on the team, and I think sometime in March he's guaranteed the next year. So I think whenever you have a locker room controlled by guaranteed money, it's tough to fix. Fear does the work of reason. And if you can't put fear into the players that they can lose their jobs, it's tough to reason with them. So I think it's going to be a very, very tough locker room to get a handle of.
(On Jets' coach Rex Ryan’s approach)
Lombardi: I think you have to be honest with the players, and you have to be honest with yourself. I don't think you can go in front of everybody and say you're the greatest team in America and you just got beat. I think you have to be more critical. I don't think that's a sustainable paradigm.
(On fixing the Jets offense)
Lombardi: If they want Mark Sanchez to be a great quarterback, they need to have a blue-chip running back around him. If they want to be ground and pound, then you can't be ground and pound and [tight end] Dustin Keller can't block anybody. It's tough to be ground and pound when everybody knows the tight end isn't going to block anyone. So now you have to substitute to get the blocking tight end in. And, oh yeah, by the way we're going to run now that [Matthew] Mulligan is in the game. Why don't you just put up a red flag that you're going to run it? I think they need to change their roster to suit that [style]. I don't think Shonn Greene is the guy to be the blue-chip running back.
Lombardi: I think you better know him. Obviously, [Dolphins head coach] Joe Philbin knows him and knows what to do. I think the most important thing when you take a quarterback is to make sure you know what he can't do. For instance, the Jets had three years of Sanchez. They know what he can't do, so don't let him do that. To me, that's when you get in trouble. [49ers head coach] Jim Harbaugh did a really good job with Alex Smith this year, because he eliminated what he can't do, and he loaded him up on what he could do. ... But if you don't know that, there's a lot of trail and error. So with Matt Flynn, know what he can't do and make sure he doesn't do that. Build the offense around the things that he can do.
(On Flynn's value and if it's a risky investment)
Lombardi: I think it's risky to pay him, but I don't think it's risky to go get him. I think it's risky to pay him $60 million or $20 million over two [years] like Kevin Kolb. I think there's a lot of chances for failure there. But, obviously there's not a lot of quarterbacks available. So you have to figure out a way to solve your problem.