This week, New York Jets running back Thomas Jones made a poor decision, publicly criticizing quarterback Brett Favre for throwing three interceptions during the team's final regular season game against the Miami Dolphins.
"We're a team and we win together ... but at the same time, you can't turn the ball over and expect to win," Jones said during the interview. "The other day, the three interceptions really hurt us. I mean, that's just reality. If I were to sit here and say, 'Oh, man, it's OK,' that's not reality.
"The reality is, you throw interceptions, I'm (ticked) off, I don't like it. You know what I'm saying? I don't like it, I know everybody else on the team doesn't like it."
Jones, who evidently decided that he was qualified to be the team's head coach, then stated that a player who is not playing well should be pulled from the game.
"You're jeopardizing the whole team because you're having a bad day," he said. "To me, that's not fair to everybody else. You're not the only one on the team."
Good gosh. You mean it's that simple? Who knew?
Now before I comment further on Jones' remarks, let me preface them with this
statement so that no one believes that I'm bringing a pro-Brett Favre bias to
the discussion: I can't really get worked up over whether or not Brett
Favre has played his last NFL game.
And that's a shame. Favre has provided so many memorable moments over the years that the thought that we may have seen him play for the last time should evoke some emotion. But I've grown so weary of the retirement soap opera that has played out over the last couple of seasons that I won't believe anything he says on the topic until at least August.
Do I hope that Favre comes back and plays again next season? You bet.
Jets QB Brett Favre celebrates with RB Thomas Jones.
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Despite the Jets' late-season slump, the 39-year old finished the season ranked 11th among all NFL quarterbacks with 3,472 passing yards, fifth in the league with a 65.7 completion percentage, and ninth with 22 touchdown passes. Sure, his 22 interceptions was the worst mark in the league, but he's averaged 18 per year during his career ever since he established himself as a starter. So it's not as though the Jets should have been surprised that he throws the ball into dangerous situations more frequently many other quarterbacks.
And don't forget, this was his first year working with the Jets offense and working on getting his timing down with their receivers. So unless he has a physical problem that makes it impossible, I believe Favre will want to prove to himself that he can still compete in this league at the age of 40 whether it's in New York or elsewhere.
That said, let's take a closer look at Jones' criticism of his teammate.
That's right, his teammate.
At some point during the past few days, Thomas Jones seemingly overlooked that he was lambasting a teammate. Or he simply didn't care.
And that's bad for the Jets.
The 30-year-old running back crossed a few lines that he should have been wise enough to navigate more tactfully.
First, professionals don't publicly criticize their teammates. They may express disappointment in how a teammate performed on a given day, but they don't lose sight of the fact that the player is still your teammate, so you continue to show support for him. To do otherwise damages the camaraderie and trust that high-performance teams develop. And you certainly don't claim to talk for all of your teammates when you voice your opinion.
Second, Jones should step off his Pro Bowl pedestal for a moment and reflect on how Favre's presence and performance helped propel the running back to Hawaii this year. Step back in time to the 2007 season, when the Jets had no consistent threat of an aerial attack, and Jones was only able to muster a 3.6 yards-per-carry average and one rushing touchdown while grinding out his 1,119 yards. He was no better than 18th in the league in rushing last year.
With Favre behind center and an improved offensive line, defenses had to respect the passing game when they played the Jets. That meant that Jones had some bigger holes to run through as he boosted his average to 4.5 yards per carry and finished eighth in rushing with 1,312 yards.
Third, if Jones truly believes that a star player should be pulled when he's not performing well, perhaps he should have been benched that day along with Favre for his lackluster 2.3-yards-per-carry performance against the Dolphins. After all, if Jones had performed better during his rushing attempts, the Jets would have been more than willing to let him carry the team to victory.
It also begs the question as to whether or not Jones would have happily supported Eric Mangini if the Jets head coach had benched him in Week 4 when Favre threw six touchdown passes while Jones amassed a meager 46 yards, rushing 18 times while averaging just 2.6 yards per carry? Leon Washington averaged 3.7 yards per carry that day on his seven carries, so it wasn't as though Jones faced an impenetrable wall of defenders every time he attempted to run.
RB Thomas Jones on the move.
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
But Mangini kept Jones in until the end that day for the same reason he kept Brett Favre in for the entire game on Week 17. It had little to do with Favre or any player being more important than the rest of the team. It had everything to do with the fact that Favre provided the Jets with the best chance to win, just as Jones does from week to week.
If Jones truly believes that Favre deserved to be benched in favor of Kellen Clemens last Sunday, and that making that move was going to help the Jets win the game, he's the one in need of a reality check. While Mangini ended up losing his job after the game, he might not have gotten out of the stadium alive if he had made that boneheaded personnel decision with a playoff spot on the line.
Jones "clarified" his statements on Friday during an interview on ESPN's First Take, saying that his interview comments had been "chopped up." By the shift in the tone of his comments, it appears likely that he either did some soul-searching or was coached on how to minimize the damage he had done to his team.
"Nobody's perfect, trust me. I'm not perfect by any means. Brett Favre's not perfect by any means," he said.
And suddenly, unlike earlier in the week, there was plenty of blame to go around.
"There's not one person on that team when we win a game. Everybody on that team contributed. The trainers, the practice squad guys, everybody on that team contributed," he said. "When we lose a game, everybody's included. Everybody could always do something better."
Jones said that he will talk to Favre about his comments and claimed that he respects the quarterback not only as a player but as "a great guy." He went on to say that his earlier comments were strictly in relationship to the three interceptions that Favre had thrown that day, nothing more.
"I'm not the type of person that goes out there and just throws people under the bus or make comments about people," Jones said. "Either I answer a question honestly, realistically, or I don't answer it at all."
If his most recent comments reflected his true feelings towards Favre and the situation, Jones should have offered those words up instead of the ones he chose earlier in the week.
Or maybe he would have been better off not answering it at all.
Maybe he's learned that lesson the hard way this week.
A member of the Pro Football Writers of America, Ed Thompson's player interviews and NFL features are published across the Scout.com network and at FOXSports.com. You can contact him by email through this link.