Linebacker Marques Murrell, one of the Jets’ best special-teams players, was a healthy scratch Sunday, while Vernon Gholston was again active. Gholston has 12 tackles on defense this year, and one tackle on special teams, while Murrell has eight special-teams tackles. Gholston has only four tackles since Calvin Pace returned from suspension.
When asked why Gholston was up instead of Murrell, special-teams coordinator Mike Westhoff said, "That’s a good question. You’d have to ask the defense that, to tell you the truth."
It’s understandable that the Jets would want to get a return on their $21 million investment of guaranteed money in Gholston, the sixth overall draft pick in 2008, but they also must think about the bottom line of winning down the stretch, now that they are in a playoff battle. And if Murrell or someone else gives them a better chance to win that day than Gholston, then that decision must be made — no matter how it looks publicly or how it hurts in the wallet.
Nobody is more disappointed that Gholston has not developed into a defensive force as I am, but I don't think I agree with this thinking. Vernon has been solid against the run this season, and the biggest focus heading into Sunday was on stopping the run. We're not having this conversation if special teams standouts like Jay Feely don't kick a line drive, Wallace Wright takes a better angle, or Larry Izzo doesn't totally whiff on a tackle.