FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 09: Derrick Mason #85 of the New York Jets is tackled by Brandon Spikes #55 of the New England Patriots on October 9, 2011 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
I had heard rumblings in the media the past few days that the reason for Derrick Mason's benching in New England had to do with him struggling to learn the playbook. I was wondering how hard the Jets planned on pushing this angle after the trade. They apparently are going with it, feeding it to reporters. I had my eye on it because the team really pushing it might suggest something is up. Mason struggling to grasp the system seems very odd. Here is why.
Mason came from Baltimore. The offensive coordinator there is Cam Cameron. Cameron used to be the offensive coordinator in San Diego from 2002 to 2006. Brian Schottenheimer worked under Cameron before becoming Jets offensive coordinator in 2006. Eric Mangini is on record saying that when he became head coach of the Jets, he focused on the two offenses that always gave the Patriots problems, Denver and San Diego. He wanted to install one of those systems. The ability of Schotteneheimer to implement an offense similar to Cameron's helped get him his job.
The Jets run a system similar to Cameron's. Mason had to have been familiar with a lot of the concepts. Braylon Edwards commented after he was traded from Cleveland to the Jets that he was ahead of the game because he played for former Browns offensive coordinator, Rob Chudzinski, another former San Diego position coach who installed a similar system. While each team uses its own unique variations, there really are not that many different offensive systems used in the NFL.
This report of the trade being because Mason did not grasp the offense thus seems odd. It is certainly possible he was having a hard time with some of the nuiances, but the guy replacing him, Jeremy Kerley is also learning the playbook because he is a rookie, and there is a heck of a lot bigger difference between the TCU offensive system he was in last year with what the Jets run than there is with the Baltimore offense. Why would you just give up on a guy anyway? Why not work with him extra? Rex Ryan thinks Mason can still play. He predicted big things. Unless there is something else the team is not saying.
Something does not add up here. It sure feels like there are other issues the team is not telling us. This certainly does nothing to squash the rumors of locker room unrest.