That Todd Bowles toed the same line Sunday afternoon following his New York Jets' first loss of the season as he did after their 2-0 start says an awful lot about the head coach, especially in light of their last head coach - who didn't toe any lines, but apparently liked toes.
It says an awful lot about the direction of the franchise as it now faces its first bit of adversity on the field and how it will regroup following its first loss of the season.
This rebuilding project may not be quite as far along as the writing on the side of the bandwagon read last week, but that's okay. Frankly, it shouldn't be at this point. But what was shown in the moments after the Jets loss was a head coach who continued his long-term plan for turning around a franchise that has been in a downward spiral since midway through the 2011 season.
Following a loss like this one in Week 3, Bowles sounded the same words that he did after his Jets' two wins to start the season. He didn't circle the wagons, he wasn't doom and gloom. He didn't go off the cliff after the first loss of his time with the Jets. It was bad, it was ugly and in many ways it was reminiscent of last year.
That is, until Bowles stepped to the podium.
He laid it down in a way that hasn't been seen around here for the past six years. Under head coach Rex Ryan, there was a tendency to whitewash bad results, to blame the coaching staff and give undue credit to the opponent. It was all designed to pump up the players, treating them like children and their collective psyches like infants. It produced a locker room of mental midgets and a culture that lacked accountability.
"They beat us at our own game. "
Where Ryan got lost in hyperbole, Bowles stayed the course with his remarks. They were simple, they were cutting. They were on point.
During the week leading up to Sunday's loss, he preached one game at a time. His team was off to the franchise's best start since 2011 and he didn't want them to get caught up in all the hype. Following a loss where at one point before halftime they were down 24-0, Bowles didn't make excuses.
The Jets were sloppy against the Eagles, four turnovers on offense and just one created was atypical for a team that came into the game leading the league with a +8 turnover differential. He didn't pontificate with a grand vision for next week.
Instead, he layed forth a team that didn't show up, that didn't execute.
"He got beat."
Bowles held his team as well as himself to a higher level after Sunday's loss. One of Ryan's great faults during his six years with the Jets was to relent any pressure on players for mistakes. He handled every player with kid's gloves, refusing to call them out publicly. What came from this was a lack of accountability.
Proof of that came in four straight years without the playoffs, without a winning record. His players simply seemed unprepared but more than anything, they seemed to lack a backbone.
Enter Bowles, a head coach who through the highs of the first two weeks was unafraid to turn the ever-so-moderate praise he dished into criticism that was on point and not over the top. He balanced his remarks, not stinging but certainly not soft, so the message was sent to his locker room that the way the team lost on Sunday was unacceptable.
Brandon Marshall's attempted flip that led to a turnover was pinpointed by Bowles as one where "we both known he can't make that play." An interception by Ryan Fitzpatrick was called a "momentum changer." The previous head coach would have sung like Pollyanna about the virtues of those players.
Instead, Bowles demanded more and for good reason. The Jets should have been 3-0 since the Philadelphia Eagles not only came limping in but made plenty of mistakes themselves.
"We had our chances and we didn't take advantage of them."
It was a game that the Jets had multiple chances to win and simply didn't, the reason why is a riddle to perhaps everyone but Bowles. He came in preaching accountability and that didn't change on Sunday after the game. No words were minced, no one left off the hook and accountability was preached.
Now, it is up to Bowles to back up his words this week and right this ship, to not just talk the talk but actually walk it.