Jets head coach Todd Bowles is an optimist, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that he still believes in this team, even if they are seemingly unraveling right in front of him.
Not only did Bowles’s Jets snatch defeat from victory in Miami, likely dashing any playoff hopes, but he’s also dealing with his two star defensive ends’ undisciplined ways, immense quarterback issues, and whispers that he’s lost his fraying team.
It may seem like things aren’t under control and that Bowles is on the hot seat, but for the second-year coach he stills sees the season as fixable and said he’s still plugging along as if hope hasn’t abandoned them just yet – and he noted he hasn’t abandoned his quarterback just yet, either.
“We’re 3-6. We’re down, not out. Right now, I’m not worried about turning the page [on the starting quarterback]. I’m worried about who gives us the best chance to win. Right now, Fitz gives us the best chance to win if he’s healthy,” Bowles said, adding he’s actually seen more discord and tension with last season’s 10-win team. “We had more turmoil going last year when we won four, five in a row. This year is normal.”
Bowles added that team chemistry is fine, too, regardless of what’s being said on television or printed.
“Brandon [Marshall] and him [Fitzpatrick] talk on the sideline all the time. That’s just football talk. That goes without saying,” Bowles reasoned. “And [Muhammad] Wilkerson and Sheldon [Richardson] are fine, too.”
Wilkerson and Richardson are coming off a Miami game where they were disciplined in a public manner. And the coach’s refusal to publicly address the issues leaves many outside the Jets’ facilities to believe the team is in disorder and the season is beginning to officially unravel.
But words and phrases like turmoil and lack of discipline aren’t what come to mind for Bowles, as he tries to right the ship and get the Jets back to winning. He just thinks the team’s plight is a matter of refocusing and doing a better job at blocking the outside noise.
“It’s not a lack of discipline. It’s a lack of composure. It’s been a different guy on each play,” Bowles said, noting he’s complicit as well. “I haven’t done a good job either. We’re 3-6. It speaks for itself. I can do a lot better job of coaching … it falls on the head coach, so I take full responsibility of everything.”
Marshall still believes in this team as well, and said he’s still very much in his coach’s corner. He noted that it’s a new week and it’s now time to refocus and get back to preparing for this week’s opponent, the equally-struggling Los Angeles Rams.
“It’s just business as usual. We’re obviously disappointed [with Sunday], but we’re right back at watching film, trying to see what we did wrong, fix mistakes, and build off of what we did right,” said Marshall.
He also pledged his allegiance to Bowles.
“He’s a great head coach. He’s a great leader. He’s real. He’s transparent. [And] he’s one of the best I’ve been around -- and I’ve been around a few. I love playing for him and I think that’s the same sentiment throughout the whole building,” Marshall said. “As a player you can’t ask for a better situation, and I can assure you that. This is my fourth team. I’ve been in a few different locker rooms, a few different organizations, [and] been around a few different groups. As a player … you have no wants, and as far as our coaching staff, they treat us as men and they hold us accountable. I’ve been happy to be a part of it and it think it’s the perfect environment for guys to flourish, and become great players and better men.”
Marshall’s sentiments may or may not hold weight within a locker room that is reportedly fractured. But the fact that other players are also publicly coming out and promoting harmony and optimism can only help. Defensive tackle Steve McLendon reasoned guys need to “stay together … stand together, because anything can turn this season around.” The Miami game is in the past, he added, so now it’s time to rally around the same refrain – or else see the season sink further into despair.
The Rams (3-5) could be just what the Jets need. Once a surprise team on the rise, after starting the season 3-1, Los Angeles has now lost four straight and appear to be in even more disarray than Gang Green. Los Angeles has the worst offense in the NFL, averaging 16.2 points and 311.5 yards per game, and they have a minus 4 turnover ratio. They could be the elixir.
“Everyone is focused on trying to right the ship. We’re playing a game at home this week. We’re not trying to lull down,” said offensive tackle Ben Ijalana. “We’re just trying to get back on the right track, continue to get these wins going … The mood is good. Guys are back to work, today. We’ll fix our mistakes and get into the new gameplan.”
Gang Green notes:
-The Jets released wideout Myles White from the practice squad, as well as defensive tackle Jarvis Jenkins.
-Filling that void on the practice squad is offensive tackle Zach Sterup of Nebraska.
-New York also signed defensive lineman Anthony Johnson off of New England’s practice squad.
-Wideout Devin Smith has been taken off the PUP list.
-Left tackle Ryan Clady was placed on injured reserve, with a torn rotator cuff.