No bombastic promises, no bold guarantees. Just some quiet determination from Todd Bowles on Wednesday as he was introduced as the New York Jets head coach. He wouldn't kiss anyone's rings he said, but he wouldn't take any shots at the best team in his new division.
Bowles enters a powder keg of a situation with the Jets, replacing a popular head coach in Rex Ryan who was brash and unapologetically unforgiving in his over-the-top belief in his team. During his first two seasons with the Jets, Ryan promised the Super Bowl and very nearly delivered, twice coming within a single win of the big game. But he never did bring this snake-bitten franchise to the promised land and over the last four seasons saw his squad he regress.
Now the newly-minted Bowles walks into a Jets team that was 4-12 last year in a division that sends the New England Patriots to this year's Super Bowl. Ryan infamously claimed during his first few months on the job that “I never came here to kissBill Belichick’s, you know, rings. I came to win. Let’s just put it that way. So we’ll see what happens. I’m certainly not intimidated by New England or anybody else.”
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It sparked a rivalry that was deep, even as the Jets struggled in recent years.
Instead of firing up the rivalry with the Patriots, Bowles instead deferred to the Patriots as the top team in the division. When asking about kissing Belichick's rings, he artfully sidestepped that question.
“I'm going to work on getting my own rings,” Bowles said on Wednesday. “They're the cream of the crop in the division. That's why they're in the Super Bowl. That's somewhere we're striving to get to and that's what we're going to work towards.”
- Owner Woody Johnson said that the relationship with Charlie Casserly and Ron Wolf, two former NFL executives who were brought in to consult on the hiring of the general manager and head coach, is now over. But Johnson left the door open for both Casserly and Wolf to be retained for future services if need be.
- Bowles was asked about replacing Ryan, who was popular with the media for his sound bites and humor, and he answered by saying that “I'm just going to be myself.” He impressed on Wednesday with his poise and clarity during the press conference. “As long as I focus on football, everything comes around secondary,” Bowles said.
- The quarterback situation for the Jets is uncertain, with incumbent starter Geno Smith facing a murky future with this team. “Obviously he was a great college quarterback. Going in with us just getting here, we're going to evaluate Geno as well as everyone else on this team,” Bowles said. “When we get a good feel and get the coaches in the building, we'll sit down and do it then.” Not exactly a ringing endorsement of Smith, who in two years in the league has failed to show on a consistent basis that he can be a long-term solution for the Jets.