Todd Bowles has control of Jets locker room despite perception

Todd Bowles is a good football coach and leader even if it’s convenient to paint a very different picture at the moment. The Jets nightmarish season has been sprinkled with unsavory headlines, but it’s simply unfair to vilify the head coach.

Bowles still commands respect in his locker room, even if Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson disrespected him by their recent actions. He still has control of this place despite the noise.

Bowles, of course, is ultimately accountable for all of it, but he’s not losing his grip with players.

“You definitely always have a general sense of the vibe of the locker room and the way that relationship is,” Ryan Fitzpatrick told the Daily News. “But I promise you there’s respect there.”

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Bowles has been far from perfect. He’s taken full responsibility for his team’s 3-6 record, but it’s a cut-throat, bottom-line business. The cut-throat, bottom-line reality: Bowles hasn’t produced good enough results. His 13-12 record through a season and a half has prompted some people to wonder whether he’ll ever be good enough.

Bowles has been transparent about his failings this season without tossing anyone else under the bus.

So, should Woody Johnson get rid of this guy after the season?

Jets coach Todd Bowles has the respect of the locker room despite certain players disrespecting him.

Jets coach Todd Bowles has the respect of the locker room despite certain players disrespecting him.

(Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

That would be foolish given all the dynamics at play. Time will reveal whether or not Bowles was the right hire, but the man isn’t some clueless buffoon. He knows football. He understands people. He leads with a steady hand. Give him the guy a real chance to succeed before discarding him.

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“When you’re in this type of environment, everyone’s looking at the leader,” Brandon Marshall said. “Everyone’s looking at the captain to see how he responds. He’s our guy and there’s a trickle-down effect. There’s a calmness and peace that he has every single day that he comes to work. (He) gives us a sense that we still have hope and there’s still a chance for us to turn it around.”

Bowles leads with this guiding principle: He respects his players with the belief that they won’t abuse that respect. There’s no denying that Wilkerson’s repeated tardiness to mandatory meetings/practice over the past year and a half was the ultimate slap in the face to his coach, but that player was an outlier. Bowles has control of his team despite Wilkerson’s brazen disregard for the rules.

The supposed sideline skirmish between Fitzpatrick and Marshall last week was laughably overplayed to try to fit the narrative that there’s chaos on One Jets Drive. It was the epitome of a non-story about two teammates who have a tremendous amount of respect for each other.

Bowles appears unfazed by the notion that he’s losing control of his locker room. “I know what reality is,” he said.

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There are fair criticisms though. Bowles has made some curious in-game decisions dating back to the fateful 2015 season finale in Buffalo. His secondary has sprung leaks for the better part of two months. His talent-rich defensive line has underachieved for two months.

Todd Bowles

Todd Bowles

(Norm Hall/Getty Images)

There are myriad reasons for the poor production, but I’m certain that Bowles didn’t suddenly forget how to coach. He’s a brilliant defensive mind. He has a track record of defensive success, but there’s no denying that this defense has played sloppy, low-I.Q. football this season. His offense is in dire need of help too.

Bowles could use better players, but so could much of his head coaching brethren. He’s paid to make do until the front office decision makers give him more talent. He deserves to cultivate the talent that his general manager will supply in the future.

Barring a complete collapse over the final seven games, Bowles’ job will be safe. There will be plenty at stake in 2017 though for the first-time head coach.

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The Jets will start over with a young quarterback and likely miss the postseason for a third consecutive year under him. Johnson will have a real decision to make after next season whether to give Bowles a one-year extension (to avoid a lame-duck 2018 season) or part ways.

The owner shouldn’t be fooled. It’s not Thunderdome in his building these days. His head coach deserves more time to prove what he can do.

Tags:
nfl
new york jets
todd bowles
ryan fitzpatrick
brandon marshall

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