(Jets Head Coach Todd Bowles in the preseason – Photo by Neil Miller – Sportsday Wire)
Todd Bowles is all set for his debut as Jets Head Coach this Sunday when they take on the Cleveland Browns. This is the next test for Bowles after he has shown his penchant for the job in training camp.
Bowles said of how excited he is to coach in his first regular season game, “I’ll be excited Sunday. It doesn’t sound like it right now, but I’ll be excited.”
On there being any areas of concern heading into the game, Bowles said, “No. As long as we know what we’re doing and we prepare the right way, I’m comfortable.”
Bowles was hired for his professionalism and pragmatism and that can be seen in how he is working with his coaches and management.
Bowles’ relationship with General Manager Mike Maccagnan is far different than his predecessor Rex Ryan’s dealings with John Idzik. Ryan and Idzik never really were on the same page, whereas Bowles and Maccagnan could have been singing ‘kumbaya’ at camp.
On his initial feeling on Maccagnan and his working relationship with him, Bowles said, “When we first sat down to meet and we started talking, first we had a lot of things in common, obviously going back to the Redskins days, but we see players the same way. We can see things on film the same way. We understand the business part and the football side the same way, trying to make them merge together. If I say something, it’s like it was going to come out of his mouth and if he says something, it almost comes out of my mouth. Mike’s been great. Mike’s been outstanding. Working with him has been totally nothing but joy.”
Bowles said of noticing that element of commonality right away about working with Maccagnan, “Yes it is, because you don’t take a job if you really don’t jell with the guy that you’re going to working for, and Mike and I jelled right away. That was one of the biggest reasons I took this job – him and Mr. (Woody) Johnson.”
Bowles said of the rarity of a coach and GM on the same page with player evaluation, “I don’t think it’s rare. I just think it’s hard to match up. I’ve seen some great over the years, I’ve seen some not so great over the years.”
The Jets’ biggest crisis in camp came when starting quarterback Geno Smith suffered a broken jaw on August 12th. The loss of a starting QB is tough for any coach to deal with, let alone someone brand-new to an organization.
Bowles passed the test with flying colors with the confidence he showed in veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick, who will be the starter Sunday. The Jets also tried out Matt Flynn and Josh Johnson for the backup quarterback spot, and wound up going with Bryce Petty as the backup.
Bowles said on Thursday on if he is worried if he has to call on Bryce Petty without much experience, “No, not at all. We knew what we were doing when we put him at number two. The other guys didn’t have much experience with the offense going in, not that they couldn’t play, but it would have been hard to get that whole game plan, a couple weeks of camp in, OTAs in, and say they could go out and play the game it wasn’t fair. At least Bryce can do that, so I’m comfortable that way.”
Bowles said of why there is so much unpredictability in Week One, “We’ll, there’s a lot of the unknown. You don’t get to see anything in preseason so you’re going off of rules. By Week Eight you have enough film to get a bead on everybody and say they like to do this or that. Week One, Two and Three you don’t see enough of everybody to kind of get a gauge on them, so anything can happen in Week One.”
On how much more difficult it is for a coach to prepare for Week One, Bowles said, “You try not to overthink it. You see what you see, and you play what you play and then you play your rules on everything else.”
Bowles made his mark as defensive coordinator of the Arizona Cardinals. On Thursday, he said to the question of if it was weird to not call defensive plays during the preseason, “No, because you have to let your coaches coach. You get a little antsy and not doing anything in practice I was getting antsy. In the games, you try and calm down and see things and if you have something to say, you pull them to the side or correct them when you see the film the next day. You have to let your coaches coach.”
Bowles said of how good the Jets defense can be, “We don’t try to be good. We try to make plays and we try to stop people. We don’t put any tags on ourselves. We’re trying to whatever we can do win the ball game.”
Chan Gailey is the Jets offensive coordinator, and Bowles said of how he has handled input with Gailey on the offensive side of things, “It’s been real good. We’re on the same page a lot. You’re not going to try to jump in every other play when they call plays, but there’s certain situations where things will be said. We’re on the same page, so that’s not been a problem.”
Bowles said of his vision for the identity of the offense, “You would hope that we would be able to run the ball and we get some explosive plays down the field. We want to be explosive, but we don’t want to be so far explosive just throwing the ball up. We want to have a good mix between run and pass. You want your identity to be that. Obviously, games are going to differ and there are going to be situations that matter whether we’re behind or ahead, where we’re going to have to do one or the other, but you would hope at the end it balances out.”
One thing that a head coach has to deal with that most people don’t think about is what they do on coin flips. Bowles said of his coin-flip philosophy, “I’m superstitious. If we win it, and I pick the wrong one and we don’t do well, I won’t do that again. From that standpoint, no, but you have to wait a couple of games to see whether your offense or you defense starts fast and then you kind of go with that. So right now, without the unknown, we’ll wait until game day to make that decision.”
The Jets are very excited about Leonard Williams, who they drafted in the first round with the sixth pick.
Bowles said of the strides Williams has made, “Leonard came in and what impressed us early on was that his mental was very good. He learned the playbook, he understands his assignments, he asks a lot of questions and that’s rare for a rookie coming in like that. To ask those types of questions, and then not mess them up when he got in there, he’s always been a hard worker, he comes out every day and you know what you are getting in him. He’s going to play hard, he’s going to play fast and he’s going to know what he’s doing, and I think that’s continued throughout training camp.”
On balancing expectations for Williams, Bowles said, “You expect him to learn from his mistakes. He’s going to see a lot of different blocking schemes that he hasn’t seen, so that’s going to be part of the growing. The biggest thing is, how fast can he learn and correct those mistakes and then get better from there. You kind of temper expectations because you know he is going to have to go through some growing pains.”