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Posted 21 Aug 2015— As Todd Bowles walked through the indoor field at Jets’ headquarters on Wednesday afternoon, his partially replaced right knee wrapped in ice, he came upon his star defender giving an interview. There was Darrelle Revis, sitting on a bench and preparing to answer a question about how Bowles’s defensive style compares to that of other coaches the cornerback has played for. Before Revis could speak, Bowles chimed in. “Yes, what are they?” he said, walking by without breaking stride.
“Come on, coach,” a laughing Revis teased back.
Bowles’ easy rapport with perhaps the most important player in the locker room is critical. Just seven months into his tenure as the Jets’ head coach, Bowles has already faced a crisis heard ’round the NFL. Geno Smith’s broken jaw, inflicted by IK Enemkpali’s locker-room punch, has knocked the prospective starting quarterback out six to 10 weeks. That imbroglio occurred just a few weeks after defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson was charged with resisting arrest, which could keep him off the field for longer than his four-game drug suspension. Bowles, who inherited the majority of his roster, was suddenly faced with holding his team together under the glare of the New York and national media.
Who is Todd Bowles ? And what is he made of as a leader ? The MMQB sat down with him this week to find out.
VRENTAS: You’ve had an interesting week. When you first heard what had happened between Smith and Enemkpali, what was your first reaction? Was there a part of you that thought someone was trying to prank you?
BOWLES: No. This is football. They’re grown men, and they’ve got to handle things better. You handle it the same way you handle any crisis, whether it was Sheldon’s thing or whether it was something else. You’re disappointed, and then you’ve got to look for solutions.
‘I don’t put up any fronts,’ Bowles says. ‘What you see is what you get.’
VRENTAS: There’s not a road map for how a head coach should handle one player punching another one in the locker room.
BOWLES: Definitely not. Not a road map. But if you’ve been in this business long enough you see quite a few things that happen. You just don’t want it to be your team, but when it’s your team, you’ve got to have a good pulse of your team to see how you handle it.
VRENTAS: Was there a situation from your playing or coaching career that has been helpful?
BOWLES: My whole career (chuckles). You see a lot, and you go through a lot. It doesn’t necessarily have to be on your team. It can be on different teams. You try to learn from others’ mistakes so it doesn’t have to be yours. Over your whole career, you see a lot in this business, so nothing really surprises you. The first time you’re like, Wow; then the next time, you’re like, OK; then just nothing surprises you. You don’t want it to happen, but you’ve got to deal with it.
VRENTAS: You were an interim head coach before, after the head coach was fired in Miami, and you were an interim defensive coordinator in Philadelphia, after the defensive coordinator was fired. What did those experiences teach you about holding players together in turbulent situations?
BOWLES: It teaches you to be yourself, and not to get too high or too low when situations happen. You’ve just got to be ready to handle them. Because if you panic, everybody else panics. You can’t panic.
VRENTAS: Are you watching to see how players handle last week’s incident as test of sorts for what you have in the locker room?
BOWLES: I know what I have in there. We have some good guys, and we have some good leaders in that locker room. That’s not even a question. Every day is a test, and things come up, and you learn how to handle them together. It’s easy to handle them by yourself, but as a team, you have to handle them together. You have to be walking on the same page.
VRENTAS: Did what happened last week cause you to change any part of your approach as a head coach?
BOWLES: No, you can’t change your approach. Certain things are going to happen that are out of your control. You have to make sure everybody knows and understands and makes sure it doesn’t happen again.
VRENTAS: Will it affect how you view or coach Geno?
BOWLES: Not one thing. Nothing changed.
VRENTAS: You coached with Bill Parcells for two seasons in Dallas, when you were the Cowboys’ secondary coach. What did you take from being a part of his staff?
BOWLES: Everybody talks about the snarl and the demeanor, but he’s a very sharp, intelligent guy. I don’t think he gets enough credit for being such a smart football coach. And he teaches you the ball game. He’s a no-excuse, no-nonsense guy, but he teaches you how to coach the game, how to see the game, and he taught a lot of people how to play the game. On that staff, in 2005, we had a bunch of people who were pretty good coaches: [Sean] Payton, [Tony] Sparano, [Todd] Haley, Kacy Rodgers.
VRENTAS: You’re the seventh member of that ’05 Cowboys staff hired as a head coach.
BOWLES: That says a lot about [Parcells]. It doesn’t say anything about us. It says a lot about him, and how he picks and grooms coaches, and what he can do with people, and how he sees talent and develops talent. He’s a Hall of Famer, and that says a bunch about him.
VRENTAS: Your most recent influence before becoming a head coach was Bruce Arians in Arizona. What rubbed off from him?
BOWLES: Bruce was my college head coach, so being a head coach with him in the league, he trusted me to be myself. Bruce’s [mentality] is defend every blade of grass, and always try to win every game. So he taught me the “no fear” attitude, which I already had, but he ensured it. And you play to win, all the time. In case of doubt, you play full speed. You don’t back off; you’re going for all or nothing.
VRENTAS: “No fear” in what respect?
BOWLES: How you play the game. Don’t be afraid to take chances and do things. Just play the game as you see it. If you have a thought, let it go through. Don’t second-guess yourself. Just go ahead and do it, and you live with the results.
VRENTAS: He always did that on offense. Go deep, and don’t settle for the check-downs.
BOWLES: Yes, he did. But it was calculated. It wasn’t just a whole aerial show. It was calculated in the things he did. When it’s calculated, don’t have any doubts. Just make sure you pull the trigger.
VRENTAS: Your defense has played that way, blitzing as much as you did in Arizona last season.
BOWLES: We did. But again, it was all calculated. Those guys were good players. They made me look good.
VRENTAS: Did you talk to Arians after what happened last week?
BOWLES: He texted me, to make sure I was alright. I said I was fine. He said OK, if you need to vent, let me know. I said OK.
VRENTAS: Have you taken him up on that offer?
BOWLES: No, he’s got his own team to run. You don’t do that. (laughs) In the offseason, though, I might vent to him a little bit.
VRENTAS: You’ve put up a strong front publicly responding to crises on your team. Do you feel like you’ve responded well?
BOWLES: I don’t put up any fronts. What you see is what you get. You don’t look back and say you’ve done a good or bad job. It’s a learning process. I don’t care if you’ve been a coach in this league for 10, 15 years, it’s an ever-growing process. You just try to weather the storm the best you can, and move forward and make sure the team is focused. There will be more things that come up throughout my coaching career, I’m sure. And you handle that as they come.
VRENTAS: The transition from coordinator to head coach is always an interesting one. How have you balanced your responsibilities?
BOWLES: It’s still a work in progress. You try to do a little bit of one thing one week, then you do a little bit the next week. You try to put your foot in where needed until you get a good feel for your team, which I think I do at this point. It’s a steady balancing act. You don’t ever get to say, I’m doing one thing all the time. It’s always a little bit of this, a little bit of that.
VRENTAS: Have you decided whether you want to call the defense during the regular season?
BOWLES: No, because [in the first preseason game], we were just letting guys play. There was no game-planning or play-calling really involved. It was very generic, and we were just trying to make sure guys could run around fast and know what they were doing. We’ll get a good feel these next two games coming up. A lot of other coaches [call plays], so it’s no big deal. You just want to see where your your team is at before you do that.
VRENTAS: What identity do you want your defense to have?
BOWLES: Aggressive. We’re going to try to be an offensive defensive team. We try to dictate and not be dictated to. That’s pretty much what it is.
VRENTAS: In picking an offensive coordinator, did you want someone who would complement that style?
BOWLES: It’s whole different set of circumstances. You don’t want him to be conservative, but you want him to be well-rounded. You want him to be able to teach, first of all. I wanted a good balance between the run game and the pass game. I wanted a guy that I know could command a room, but yet relate to the players and get his point across, and do a bunch of things that we do on defense but from an offensive standpoint. Chan [Gailey] was that guy.
VRENTAS: When news of the locker room fight broke, and Ryan Fitzpatrick stepped into the starting role, there were some people in the league who were more concerned about facing Fitzpatrick early in the season because of his long history in Gailey’s system. How big of a factor was that familiarity with the offense in bringing Fitzpatrick in?
BOWLES: You bring him in because he’s played a bunch of games in this league and he’s smart. You bring him in because he knows how to play. We brought him in because we still thought he could be a good player.
VRENTAS: With Rex Ryan in Buffalo and Mike Tannenbaum in Miami, your division rivals are people who have been in this building—they either coached or drafted your players. What kind of impact will that have on those games?
BOWLES: It makes it more interesting from a fan standpoint and a commentary standpoint. As a coach, you can’t approach it any other way. If you’re in this league long enough, you’re going to bounce around some places. All those guys have been in this building before. But that doesn’t have any bearing on the football game, so you’ve got to kind of keep it separate.
VRENTAS: But these are guys who know your players’ motivations, know their strengths and weaknesses, have coached them or drafted them.
BOWLES: I’ve been a lot of places where they’ve coached my players. That’s not a big deal. Players play for whatever reason they play. They play because they want to show those guys they can still play, and they play for themselves, and they play for the team. It is very interesting having all of them in the same division, though. I can’t recall that before. It’s interesting.
VRENTAS: Your reputation so far has been that you are understated. Will that change?
BOWLES: I just go with what the day says. If everything isn’t going right, I’ll probably be upset. If things are, I’ll probably be calm. If there are big plays, I’ll be excited. I just coach. I don’t worry about the understatement or the overstatement. Your personality comes out as it goes. You can’t just make one.
VRENTAS: What makes you believe in your team this season?
BOWLES: The guys we have, and the coaches we have coaching those guys. We’ve got some proven players and guys that have been dong it for a while. And we have some exciting new young guys. If we can jell, and the chemistry can come together, and the injury bug doesn’t bite us, we have a chance to have a solid team.
Posted 23 Jun 2015For the third straight year, the Around The NFL crew will document the players we believe will be "Making the Leap" in 2015. This could be a player emerging from no-name status to a quality starter. Or it could mean an excellent player jumping to superstar status.
Geno Smith showed more last December than Derek Carr or Blake Bortles showed all season. He torched the Dolphins in a nearly flawless Week 17 game, but nobody noticed because the Jets' season was over in November. Nobody noticed because "Geno" is already a four-letter word in New York.There are different types of Making the Leap candidates. There are diamonds in the rough like Charles Johnson. There are guys like Le'Veon Bell last year, a great young player that we believed could develop into a true superstar. And there are guys like Geno, just trying to improve to "acceptable."Though he is only 24, it feels like the book has already been written on Smith because of his propensity for big mistakes under pressure. But after being viewed as a punchline for two seasons, Geno is now in a perfect position to develop into a midlevel starter who survives a full 16-game slate. After a brutal start to his career, that would be quite a leap.
What changed in December
Geno's lowest moment as a pro was the last memory most folks have of him. In an ugly Week 13 loss to Miami on Monday Night Football, Rex Ryan was so afraid of letting Smith actually play quarterback that the Jets only attempted 13 passes compared to 49 rushes. Rex told a national audience that he'd rather set offensive progress back 40 years than allow Smith to do his job.And then suddenly Geno started to do his job quite well. In the last four games, Smith completed 65 percent of his passes for 1,001 yards, six touchdowns, and two picks. He averaged 9.2 yards-per-attempt over that stretch, tied for best in the league. By the time the Jets played Miami again in Week 17, Geno was virtually flawless :
I re-watched each Smith snap on the coaches film from Game Rewind to see how he pulled off this turnaround. Here are my biggest takeaways :
1. Geno excelled over the final month because of his decision-making. His biggest issue as a pro has been panicking when under duress and throwing passes up for grabs. He's prone to the brain freeze. In the final month, Smith calmly found the open receiver. When no one was open, he made plays with his legs or got rid of the ball.
2. One huge reason that Smith made good decisions: He had time. The Jets protected Smith very well over the final month, which allowed him to show off his strengths. Smith has a strong arm and methodically goes through his reads better than plenty of his young contemporaries. A big question: If protection isn't so ideal in 2015, can he still excel ?
3. Geno got me fired up enough to write this because he owns skills that are difficult to teach. He has excellent pocket movement, buying time to attempt passes. Some quarterbacks never get that sixth sense in the pocket; Geno has it. He is not afraid to make difficult throws, aggressively pushing the ball down the field. He looks off defenders. The play below is an example of him stepping up in the pocket and taking a hit before delivering :
4. The Jets didn't ask Smith to do too much. He ran the offense and didn't take too many chances.
5. In Weeks 14-16, Smith played solid midlevel starter football. He mostly stayed out of the way. But in the season finale, Smith put together one of the best games by any quarterback all season, throwing for 358 yards on only 25 attempts. He threw receivers open and even his incompletions were on point. The game showed off his big arm and his touch.
The Gailey effect
December was fun and all, but Smith wouldn't make our list if not for the arrival of Jets offensive coordinator Chan Gailey. In previous stops, Gailey has turned Tyler Thigpen into a starting fantasy option, helped Ryan Fitzpatrick get a $60 million contract and coached a Jay Fiedler-led Dolphins team to finish eighth in points scored.Gailey accomplished all of the above by getting mediocre quarterbacks to play smart and get rid of the ball quickly. Smith has plenty of talent, and he certainly has the supporting cast. The Jets receiver posse -- Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker, Jeremy Kerley, second-round pick Devin Smith and tight end Jace Amaro -- form one of the deeper groups in the league.Gailey has cooked up numbers with far less talent. His best offenses are similar to the one that Smith excelled in at West Virginia. It's almost like the Jets had a plan here.
We aren't making the case that Geno Smith will be a Pro Bowler. We do believe he has the skills to be a competent starting quarterback that holds off backup Ryan Fitzpatrick all season. He can be the type of guy that finishes in the top 20 of our year-end QB rankings. Those guys have plenty of market value.
To put it another way : Geno, like Alex Smith in Kansas City, will no longer be the guy to hold the team back. The Genocoaster in 2015 should more closely resemble a Swiss train, staying efficiently on schedule.
Did Jets Really Get The Most Value Out Of The Nfl Draft, Among All Teams ? ?...one Study Says Yes ~ ~ ~
Posted 12 May 2015We all know that grading an NFL team's draft right after it happens is a fool's errand, if you take such grading seriously.Still, after the Jets finished their 2015 draft earlier this month, we posted a couple "just for fun" lists of grades — here and here.
Really, though, you need two to three years to properly and accurately grade a draft class. So in addition to those 2015 grades, we also circled back and graded the Jets' 2012 draft.But what if there was a way, for 2015 draft picks, to assess the relative value and efficiency of a team's draft, beyond just arbitrary letter grades? Might we really be able to determine how well a team drafted, compared to the NFL's other 31 organizations ? No immediate draft grading system is perfect, of course, but RotoViz conducted a neat exercise after the draft. And it determined that the Jets got the most value out of this draft, among all NFL teams.
Following the Jets, in these ratings, were the Falcons, Bears, Jaguars and Vikings. The worst value grades went to the Titans, Panthers and Eagles, with Philadelphia coming in last. (Or maybe Eagles coach Chip Kelly just sees something the rest of us don't, as he scouts draft prospects.)
Here's essentially how RotoViz's analysis worked: The website used NFL.com's prospect scouting grades, in combination with where players were actually picked, to determine whether a player was picked above or below his expected slot.Now, this doesn't factor the necessary filling of positional needs into a team's drafting acumen. And naturally, teams' internal scouting of players isn't going to match up with NFL.com's ratings, even if teams are operating on the "take the best player available, regardless of position" method. The draft — as if you didn't know this already — is a subjective, unscientific process that is largely a crapshoot. It takes a lot of luck.
Considering all those caveats, RotoViz rates the Jets as having milked the most value out of this draft — largely because they picked defensive end Leonard Williams sixth overall and offensive guard Jarvis Harrison in the fifth round. In short, the RotoViz analysis concluded that both players should've gone higher, based on their scouting grades.A lot of people were surprised Williams fell to the Jets at No. 6. Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan basically said Williams was a no-brainer pick, once the Jets saw he was available. Williams was widely regarded as the most talented defensive player in this draft.Harrison is a more interesting, less-heralded potential value pick. It's likely that he fell to Round 5 because of concerns about his work ethic. By most accounts, he has the talent and physical attributes to play in the NFL. But is he willing to put in the work required of a starting offensive lineman in this league ?
When considering this question, Jets coach Todd Bowles offered a good summary of how teams weigh these risks, while attempting to maximize their value in the draft."Some games, [Harrison] played harder than others, but you can probably pull out any college player going into the pros that has done that at some point in time," Bowles said. "Jarvis is a big guy. He's not going to go out and run 400 meters in 47, 48 seconds. Obviously, the better shape he's in, the better he can play. He has a chance, for where we got him, to be a value pick. He has to show that he's more than that type of [lazy] player. We thought it was worth the gamble to take on him."
Posted 1 Apr 2015The New York Jets announced Tuesday they will conduct training camp this summer at their year-round facility in Florham Park, New Jersey, joining a leaguewide trend. Currently, 21 of the 32 teams hold training camp at their facility.
Starting in 2009, the Jets camped in Cortland, New York, where they trained at SUNY-Cortland. Former coach Rex Ryan, the driving force behind Cortland, liked the location because it allowed the team to get away from home and build chemistry. Under Ryan, they skipped only one summer in Cortland -- 2011 -- the year of the NFL lockout. That summer, they held camp in Florham Park.
But this is a new era, and Todd Bowles is looking to put his stamp on the team.
Team president Neil Glat said their hope is that staying at home will allow more fans to attend camp. In 2014, the Jets drew 22,500 fans in Cortland, according to a study. The study also determined that the Jets' presence in Cortland generated $4.6 million for the local ecomony over a three-week period.
"SUNY Cortland felt like home because of the tremendous local support we received during our time there," owner Woody Johnson said in a statement. "President Erik Bitterbaum and the university staff, as well as the families and businesses of Central New York, all went above and beyond to embrace our organization and create a comfortable environment for our team and fans. They always will be a part of our Jets family."
At one point, the Jets were leaning toward SUNY-Farmingdale on Long Island. The objective, it seemed, was to get back to the metropolitan area, trying to re-energize a fan base that became disgruntled with last season's 4-12 record.
The team hasn't announced the starting date, but it will be about July 28. There is no word yet on where the Green & White scrimmage will be held -- or if it will be held at all.
Posted 1 Apr 2015Source : Ryan Fitzpatrick brought to Jets with idea that he'll be Week 1 starter
He may not be ready for offseason workouts or minicamp but that doesn't mean that Ryan Fitzpatrick won't be squarely in the mix for the New York Jets come training camp.
Two weeks ago, general manager Mike Maccagnan said that a broken leg suffered last season means that Fitzpatrick likely won't be ready to throw until training camp. The resulting domino effect points to incumbent starter Geno Smith as well as third-string quarterback Matt Simms as the two quarterbacks who will enter the offseason receiving the majority of snaps. Fitzpatrick isn't expected to be back on the field until later in the summer.But a league source tells Metro that even if Smith has a “lights out offseason" the team still won't name a starter until Fitzpatrick is back.
There will be patience from the front office and coaching staff to see how the ace of the Wonderlic can recover from his season-ending injury last year. There's also a familiarity with this veteran quarterback as Fitzpatrick certainly has multiple ties to the team. Last year, he was with the Houston Texans where Maccagnan was the director of college scouting, and Jets offensive coordinator Chan Gailey was his head coach for a spell with the Buffalo Bills.
All of which means, in the words of the source, that Fitzpatrick will be given the chance to make a case for the starting job.“There is a familiarity with what he can do. He wasn't brought in just to backup,” the source said. “There's no need to rush him back. The Jets won't hurry to name a starter. This is a true competition at quarterback and 'Fitz' is going to get a chance to win the job.”
In fact, it might be more than just a chance to win the job.“He was brought in with the idea that he can start come Week 1,” the source said. “It isn't a lock, it isn't a guarantee. But he was brought in knowing full well that he can win the job and help win some games.“He was brought in and will be given the opportunity to win the job. No one is anointed this year. The best man will start and the Jets seriously think he can win this thing and be their starter.”
The source also confirmed a report from Metro in February that Michael Vick is not returning to the Jets.“The team has moved on from him,” the source said.Fitzpatrick suffered the broken leg in December and is progressing well.“He will be ready by training camp,” the source said. “He's making nice progress.”
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