Todd Bowles Needs To Lay Down The Law After Colon's Comments On Geno

By Ernie Palladino
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Some smart editor out there should make it a cardinal rule of sports journalism.

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You need a story? Send a reporter to Jets practice. Or listen to one of their radio interviews. Somebody is bound to say something stupid.

Willie Colon served the purpose quite nicely this week with his SiriusXM comments directed at Geno Smith. In warning his anointed (at this point) starting quarterback not to crash the Porsche general manager Mike Maccagnan and new head coach Todd Bowles have built in that big garage in Florham Park, Colon proved only one thing. It wasn’t just Rex Ryan’s influence that created all the empty verbiage of the last six years.

It is part of the Jets’ culture, a deep-seated need to shoot one’s mouth off that the classy, cerebral Bowles must stamp out ASAP.

As of now, it is still alive and well, even as Ryan molds his new program in his own inimitable image in Buffalo. Boasts of challenging for the AFC East title and kicking the, uh, stuffing out of the Jets when they come down to MetLife Stadium on Nov. 12 have already flowed out of the head coach’s office.

That’s Rex. He likes to talk, and he doesn’t particularly mind that his players get chatty, even as his teams struggle. So expect to hear a Niagara of noise coming down from the New York northlands this year and every year he’s up there, however long that tenure lasts.

Down here, though, it was widely believed that the silliness would grind, if not to a halt, then to a minimum, under Bowles. Indeed, no one should expect to hear any proclamations about any refusal to kiss Bill Belichick’s rings from a coach who intends to confine all his meaningful talking to the meeting rooms.

Unfortunately, the philosophy hasn’t quite trickled down to the locker room yet. Colon’s blast, directed not at an opponent but at a quarterback trying to save his own career as well as his team’s offensive prospects, put even more pressure on a fragile mind. Smith’s confidence level falls far below that of a Tom Brady, after all.

A few missing pounds of air in a football will not cure Smith’s issues. The last thing he needed was one of his starting guards applying an extra-heavy guilt trip on him.

Colon wasn’t wrong, of course. The Jets should be much improved on both sides of the ball.

Maccagnan and Bowles have done a great job this offseason in reuniting the Darrelle Revis-Antonio Cromartie cornerback tandem that was once the scourge of the league. The best player in the draft, USC defensive end Leonard Williams, miraculously fell into their laps at No. 6. With any luck, Maccagnan will figure out Muhammad Wilkerson’s contract, and the defensive front will remain its ferocious self.

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The addition of wide receiver Brandon Marshall and second-rounder Devin Smith of Ohio State gives Smith two potentially dynamic targets to go along with Eric Decker. Stevan Ridley and Zac Stacy were added to a backfield that already included powerful Chris Ivory and gritty Bilal Powell.

The way things stand, the Jets may not have a Porsche, but they do have a high-end BMW. And Smith has shown over the last two years that he is perfectly capable of turning its offensive engine into a junker.

So Colon was right in his warning. But he shouldn’t have said it at all. He would have done his unit more good if he followed Bowles’ philosophy.

“My personal feeling is, if you don’t have anything good to say about a teammate, you don’t say it,” Bowles told the media.

He might even have taken a page from Marshall’s playbook. The former Bear, Dolphin, and Bronco has become Smith’s biggest booster. Just the other day he was heard shouting encouragement and cheering a well-thrown pass during the Organized Team Activity session. He has waxed poetic about Smith’s intelligence and his unlimited potential.

Snicker away, but that’s the kind of talk Smith needs. Skeptics be damned.

Bowles needs to lay down his law quickly and effectively.

Got a gripe? Keep it to yourself. Stay off the back pages. Leave your teammates alone.

It may take some time to stamp out the loose-lipped, anything-goes culture of the Ryan years. As Holmes showed in 2011, it can destroy a locker room.

As Colon showed this week, it doesn’t help improve an already tough situation.

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Until then, at least the Jets will keep us all entertained as the media darlings of the offseason.