NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The transformation of the New York Jets began, in large part, the day they hired Todd Bowles.
The franchise was in disarray and in search of a coach who could get back to winning on the field — and not just in the headlines. Bowles has been a perfect fit so far, a low-key and even-keeled leader who refuses to be satisfied, not even after opening 3-1.
“We understand that we’ve only played one quarter of the season and all we did was get off to a good start,” Bowles said during a conference call Monday. “We haven’t accomplished anything.”
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Bowles is bland compared to the bombastic approach Rex Ryan took in his six years with the team. Ryan was entertaining and did some winning, too. But in the end, it wasn’t consistent enough. The big talk didn’t match the product on the field, and owner Woody Johnson needed to make changes.
By bringing in Bowles and general manager Mike Maccagnan in January, the Jets had two men in charge on the same page and cut from the same humble and hard-working cloth. That has trickled down throughout the facility and into the locker room.
“I think it’s mature,” Bowles said of what he thought of the team’s mind-set. “We’re working on how to become a cohesive unit and how to win ballgames. We still have to get better from a penalties standpoint and our guys know that.”
The Jets beat the Miami Dolphins 27-14 in London on Sunday and, sure, Bowles was pleased with the victory. But he also made it clear in his talk with the team in the locker room after the game that the 14 penalties for 163 yards will not be tolerated.
“We’ve done a lot of good things,” linebacker Demario Davis said, “and there are things that we’re still trying to clean up.”
The Jets head into their bye-week break after just four games, with coaches working through Wednesday and the players having off the rest of the week after watching film Tuesday.
Bowles would ideally prefer to have a bye at Week 8, right in the middle of the season, but thinks now might be a great time since linebacker David Harris (quadriceps), defensive lineman Leonard Williams (sprained ankle), safety Calvin Pryor (bruised knee) and running back Bilal Powell (groin) are all nursing injuries.
It’s the earliest quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick can recall having a bye in his 11 NFL seasons, but he doesn’t think it will affect the momentum the Jets have established — especially after bouncing back from a lackluster effort in a 24-17 loss to Philadelphia last week.
“We sat and talked last Monday (and) the sky was falling and we had lost our first game,” Fitzpatrick said.
“The undefeated season was gone and all of that. It’s just another week and we happened to win this game. A very important thing in the NFL is just to keep everything in perspective. It’s such a week-by-week deal.”
Talk to just about any player in the locker room and you’ll hear some variance of that answer.
“We look at it as a 16-round fight,” Davis said. “We’ve done well through the first four rounds. We just want to fix the things we haven’t done so well and keep building.”
No headlines. No sexiness. No nonsense.
That’s what the Jets are these days, and they intend to keep it that way — while they quietly go about their business.
Fitzpatrick refused to make comparisons to previous teams he’s been on, when asked if this is the best of all of them. Again, the quarterback fell back on the idea that it’s way too early to make any such declarations.
“You’ve heard it from me time and time again: It’s a lot of fun to be in the huddle with such experienced guys,” Fitzpatrick said. “All of them have the right look in their eye. That’s a fun thing as a quarterback to step in and see that.”
The Jets are ranked 15th in overall offense and see room for improvement, especially with a unit that includes wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker and bruising running back Chris Ivory, who ranks third in the NFL with 314 yards rushing despite not playing in one game.
The offensive line has certainly done its job, creating room to run while also protecting Fitzpatrick, who has been sacked just twice through four games.
Bowles’ defense ranks second overall and the Jets have already matched last season’s total for turnovers with 13, including two interceptions and three fumble recoveries by Darrelle Revis.
All of that has gotten New York off to the solid start it hoped for.
“Three-and-one isn’t going to get you where you want to go,” Davis said. “You’re not going to know where you are until the end of the season. Everybody in this league knows that real football kind of starts in November.”
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